Collaborative program addresses food inequity for pregnant and postpartum women through home-delivered, culturally responsive meals
Providence, RI, September 13, 2023 – Point32Health, the parent company of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island, are collaborating to broaden access to healthy and nutritious meals for pregnant women who are patients at Women & Infants Hospital.
“Health care providers understand the importance of nutrition for women during pregnancy and it is critical to find a way to meet families where they are – not only by addressing cost barriers, but also hurdles of transportation or even cultural dietary needs,” said Michele Wolfsberg, director of clinical strategy for commercial products at Point32Health. “Our program with Meals on Wheel of RI and Women & Infants, has helped to provide thousands of healthy meals to households in Rhode Island to support maternal wellness and healthy baby development.”
Launched in 2022 and funded by Point32Health, the program utilizes clinical social workers at Women & Infants to identify patients who could benefit from no-cost, weekly home-delivered meals. The initiative supports expecting mothers with high-risk prenatal medical conditions, such as gestational diabetes, and those whose income may be a barrier to consistent, nutritional meals.
“Providing healthy, nourishing food is essential to help close the gap in health disparities and improve outcomes for pregnant and postpartum mothers. The simple act of delivering a meal can change the lives of vulnerable members of our community,” said Methodius G. Tuuli, MD, MPH, MBA, chief of obstetrics and gynecology, Women & Infants Hospital; executive chief of obstetrics and gynecology, Care New England Health System.
The program provides a weekly delivery of meals to each participant and their household for the duration of their pregnancy, and a weekly meal for two weeks during the postpartum period. In addition to an array of healthy meal selections, designated Latin, Asian, and Kosher menus are also available.
“Meals on Wheels of RI is proud to collaborate on this expansion of our ‘More Than A Meal’ model, which aligns with our 2025 strategic plan,” said Meals on Wheels of RI executive director Meghan Grady. “We are very pleased with the results to date and grateful for the important opportunity to serve this in-need population.”
In a survey, 100 percent of the respondents reported enjoying the food and reported that the meals made them feel healthier. More than half of respondents reported using WIC program information included with meal deliveries.
Point32Health is a leading, health and wellbeing organization, delivering a better health care experience to our members and the communities we serve. One of the top twenty health plans in the United States, Point32Health builds on the quality of our founding organizations, Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
At Point32Health, we believe that everyone should have equitable access to affordable, high-quality health care, regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, orientation, gender identity or ability. We offer a diverse range of health plans that help improve the health and wellness of the 2 million members we serve. Every day, we work to deliver on our purpose of guiding and empowering healthier lives for everyone.
We are proud that our Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Commercial Combined HMO and POS plans in Massachusetts and Maine, our Exchange HMO plans in Massachusetts and Maine, as well as Tufts Health Plan’s Medicaid and Exchange HMO plans, have received full Health Equity Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).1 And for the eighth straight year, our Tufts Medicare Preferred HMO plan received a 5-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the highest rating possible.2
About Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island
Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island is a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the nutritional and social needs of those they serve so that they can maintain safe and independent lifestyles. Its More Than a Meal delivery model provides a nutritious meal alongside a safety-ensuring wellness check and a socialization opportunity. Founded in 1969, Meals on Wheels of RI had delivered 20-million home-delivered meals and counting statewide in its 54-year history
About Women & Infants Hospital
Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology, and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the ninth largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,700 deliveries per year. Women & Infants is a Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, a U.S. News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in
Neonatology, and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology ranked number 11 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best Medical Schools specialty ranking.
Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence in Perinatal Biology and in Reproductive Health by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high-risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology, and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network, Neonatal Research Network, and Pelvic Floors Disorders Network, as well as the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group.
1 NCQA’s Health Equity Accreditation program
2 Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-Star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next. For more information on plan ratings, go to www.medicare.gov. Tufts Medicare Preferred HMO plans received 5 out of 5 stars for contract years