The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has partnered with Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana (MOWCI) to launch a new statewide meals program to improve the health of people living with HIV in Indiana.
Ryan’s Meals for Life is funded by a $1 million grant to MOWCI from ISDH through a federal Ryan White Supplemental Award.
The medically-tailored meals are available to more than 2,500 residents living anywhere in Indiana who are HIV positive and meet income level requirements, making it one of the first programs of its kind.
“This funding has allowed ISDH to be more innovative in its continued work to enhance the lives of those who are living with HIV,” said HIV/STD/Hepatitis Division Director Dennis Stover. “This groundbreaking program is something we’ve not had in Indiana before.”
Program recipients within MOWCI’s delivery area in and around Indianapolis have the option of receiving either hot or frozen meals.
Outside the MOWCI delivery area, frozen meals prepared by Eskenazi Health are shipped directly to recipients, said MOWCI Project Manager Nick Fennig.
More than 150 clients are signed up for the service, which is adding 10 new clients every day, Fennig said.
Clients are connected to the food program through the 17 agencies at 23 locations across the state that provide services to people living with HIV.
The agencies’ care coordinators also work with the client’s physician to make sure the meals meet each individual’s needs.
Research has found that when people living with HIV eat a healthy diet, they are more likely to take their medication, have improved mental health and are less pressured to make trade-offs between food and health care.
“If you keep people nutritionally sustained, they’re going to do better with their medical treatment,” said Mark Schwering, Ryan White Part B program director for ISDH. “These clients need balanced meals.”
Fennig said MOWCI is tracking data on each client―including HIV levels, weight, appetite and more―that will allow the organization to evaluate the program’s success.
Physician-directed meals are part of ISDH’s emphasis on care coordination, using case management to support the whole person, not just his or her medical needs, to create better health outcomes. Care coordination includes other types of assistance, such as financial help with insurance or housing, education and access to other helpful resources.
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health by clicking here.
(This story was originally published on June 5, 2018)
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