ST. LOUIS — Operation Food Search, a St. Louis-based nonprofit hunger relief organization, has begun a three-year study to demonstrate the economic and health benefits of providing healthy food to pregnant women.
The organization began a two-year pilot of the program, Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts, in late 2018 to eliminate food insecurity, and other social determinants of health, during pregnancy and postpartum in low-income women, as well as improve birth outcomes for mothers and babies.
The program provides a participant’s entire family with food including protein, dairy, fruits and vegetables from local farmers and producers, as well as cooking and nutrition resources, counseling and referrals to community resources.
Fresh Rx is funded by OFS donors, including an $850,000, four-year grant in December 2018 from Bayer.
In the new study, in which OFS is partnering with Medicaid Health Plans and Washington University’s Social Policy Institute, more than 750 women will be enrolled in a randomized controlled trial to determine how Medicaid can promote food security for Missouri residents.
The new study will cost $800,000 annually, or $2.4 million total over the 36-month study period, according to Trina Ragain, OFS's director of policy and innovation.
Ragain and Lucinda Perry, OFS's director of strategic initiatives, designed the Fresh Rx program.
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