To help Americans eat more wisely during the coronavirus crisis, The Kroger Co. has launched a free “telenutrition” service through its Kroger Health arm.
The new online service provides guidance in selecting and preparing healthy fresh and nonperishable foods, Kroger Health said Thursday. The offering is part of the division’s “Food as Medicine” platform, aimed at promoting better nutrition and smarter food choices to foster overall wellness and help customers with chronic health conditions.
Through the telenutrition service, participants receive a complimentary virtual consultation via a two-way video chat with a registered dietitian. Kroger Health said the sessions provide personalized support and plans for both individuals and families, whether they’re just starting to cook, adjusting to tighter budgets, or encountering reduced access to fresh or favorite foods. Dietitians also will address management of food-related health concerns, including weight loss or maintenance, gastrointestinal conditions and eating disorders, as well as nutrition plans associated with fertility, oncology and areas.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed shopping, cooking and eating routines for households across America,” Jim Kirby, senior director at Kroger Health, said in a statement. “Many families and individuals are for the first time exclusively relying on cooking for meals, some with limited budgets and nutrition knowledge.”
Fifty-one percent of customers report cooking and baking more often than before the pandemic, while 45% are cooking the same amount, according to research by 84.51°, Kroger’s data science and analytics unit. Just 4% of people said they’re cooking less often.
Meanwhile, 46% of customers reported snacking more throughout the day, and 40% said they’re eating more comfort and indulgent foods. Forty percent of shoppers also indicated they’ve bought more packaged foods than normal.
“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,” Kirby added.
Kroger Health said the telenutrition service will remain free for all customers, including Medicare and Medicaid patients, during the pandemic. Customers can schedule unlimited visits with the code "COVID."
In February, as part of its Food as Medicine platform, Kroger said it was piloting a program in which physicians can write “food prescriptions” that patients fill at a local store under the guidance of a Kroger Health professional. At the store, a dietitian provides personal nutrition counseling and food suggestions to help patients better manage their health condition or concern, in line with the doctor’s orders.
The Kroger Health team encompasses 22,000 health care professionals — ranging from pharmacists and nurse practitioners to dietitians and technicians — in more than 2,000 pharmacies and 200 clinics in 35 states, serving more than 14 million customers.
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