Connect & Collaborate: Ohio State University’s Approach to Population Health with Fresh Food and Coaching
As the largest academic institution in the United States, many of the Ohio State University’s faculty, staff and students are experiencing negative health care trends consistent with many other workplaces – unhealthy lifestyle behaviors continue to contribute to increasing rates of obesity, hypertension, pre-diabetes and diabetes within the population we serve. With the knowledge that many other employers and universities face these challenges, Ohio State has created a strategically aligned and diverse team of people with the passion, skills and knowledge needed to connect and collaborate to improve the health and wellbeing of our population. We will highlight our data driven analytics that led to the creation of this unique collaborative program between students, faculty, staff, employer, and health plan to design and deliver a fresh food and health coaching initiative targeting our “”at risk”” population. This aligned and integrated initiative serves as a model to other universities and employers interested in actively engaging employees to create a sustainable wellness workplace environment during our fast-paced and resource constrained era.
The OSU Health Insurance Plan’s data indicated that many of the union workers at Ohio State had the worst biometrics and highest risk of chronic disease within the OSU population. Surveys and ongoing conversations with union leaders and members indicated that access to and knowledge of healthy food, as well as overall engagement in employer wellness activities, was minimal compared to non-union employees. During this same time, a group of OSU undergraduate students called “Best Food Forward” began to address student food insecurity by operationalizing a program focused on providing weekly deliveries of fresh food at half off retail. The OSU Health Plan, along with Best Food Forward began planning how they could partner to engage union members through weekly food deliveries. In order to ensure funding, campus wide buy in and operational logistics were required. The Office of Human Resources, key union leaders, and the Initiative for Food and Agricultural Transformation (InFact) joined together under the title “Bushel and a Peck with BFF.”
The “”Bushel and a Peck with BFF”” 12-week pilot program ran throughout the summer and fall of 2018. Each Thursday at the on campus Union Hall, participating employees paid $20.00 to enroll in the 12 week program that consisted of $20.00 of fresh produce each week for 12 weeks, recipe demos, and an opportunity to engage with a health coach. Best Food Forward students ordered and delivered the food while the OSU Health Plan coordinated the overall program and health coaching tips and interactions. Upon completion of week 8 of the pilot program, more than 80% of the participants wanted to continue and the pilot was extended for another 6 weeks beyond the initial 12 weeks planned. Key pilot results include the following highlights:
• A greater than 80% retention rate of employees participating all 12 weeks
• 45% of participants attending more than 7 in person health coaching appointments (1 stopped smoking; 1 started tracking daily steps; 2 started taking blood pressure medicine again; 2 engaged with a PCP for the first time; etc. )
• 100% of participants attended at least 1 in-person health coaching appointment
• increased awareness and improvement in participant’s blood pressure and weight evolved throughout the program
• more than 80% of participants continued for an additional 6 week extension.
The Bushel and a Peck Collaborative is building on the success of the pilot with a campus wide expansion. Over the next twelve to eighteen months, the program will grow to 3 or more weekly food and coaching sites as well as continue the student food distribution site. This expansion is already underway and data will be available by the ACLM conference to show a wider impact on a greater number of participants. Importantly, this expansion will be financially independent and sustainable. Additionally, aggregate and de-identified participant data will be presented that incorporates a variety of lifestyle behaviors being impacted by participating in the program.
In summary, we will demonstrate the power of collaboration between multiple entities at a large university to introduce dietary and healthy lifestyle behavior changes. We will also demonstrate how weekly food distribution can be an inducement for employees to engage with health coaching on a regular basis as they begin their healthy lifestyle journey.
- Describe the health care analytics used to identify the worsening obesity/diabetes/blood pressure/cholesterol trends among the segments of the OSU employee population
- Identify workplace and local resources needed to create collaborative partnerships that lead to employee recruitment and engagement
- Develop and deliver a 12 week curriculum that focuses on “meeting people where they are” while providing nutritional wellness tips, healthy food tastings and a cost-effective fresh food program to targeted “at risk” and other diverse populations throughout the university.