Published On: December 17, 2023By

In the healthcare space, the concept of medically tailored meals (MTMs) has been gaining traction, especially for their role in improving the health outcomes of patients with complex medical conditions. NationsMarkets’ in-house Chef, in collaboration with their Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, carefully craft these meals to align with the standards set by the Food is Medicine Coalition. The focus is not just on the nutritional aspect but also on ensuring that each meal aids in the recovery process post-hospital discharge, assists in chronic disease management, and supports long-term care.

What Exactly Are Medically Tailored Meals? Medically tailored meals are specifically designed to cater to the unique nutritional requirements of individuals with certain health conditions. These meals are not just about meeting the basic dietary needs but also about supporting improved health outcomes. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine1 highlighted the diverse range of meal options provided by MTM programs, often offered through Medicare Advantage and non-profit organizations.

Key Statistics and Research Findings:1

  • Researchers noted recipients of MTMs live an average distance of approximately 15 miles from community services.
  • About 61.4% of participants were female.
  • Insurance types of participants included other, private, Medicare, and Medicaid.
  • Participants exhibited a higher comorbidity index, indicating a substantial burden of chronic health conditions like cancer, end-stage renal disease, diabetes, and congestive heart failure.

Impact and Benefits: Research has consistently shown that MTMs lead to more positive health outcomes.

  • MTM participants showed higher healthcare utilization, including more inpatient and home health visits.1
  • Despite increased healthcare costs, these participants experienced significantly lower subsequent medical events. Meaning lower rates of readmission with MTM interventions.1,2
  • The total average monthly health care costs for recipients of medically tailored meals were 31% lower than the comparison group ($28,000 vs.$41,000) at the end of the three-month intervention.2

Quality Meals and Health Outcomes: The use of high-quality, fresh ingredients in MTMs plays a crucial role in patient recovery. Nutritionally balanced meals can significantly impact health and reduce readmission rates. This is particularly true in addressing malnutrition, a common issue in healthcare. Malnutrition affects a significant portion of the population, especially those with chronic illnesses or complex medical needs. Malnutrition can be due to food insecurity or lack of food availability, or nutritional insecurity which is the lack of access to nutrient-dense foods. Quality meals, rich in essential nutrients, are crucial in combating this issue. Berkowitz et al.’s study1 revealed that patients receiving MTMs reported better health outcomes and lower healthcare utilization rates.

The 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health: This conference set a bold agenda to combat hunger and reduce chronic diseases by 2030, emphasizing the “Food as Medicine” approach. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched a comprehensive Food as Medicine program to address these goals.3

Key Nutrition and Health Statistics:3

  • Approximately 33.8 million people in the U.S. live in food-insecure households.
  • In 2021, 12.5% of households with children faced food insecurity.
  • Nearly 117 million American adults suffer from preventable chronic diseases linked to poor diets.
  • Obesity alone accounts for nearly $173 billion in annual healthcare costs.

HHS Initiatives: HHS is working on several initiatives to advance Food as Medicine approaches, including Medicaid Innovations, IHS Produce Prescription Pilot, NIH research, and development of best practices for implementing Food as Medicine programs.3

Medically Tailored Meals, formulated with high-quality, fresh ingredients, play a critical role in healthcare. They not only provide essential nutrition but also significantly improve health outcomes, reduce hospital readmissions, and contribute to the overall well-being of patients. Medically Tailored Meals address both food insecurity and nutritional insecurity, and thus can be used in a variety of ways such as post-discharge for malnutrition and recovery, chronic disease management, and long term care management.



  1. Berkowitz SA, Terranova J, Randall L, Cranston K, Waters DB, Hsu J. Association Between Receipt of a Medically Tailored Meal Program and Health Care Use. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(6):786-793.
  2. Gurvey J, Rand K, Daugherty S, Dinger C, Schmeling J, Laverty N. Examining health care costs among MANNA clients and a comparison group. J Prim Care Community Health. 2013;4(4):311-317. doi:10.1177/2150131913490737
  3. Food as Medicine: A Project to Unify and Advance Collective Action. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Published On: December 17, 2023By