Kroger Health, the health care arm of The Kroger Co., has teamed up with nutrition-and-health specialist Performance Kitchen to offer medically tailored meals (MTMs) to people with chronic diseases.
Cincinnati-based Kroger said Friday that the collaboration marks the first time that Kroger Health will provide evidence-based, dietitian-approved meals that will offer nutrition intervention for patients with complex health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. MTMs are designed to help meet the specific nutritional and care needs of such individuals so they can better manage their health.
The nutritionally balanced MTMs are devised by Performance Kitchen’s and Kroger Health’s team of chefs, doctors and registered dietitians and focus on delivering high-quality proteins, full servings of vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and fiber while limiting sodium and added sugar, Kroger reported. The single-serve meals are frozen and ready to heat, making them convenient to prepare. All of the Performance Kitchen MTMs are also approved by Kroger Health dietitians.
“We believe in empowering people with resources to help them make healthy choices that will deliver the best outcomes for them,” James Kirby, chief commercial officer at Kroger Health, said in a statement. “Offering MTMs allows us an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to supporting individuals on their wellness journeys, while providing a personalized approach to help them transform their health. Through better options and access, we are assisting people in improving their quality of life, disease prevention and management.”
The Performance Kitchen and Kroger Health MTMs include such choices as chicken dijon with kale, Moroccan-style chicken with quinoa, vegetable chickpea curry and salmon pasta.
Kroger noted that it can pair the MTMs with current Kroger Health services, such as virtual appointments with its dietitians plus access to healthy groceries, providing a more holistic approach to nutrition security and patient outcomes.
“MTMs help us achieve our goal of making sure people have access to food that helps them feel their best and improve their health,” commented Taylor Newman, director of nutrition for Kroger Health. “While the meals are personalized for an individual’s specific health condition, we’re also proud to offer a variety of culturally diverse recipes and flavors to make sure everyone's needs are met.”
The case for MTMs
MTM programs could help prevent 1.6 million hospitalizations and save health insurers $13.6 billion nationwide in one year after paying for the cost of food, Performance Kitchen and Kroger Health said, citing a recent evidence review and a national simulation modeling study by researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. It’s estimated that, over 10 years, the health care costs savings from MTM program participants—receiving 10 MTMs per week for eight months—would reach $185.1 billion, plus the cost of the MTMs.
“We’re excited to work with Kroger Health in our unified goal of empowering the country to live healthier lives through food,” stated d Mark Walker, chairman and CEO of Redmond, Washington-based Performance Kitchen. “n a country where we spend $4.3 trillion on sick care annually, states and insurance companies that have begun offering millions of Americans these new meal benefits—along with organizations like Kroger Health who are making these benefits available—should be celebrated. Together, we are pioneering a new horizon of preventative care through nutritious food.”
Kroger has been a staunch advocate of “food as medicine” and offers its own platform through Kroger Health. In April 2022, the retailer unveiled a Kroger Health-funded study with the University of Cincinnati—Supermarket and Web-based Intervention targeting Nutrition (SuperWIN)—finding that promoting a heart-healthy diet via nutrition counseling from a registered dietitian improved diet quality and lowered cardiovascular risk.
And last September, management consultancy Deloitte released a report on food’s health benefits titled, “Fresh Food as Medicine for the Heartburn of High Prices”. Of 2,054 U.S. adults surveyed, 84% deemed health and wellness as a key factor when buying fresh food, and about 75% said they’re actively seeking more personalized nutrition. Also, 55% indicated they would pay extra for “the right foods” that improve their health and wellness. Many consumers, too, seek specific benefits from food, such as weight management (cited by 43%), managing existing medical conditions (32%), disease prevention (39%), immunity building (35%), improving emotional/mental health (34%) and raising cognitive performance (21%).