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Assemblymember Bonta Introduces Legislation to Make “Food as Medicine” Interventions a Permanent Medi-Cal Benefit

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO) – Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), has announced groundbreaking legislation, AB 1975, aimed at improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare spending by transitioning medically supportive food and nutrition interventions to permanent benefits under Medi-Cal. These evidence-driven services are currently being piloted as part of California's Medi-Cal transformation initiative, CalAIM. If passed, this legislation would make California the first state in the nation to provide these services as covered benefits.

“Adequate food and nutrition are fundamental in preventing and treating chronic conditions, particularly among Californians of color who are disproportionately affected” affirmed Assemblymember Bonta. “Making these interventions permanent would advance health equity by providing services to those impacted by diet-sensitive chronic conditions.”

In the first 18 months of the state's CalAIM initiative, food-based interventions ranked second in utilization out of 14 pilot services aimed at addressing social drivers of health. As of July 2023, more than 26,000 Californians have accessed medically supportive food and nutrition services.

Champions of the food as medicine movement, including the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) and the Food as Medicine Collaborative, highlight the benefits of incorporating medically supportive food and nutrition into patient care.

"We have an opportunity to expand proven programs and more deeply integrate food as medicine into standard patient care," said Assemblymember Bonta.

AB 1975 will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee in the coming months.