Albertsons Cos. is expanding its partnerships when it comes to building a better understanding of "food as medicine" for consumers.
The Boise, Idaho-based food and drug retailer has partnered with the Validation Institute, a health care performance claims assessment firm that this week announced the FoodMed Certified Program. The new initiative is designed to help organizations build effective "food as medicine" offerings, in which nutritional guidance helps promote better health outcomes and wellness. In addition, FoodMed Certified is aimed at further driving transparency in the marketplace and maximizing cost-savings.
The FoodMed Certified program launched with support from Albertsons Cos., Avēsis, Mom’s Meals and Uber Health, all of whom are on board as founding members.
“The practical application of food as medicine continues to gain momentum,” said Irina Pelphrey, vice president of health and managed care at Albertsons Cos., in a statement. “As one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States, Albertsons Cos. welcomes the opportunity to be part of this initiative to highlight effective FoodMed and nutrition programs that improve health outcomes, while also drawing attention to opportunities to provide better access to high-quality food, which can make a significant difference when it comes to reducing and eliminating health inequities.”
By leveraging Validation Institute’s data insights alongside the diverse health care expertise of its members, FoodMed Certified participants will collaborate to research and identify more proven, outcomes-driven food as medicine programs across healthcare.
"Validation Institute is committed to helping companies and people make informed decisions by providing them with the necessary information about the effectiveness of programs that aid in preventing and treating disease, and also building food security,” Validation Institute CEO Benny DiCecca stated. “By relieving companies of the burden of creating these programs themselves and promoting transparency, FoodMed Certified delivers confidence in decision-making, leading to better health outcomes for all."
In March, Albertsons unveiled apartnership with financial services technology provider FIS—which represents supplemental health benefits administrators such as Fresh Connect, Pay Forward and WEX—to use its payment platform and with benefits card provider Soda Health, which tailors health benefits to individual needs. The move enables consumers using FIS- and Soda Health-integrated benefit cards to buy eligible food and health products at supermarkets such as Albertsons, Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Shaw’s, Tom Thumb and Acme.
“We are striving to be more than just a neighborhood grocery store,” Omer Gajial, executive VP of pharmacy and health at Albertsons Cos., commented when the FIS partnership was announced. “We want to build a deeper connection with our customers, support them in their wellness journey and address hunger in our most vulnerable communities.”
And earlier this month, Albertsons became part of the Fresh Connect network, a “food prescription” program operated by food access nonprofit About Fresh. Leveraging the FIS Filtered Spend platform, Fresh Connect allows participating consumers to shop for fresh fruit and vegetables at their preferred local store, swipe a prepaid debit card at checkout and have the cost of eligible healthy foods automatically deducted from the total purchase price.
Overall, Albertsons Cos. operates 2,270 stores—including 1,720 pharmacies—in 34 states and the District of Columbia such banners as Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci's Food Lovers Market.