At Kroger Health, we believe in Food as Medicine. Our 135 years as America's leading grocer has taught us Food as Medicine is a dedicated, educated, and personalized approach to eating and enjoying food so we can live healthier lives and prevent illness before it starts. Telenutrition is an industry-leading, innovative service available nationwide. Two-way video chat with a dietitian from the comfort of your home or smartphone. Nutrition is confusing, and what works for your co-worker may not be right for you. This service allows trained retail dietitians to bring their food, grocery, and clinical nutrition expertise to you in a personalized, non-judgmental way. Telenutrition launched as a pilot in January 2019 with online sign- up available in a handful of states. In May 2019, we improved the digital user experience to allow patients to prioritize selecting by dietitian or available appointment times. To allow patients to feel heard and understood by their dietitian right from the start, in October 2019, the sign-up experience expanded to allow patients to share more information about themselves with their dietitian prior to the appointment. Since that time, the service has expanded to 48 states from coast to coast across the country, far beyond the reach of any one brick and mortar grocery chain or single medical care organization. Telenutrition, connecting patients with personalized food recommendations, which can be delivered to them across the country via Kroger SHIP and Home Chef meal kits.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. earlier this spring, Americans across the country were negatively impacted. As stay at home orders were put in place, plans were cancelled, and the world became uncertain. While devastating, Kroger Health saw a need arise to help the nation address food insecurity in conjunction with the questions that come with changes in food access and daily routines. Telenutrition allowed people to receive assistance from within their own homes, navigating how to shop and prepare food to nourish families experiencing volatile changes in budget and food access. Kroger Health’s National Press Release on May 21, 2020 announced to the country that Telenutrition services would be offered at no cost. Kroger felt a call to action, setting the stage to allow to help people live healthier lives when they most needed support in a way that was convenient and accessible for them.
There are over 328 million Americans that would benefit from the care of the Kroger Health dietitian team, and more than 453,000 are our own Kroger associates. Shopper data has demonstrated people have 3 main questions around food and health. Is this healthy? Is this healthy for me? How do I stay healthy? Layering these questions on more specific nuances like food security, food budget, health conditions, food preferences across a household, culinary abilities, transportation limitations, limiting food waste and practical personalized nutrition becomes too complex of a puzzle to be solved by any algorithm. Telenutrition, with a streamlined online scheduling experience and simple appointment reminders, provides quality nutrition care by a team of passionate with added convenience, accessibility, and scale of the service to create the innovation people have always needed. It takes a human to listen and understand. It takes compassion. Telenutrition provides a personal and emotional connection to the systemic problem of lack of public access to expert nutrition care.
Telenutrition's integrated and multifaceted efforts would be able to address the critical emerging nexus of health, food, agriculture, climate, and sustainability. According to Feeding America, over 37 million Americans were food insecure in 2018. Simultaneously, about half of all American adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases related to eating patterns like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The COVID-19 pandemic and related consequences will greatly amplify both public health concerns. Telenutrition, the intersection between food, health, and a reduction in food waste, has the power to improve public health on both fronts in addition to improving sustainability by encouraging shoppers to commit to food purchases that will be consumed and not discarded. The U.S household food security survey model from the USDA economic research service combined with shopper data from Kroger’s data analytics company, 84.51°, will be a valuable way to assess the impact of Telenutrition on food security in addition to shopping behavior changes. Kroger Health’s president, Colleen Lindholz, has shared aspiration to drive five powerful outcomes by 2025 through a company-wide commitment to Food as Medicine: a 20% improvement in five of the most important areas of population health. This means 18 million fewer people with obesity, 20 million fewer people with diabetes, 8 million fewer people experiencing food insecurity, a $58 billion savings in healthcare cost, and 15,000 healthier SKUs available at Kroger.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed shopping, cooking and eating routines for households across America. Many families and individuals are for the first time exclusively relying on cooking for meals, some with limited budgets and nutrition knowledge. Through Kroger Health’s Telenutrition service, our dietitians are providing free personalized nutrition advice to help our customers shop for and prepare delicious and affordable nutritious meals.” - Jim Kirby, Kroger Health’s Senior Director