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Progressive Receives Investment To Improve Adverse Birth Outcomes Through Food

Progressive Community Health Centers (PCHC) has teamed up with Milwaukee-based non-profit Food For Health (FFH), in a concerted effort to lower the rates of maternal and infant adverse outcomes for high-risk women in Milwaukee’s vulnerable communities. During the nearly year-long demonstration project, FFH will supply Medically Tailored Meals (MTMs), nutrition education, and personalized well-being coaching to the three quarters of PCHC’s high-risk prenatal patients considered ‘high risk’ due to diet-related conditions like type 2 Diabetes, acquired gestational diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and preeclampsia.

PCHC’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allison Kos, said that while PCHC provides strong, culturally sensitive prenatal and postnatal maternity care to Milwaukee’s vulnerable communities, healthcare is just one aspect of ensuring healthy pregnancies and births. ”We’re partnering with Food For Health because as we’re committed to addressing structural aspects that our patients face in Milwaukee such as living in food deserts, lacking access to healthy foods, and knowing which foods work in your favor if you have diabetes or another diet-related disease,” said Kos. “Through this joint effort we are committed to clearly demonstrating that equitable access to medically tailored food and personalized programming can improve maternal health outcomes.”

FFH President and CEO Kathy Koshgarian said the MTM plans are tailored specifically to recipients’ medical needs by Registered Dietitians. “The made from scratch meals are just one aspect of an entire wraparound continuum of care model supported by technologies, biometric screenings, and personalized coach-directed nutrition and lifestyle education. Our participant-centered program is structured to lead to life-long positive changes and can extend beyond the mother to the entire family, improving health outcomes and reducing the cost of health care. Our goal is to help PCHC patients manage and even reverse the negative impact of diet-related diseases and improve the delta for women of color regarding maternal health in Wisconsin,” said Koshgarian. Kos said pregnant women with gestational diabetes and preeclampsia are more likely to experience adverse outcomes including preterm delivery, low birthweight, and infant mortality. Between 2016-2018, preterm delivery accounted for almost 50% of all infant deaths and 52% of Black infant deaths in Milwaukee County. Data collected between 2014-2020 indicates that 11% of all Milwaukee County births and 16% of births to Black women were low birthweight, compared to 8% of statewide births. Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities worsen these issues. The relationship between diet-related diseases, such as obesity, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia, and adverse maternal and infant outcomes like preterm delivery, low birth weight, and infant mortality provided the basis to partner on this important project.

Advancing A Healthier Wisconsin Endowment funded the joint program as part of its latest round of community-led projects with monetary support through American Rescue Plan dollars.

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