Campus News

UK’s Food as Health Alliance celebrates official launch

Tom Stephens, Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Health Plans, pictured with Alison Gustafson, Ph.D. during launch ceremony
Tom Stephens, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Health Plans, pictured with Alison Gustafson, director of Food as Health Alliance at UK.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 3, 2023) — As part of the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the Food as Health Alliance celebrated their official launch last week.

On April 26, board members, donors and partners commemorated the event at the Food Connection, where they began laying the groundwork for how to reduce food insecurity and improve diet-sensitive health outcomes across the Commonwealth.

The Food as Health Alliance aims to create partnerships between clinical, community, academic and industry leaders for improved statewide methods in the delivery, evaluation and technical assistance for “food as medicine” programs. This event featured the exciting announcement of a $200,000 contribution from the Kentucky Association of Health Plans. The gift will fund four upcoming research pilot projects in both urban and rural communities.

The four pilot programs have key partnerships that will help develop the most cost-effective and clinically meaningful food delivery programs, like grocery prescription or medically tailored meals. Clinical outcomes will be measured, along with impacts on health care costs among food insecure adults who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, heart disease or gestational diabetes.

“I am so moved by the array of individuals and organizations across our state that are devoted to reducing food insecurity and improving the health of our residents,” said Alison Gustafson, Ph.D., director of Food as Health Alliance.

The Food as Health Alliance unofficially began in January 2023. In just a short time, the team has had their Instacart partnership endorsed by The White House, developed a website and social media accounts, produced 10 nutrition focused cooking videos, released internal grant funding, and developed plans for clinician training videos.

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The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment was founded as, and remains a land-grant institution, committed to improving the quality of life for Kentuckians. Our research, teaching, and extension programs are part of a national system that maintains a statewide presence and links local, state, and global issues. Agriculture, food, and environmental systems are key components of Kentucky's economic future, and the college is playing a prominent role in those areas with its programs.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.