Cathryn Couch served 1m medically tailored meals to low income people with health challenges

Food is medicine but also poison. The food that we intake can be our medicine but this could also be another thing that kills us. We discuss this today with Cathryn Couch, who has served over one million organic medically tailored meals to low income people struggling from health challenges. Cathryn is the founder and CEO for Ceres Community Project, a non-profit organization working to foster health by connecting people to one another and to a healthier food system.


We talk about Food as Medicine a lot in previous episodes of the podcast. We always discuss ways of measuring nutrient density etc., but hardly cover the medical side of things. Who is mostly at risk of chronically illness are the people who can’t afford healthy meals to begin with. So how do we make food as medicine part of every medical discussion and how do we bring soil health into that conversation as well. Cathryn Couch is showing it is a much better investment to provide someone healthy food than to deal with the effects later, like a very expensive readmission in an hospital.

Food: Medicine and Poison

Cathryn works on medically tailored meals. She always had a big interest in food, health, and educating about the solutions to global hunger. This led her to starting an organic home delivering service, the Ceres Community Project. This is an opportunity of making a difference in someone’s life and connecting to the things she felt passionate about.

“This opportunity was to connect two things that I felt really deeply about. One was the fact that so many young people today are growing up in families where cooking does not happen. Family dinners do not happen. So that fundamental life skill, the ability to prepare a healthy meal for oneself and one’s family was not happening for so many kids. That puts their future families at risk from a food system that is profit driven and does not really care about their health.” – Cathryn Couch 

Medical Tailored Meals

What is the meaning of medical tailored meals and how does it cater to various ranges of chronic health conditions? Cathryn addresses these questions through Ceres Community Project initiatives. The organization is taking the next level of nutrition understanding and matching the meal to the specific needs of the patient. 

One of these initiatives is to make sure to use a hundred percent whole grain, organic, no added sugar, and truly healthy food. They are currently moving to work with low-income populations wherein diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc. are prevalent. 

“It’s a higher level of understanding that for people with health conditions you have to take into account the specific nutritional needs of that patient and tailor the meals to meet that. –  Cathryn Couch 

Effects of Cheap Processed Food 

Cheap processed food may seem affordable but in the end, someone is going to pay the costs. Ceres Community Project could change the chronic disease trajectory in a generation, but there is a lot of present misinformation. Additionally, many of the low-income families in most countries do not have the ability to access the kind of quality food that their bodies need.

It’s fundamental to spend more on healthcare and social care. Investing in food will allow all people to build healthy and productive lives. 

One of the challenges is that we’re trying to bring medically tailored meals into the healthcare space. We’re trying to connect the dots between our food system and the way that we fund food programs in the US and healthcare. We are trying to make the point that if we underfund food, we end up essentially paying for it on the healthcare side. We have to start connecting the dots between those two and understanding that food is the first line of defense against illness.”  – Cathryn Couch 

Social Determinants of Health

There is a growing understanding that health care cannot be improved without addressing the social determinants of health. The 20% of health is driven by the clinical healthcare setting wherein people invest their money in, the 30% are the lifestyle changes that are made and 40% are the social determinants of health. 

These things impact a person’s ability to make healthy choices. The environment one lives in and social status can affect whether or not they have access to healthy food. The remaining 10 % are the genetics and environmental factors.

“Healthcare has been pressed to realize that they have to now think about the things that happen outside the doctor’s office. When you look at housing, financial literacy, financial empowerment, and food. Food becomes the easiest and the cheapest thing to take on.” Cathryn Couch 

Other Important Points Discussed

Koen and Cathryn discussed also:

  • What Cathryn thinks is the logical next step in order to get soil health into the conversation
  • What Cathryn thinks is needed to make sure soil is part of the revolution that is happening in terms of food as medicine
  • What Cathyrn would do if she had a magical wand that could change one thing in the food and agriculture space

To know more about Cathryn Couch and Ceres Community Project is helping youth development, culinary, and food system education programs, download and listen to this episode.


Cathryn Couch is the founder and CEO for Ceres Community Project, a non- profit working to foster health by connecting people to one another and to a healthier food system. Ceres provides 185,000 organic medically tailored meals annually to low income people struggling because of a health challenge. Youth volunteers grow food and prepare the meals as part of a youth development, culinary and food system education program.


For other interviews about food as medicine and nutrient dense food discover the interviews with:

and many more here.


Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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