Project Open Hand: Medically Tailored Meal Spotlight

by Editorial Staff

What they do: Project Open Hand provides medically-tailored food to critically ill individuals and their families as well as hot meals to seniors and adults with disabilities struggling with food insecurity. A pioneer of the use of food as medicine, Project Open Hand is a founding partner of the Food Is Medicine Coalition (FIMC), a volunteer association of organizations providing medically-tailored meals and nutrition services across the country. In addition to delivering medically-tailored meals, Project Open Hand also collaborates with the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital to offer a fully integrated program of primary care, nutrition counseling, and food intervention to patients with chronic congestive heart failure.

How they do it: Project Open Hand engages more than 125 volunteers daily to prepare 2,500 nutritious meals and provide 200 bags of healthy groceries to help sustain clients as they battle serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges of aging. In addition, some of these meals are transported in carbon-neutral vehicles to Project Open Hand’s community site at 730 Polk Street in San Francisco, where the organization serves hot lunches to more than 50 adults with disabilities each day. Alongside its daily operations, Project Open Hand works to elevate the public health conversation around food as medicine by participating in studies led by researchers from University of California, San Francisco. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Urban Health found that Project Open Hand’s medically-appropriate food support improved health outcomes for patients living with HIV/AIDS and type 2 diabetes. 

Mission: To improve health outcomes and quality of life by providing nutritious meals to the sick and vulnerable, caring for and educating the Bay Area community.

Major Funding: Donations and government funding

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $10 million

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system: California Department of Health Care Services contracted the organization in 2018 to provide meals for the Medi-Cal Medically Tailored Meals Pilot Program. In 2021, the Department favorably assessed the pilot data and decided to make medically-tailored meals a covered service option starting in 2022. 

FACT SHEET:

Locations:
Project Open Hand
730 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Project Open Hand
1921 San Pablo Avenue
Oakland, CA 94612

Core Programs: Medically-tailored Meals, fresh groceries, mobile groceries, nutrition counseling and education

Number of staff: 155

Number of volunteers: More than 6,500

Areas served: San Francisco and Oakland, CA

Year Started: 1985

CEO: Paul Hepfer 

Contact Information: info@openhand.org

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