Food is the Best Medicine

The Food is the Best Medicine (FBM) program was established by the Ascension Texas Council on Racial and Health Equity in response to the alarming rate of maternal deaths in Central Texas and the high rate of severe maternal morbidity cases, both of which are exacerbated by the barriers to healthy food access experienced by minority populations.

GOAL: To provide nutrient-rich food to postpartum mothers and their newborns, reducing food insecurity, improving diet quality, and improving rates of home cooking, breastfeeding, and postpartum depression.


Prevalence of Food Insecurity: About 1 in 8 Texas households (1.4 million) face food insecurity, higher than the national average.

Impact on Healthcare Costs: In Texas, a 1% increase in food insecurity leads to a $400 million rise in annual healthcare expenses.

Consequences of Food Insecurity: Linked to poor maternal mental health, reduced breastfeeding, and higher infant hospitalization rates.


Target Audience: 30 postpartum women a month in 22 zip codes within Austin/Travis County.
Support Offered: $100 grocery card or 8 weeks of home delivered prepared meals, meal kits, fresh produce, and pantry staples ~120 meal equivalents total.
Evaluation: 18-item USDA food security scale; 26-item Dietary Screener Questionnaire; self-rated health status survey; program satisfaction survey.


End of March 2024:

  • 67 enrolled in FBM 8-week intervention; 300 x $100 grocery store gift cards distributed.
  • 95% of participants who completed the final impact survey rated their experience with the FBM program as positive or very positive.
  • 55% of survey respondents said they ate more fruits and vegetables, while 45% said they ate the same amount of fruits and vegetables.
  • 86% of survey respondents reported that FBM helped them save money on their weekly grocery bill.


“[FBM] has meant SO much! We are over the income limit for SNAP by less than 45$ and so we don’t qualify. Access to food is a real struggle for our family. This program has meant SO much to us. Honestly, I don’t know what we would have eaten some days without this food. It helped us be able to eat and feed our kids and it was healthy too. We are truly grateful. We are also sad the program ended! We miss it for sure. Thank you for every single thing that you do to help people like us.”

“Que estoy muy agradecida, que Dios bendiga esas manos que producen esos alimentos.” [“I am very grateful, may God bless those hands that provide those foods.”]

“Pues todo fue vien me ayudó bastante gracias a ustedes.” [“Well, everything went well, it helped me a lot thanks to you.”]

“[FBM was] helping me while tending to my newborn.

“Muy bien gracias por su ayuda.” [“Very good, thank you for your help.”]

“Para mi es excelente la entrega, muy amables.” [“For me, the delivery is excellent, very friendly.”]

Favorite Meals and Produce Items

“Los aguacates” [“The avocados”]

“The grapefruits were so flavorful!”

“Teriyaki meatball meal and apples from pantry”

“El platillo de pollo con verduras de ejotes y zanahoria fue mi favorito y las frutas también la verdad disfruté.” [“The chicken dish with green beans and carrot vegetables was my favorite and I also really enjoyed the fruits.”]

“Lara Bars are great for on the go!”

Support Our Program

FBM is a program for the community, by the community. We can’t do this without your support. Donate today to help provide food provisions to our ASMCA birthing mothers and their newborn babies. All donations will directly support FBM and our community.


Elizabeth Polinard, PhD, RN.
FBM Program Supervisor and Co-founder/Chair of the Ascension Texas Council on Racial and Health Equity
[email protected]

Victoria Threadgould, GPC, CFRE.
Director of Grants, Ascension Seton Foundation
[email protected]

Program Partners

The Cook’s Nook

The Cook’s Nook is a leading developer and distributor of quality and culturally relevant nutrition solutions that address food insecurity and chronic disease and drive high engagement and satisfaction. To do this, The Cook’s Nook works with their customers to design programs that lead to improved health and economic outcomes by providing vulnerable populations access to quality nutrition with dignity and choice.

Farmshare Austin

Farmshare Austin is a nonprofit organization that has a mission to grow a healthy, just and equitable local food system by increasing community food access and cultivating new farmers. Located on a 10-acre, certified organic, mixed produce farm in Eastern Travis County, Farmshare provides beginner farmer training for adults who wish to launch careers in sustainable and organic farming. Most of the produce grown at the farm goes directly to Farmshare’s food access work which provides reduced priced, nutrient-rich produce and organic grocery items to those experiencing economic and mobility challenges.

Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at UTHealth

The Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin is an integral part of UTHealth, which is one of six component institutions of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The center was founded in 2006 with a vision of ‘healthy children in a healthy world’ and a mission to advance health and healthy living for children and families through early and impactful interventions. UTHealth’s Austin campus is dedicated to building public health in Central Texas by excelling in professional development and training, conducting transdisciplinary research, and translating scientific knowledge into actionable initiatives that foster healthy habits within the community.