DCRI Pilots ‘Food is Medicine: Makin’ Healthy Groceries’ Study in New Orleans

Pilot study will evaluate how grocery store vouchers and stipends encourage healthy eating.

Healthy food is critical to good health, but accessing and preparing nutritious food often feels complicated. A new pilot study in New Orleans funded by the American Heart Association’s Health Care by Food TM initiative will test out new approaches.

The “Food Is Medicine: Makin’ Healthy Groceries” study will be led by Adrian Hernandez, MD, MHS, vice dean and executive director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), whose team will examine how grocery vouchers and educational material about healthy choices might impact the food choices of adult patients with clinically documented high blood pressure living in the Greater New Orleans area of Louisiana.

“Makin’ groceries” is an old-time New Orleans expression for food shopping rooted in the French phrase “faire son marché.” The study will identify 100 people through their healthcare systems and invite them to participate by receiving $100 monthly vouchers to either Rouses, a regional grocery store chain, or Instacart, an online grocery pick-up and delivery service.

In addition to providing the 100 participants with vouchers for food, the study will also provide participants with educational information about grocery store choices, food preparation, and other tips for healthy eating. People who sign up for this study will participate in monthly surveys about their food choices so that the research team can examine any changes.

“These and other food is medicine research efforts supported by the Association’s Health Care by Food™ initiative hold the promise to improve health outcomes for millions of patients living with or at risk for cardiovascular disease and other serious chronic health conditions,” said Mitchell S.V. Elkind, MD, MS, chief clinical science officer of the American Heart Association, a member of the writing group of the Association’s Presidential Advisory on food is medicine and a tenured professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University.

Adrian Hernandez

“We know that healthy food is an important way to promote heart health and prevent heart attacks and strokes, but for too many communities, it’s easier said than done,” Hernandez said. “This research team wants to partner with participants to develop a better understanding of how best to support people to make healthier food choices.”

By offering education on healthy food choices and a monthly voucher for in-person and online grocery shopping, this study could potentially enhance disease management, promote a healthier lifestyle, and ultimately improve participants' overall quality of life by emphasizing healthier living.

Neha Pagidipati, M.D.

“We plan to use what we learn in this pilot study to help us to plan future clinical outcome assessments that offer comprehensive approaches to chronic disease management,” said Neha Pagidipati, MD, MPH, an Associate Professor of Medicine, and cardiovascular disease prevention specialist. “It’s crucial for doctors like me to think more broadly beyond what medications I prescribe in my office. Studies like these provide the evidence base to think about patients’ real-world circumstances.”

This study is funded by the American Heart Association through its Health Care by Food™ initiative, which last month announced grants to 19 research projects nationwide to identify effective food is medicine approaches for incorporating healthy food into health care delivery for the treatment, management and prevention of chronic disease. The study is operated through the Duke Clinical Research Institute and the Louisiana Public Health Institute. The study uses PCORnet® infrastructure.

Learn more about the Health Care By Food TM Initiative at: https://healthcarexfood.org/

ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT06214806

About the Duke Clinical Research Institute

The DCRI, part of the Duke University School of Medicine, is the largest academic clinical research organization in the world. Our mission is to develop, share, and implement knowledge that improves global health through innovative clinical research. The institute conducts multinational clinical trials, manages major national patient registries, and performs landmark outcomes research. The DCRI is a pioneer in cardiovascular and pediatric clinical research and conducts groundbreaking clinical research across multiple other therapeutic areas, including infectious disease, neuroscience, respiratory medicine, and nephrology.

About LPHI

LPHI is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit public health institute that has proudly served the residents of Louisiana since 1997. As the public health landscape shifts and changes at an ever-quickening pace, LPHI’s role is to be both responsive to the immediate public health needs of Louisiana residents and to create an environment for long-term public health improvements. LPHI’s mission is to ensure that everyone has fair and just opportunities to be healthy and well, which it strives to achieve through its four strategic plan priority areas: Racial Justice and Health Equity, Partnerships and Collaboration, A Healthier Louisiana, and A Thriving Organization.

About PCORnet

PCORnet®, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, improves the nation’s capacity to conduct health research, particularly comparative effectiveness research (CER), efficiently by creating a large, highly representative network for conducting clinical outcomes research. PCORnet® has been developed with funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

About Rouses Markets

Family owned and operated since 1960, Rouses Markets employs more than 7,000 people and operates more than 60 full-service supermarkets in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Donny Rouse, CEO, is the third generation to run the company. True to the family and company’s local roots, Rouses Markets puts local and community first by hiring local, stocking uniquely local products, supporting other local businesses along with local farmers and fishers, and giving back to every community it serves.

About Instacart

Instacart, the leading grocery technology company in North America, works with grocers and retailers to transform how people shop. The company partners with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to facilitate online shopping, delivery, and pickup services from more than 80,000 stores across North America on the Instacart Marketplace. Instacart makes it possible for millions of people to get the groceries they need from the retailers they love, and for approximately 600,000 Instacart shoppers to earn by picking, packing, and delivering orders on their own flexible schedule. The Instacart Platform offers retailers a suite of enterprise-grade technology products and services to power their e-commerce experiences, fulfill orders, digitize brick-and-mortar stores, provide advertising services, and glean insights. With Instacart Ads, thousands of CPG brands – from category leaders to emerging brands – partner with the company to connect directly with consumers online, right at the point of purchase. With Instacart Health, the company is providing tools to increase nutrition security, make healthy choices easier for consumers, and expand the role that food can play in improving health outcomes. For more information, visit www.instacart.com/company, and to start shopping, visit www.instacart.com.