One of the biggest movements in the healthcare industry right now is around the healing power of food. Doctors and dietitians are touting how healthy food can keep people out of the hospital in the first place, help them recover after a health incident and prevent return visits to a hospital or doctor’s office.
It’s the latter reason that prompted Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC) and Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Institute (both under the BCBS umbrella) to launch foodQ, a “healthy food-delivery service that brings nutritious, affordable meals directly to people living in areas that lack adequate access to fresh foods that make up a healthy diet, known as food deserts,” according to a statement.
Click through to find out how the new program works, and see which areas the organizations have chosen to focus on for this preliminary rollout
A pilot program
Supported through BCBS’s Affordability Cures initiative, foodQ will pilot in 25 Chicago ZIP codes and 15 Dallas ZIP codes. Any consumer living in these areas can participate, regardless of whether they are covered by the participating insurance companies. Meal deliveries began in Chicago in February, and will start in Dallas in April.
“We know a ZIP code is just as important as a genetic code in determining a person’s health—impacting medical needs and access to care,” said Trent Haywood, president of the BCBS Institute.
Consumers who live in the eligible ZIP codes can visit the foodQ website to see the ready-to-heat lunch and dinner options. They can then enter payment information, select a meal and then choose a date and time for its delivery. Participants are encouraged to subscribe to foodQ for $10 per month, which includes free delivery and a buy-one-get-one free option for every meal purchased (meals cost $10). Those who don’t subscribe will pay a delivery fee of $6 per order and will not have the option for the BOGO deal.
Users can choose meals from five categories: beef, chicken, fish, pork and vegetarian. Examples include Italian Cheese Pasta, Adobo Marinated Pork and a Turkey Chorizo Burger. All meals in Chicago are prepared by existing food delivery company Kitchfix. On its website, Kitchfix indicates all of its meals are “approved by a nutritionist” and “free of gluten, dairy, corn, soy, refined sugars and artificial preservatives.” In Dallas, all meals will be prepared by Front Porch Pantry
The foodQ pilot will run through August, Manika Turnbull, HCSC vice president and community health and economic impact officer, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Following the six-month pilot, we’ll evaluate the program and look at various options including potential expansion into the delivery of meal kits, so people can prepare meals in their homes,” she said.