Health Tech, Payers

FarmboxRx Unveils Maternal Health Program

FarmboxRx’s new maternal health program sends members a food box, along with educational content to support them during their pregnancy. This content focuses on a variety of topics, including prenatal and postpartum care visit compliance, postpartum mental health, immunizations and prenatal and postpartum nutrition.

FarmboxRx, a healthy food company, has launched a program that provides nutritious food and tailored education to those going through their maternal health journey, the company announced Tuesday.

Boston-based FarmboxRx contracts with payers (primarily Medicaid and Medicare programs) to deliver produce boxes, cooking kits, educational materials and pantry items to patients’ doors. 

Its new maternal health program is customizable by the health plan and sends members a food box, which is different based on the population. For example, members who don’t have a refrigerator may receive shelf-stable foods like apples and oranges. The company can also send food to cater to different cultures as well. The boxes may also come with food items that are good for pregnancy, like beets.

In addition to food, the boxes provide a magazine with educational content. This content can be offered in different languages and focuses on a variety of topics, including prenatal and postpartum care visit compliance, postpartum mental health, immunizations and prenatal and postpartum nutrition. In addition, there is information on how to enroll in government support programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Members can also access this information on a website that is provided in the box.

“We’re really pushing things like why it’s really important to go to that postnatal discharge appointment, not just for the mom but for the baby to get a weigh-in just in case the baby is not gaining weight and to check for jaundice, things like that,” said Ashley Tyrner, founder and CEO of FarmboxRx, in an interview.

Depending on the health plan working with FarmboxRx, members can get additional food boxes. In some cases, members may have to fill out a survey that asks about social determinants of health, like if the member is transportation insecure or housing insecure. 

“It really can be designed around the plan,” Tyrner explained. “Maybe members have to do tasks to get other boxes, or maybe the plan is just trying to educate them on these other tasks and they don’t have to do other tasks in order to get other boxes.”

Tyrner chose to create the maternal health program because of her own experience.

“I was a Medicaid mom,” she said. “I went through the Medicaid system to have my daughter. If that system was not available to me, I don’t know what I would have done … and I lived in a rural area. I was very fortunate that I had a really great doctor that listened to all of my complaints.”

FarmboxRx is not the only company addressing food insecurity for women during pregnancy. Other companies include Season Health and NourishedRx.

This kind of support is needed considering the maternal mortality rate is on the rise in the U.S. In 2021, the maternal mortality rate was 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, according to the CDC. The maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women is 2.6 times the rate for non-Hispanic White women.

While a lot of stakeholders are talking about innovation within healthcare to improve outcomes — like the use of AI — Tyrner argued that people are “starting to get ahead of their skis.”

“We have something as simple as people not knowing they need to redetermine for Medicaid and they’re not knowing until they go to the doctor for their diabetic check-in … and then they have to go through the bureaucracy process again,” she argued. “We need to be teaching people about the benefits that they do have available to them, and we need to have a better way of teaching them about these benefits.”

When asked what she hopes to achieve with the maternal health program, Tyrner said she hopes to help members “speak up at their appointments and advocate for themselves.”

Photo: fcafotodigital, Getty Images