for people ages 18 years and up (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by Kartika Palar, PhD



This is a pragmatic randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Changing Health through Food Support for Diabetes (CHEFS-DM). This pragmatic RCT will leverage Project Open Hand's (POH) real-world programs to test the impact of a six month medically tailored food support and nutrition intervention ("CHEFS-DM") on glycemic control and other cardiometabolic outcomes, investigate the paths through which CHEFS-DM may durably improve health, and assess the economic value of the intervention to society.

Official Title

Food is Medicine: Randomized Trial of Medically-Tailored Food Support for Diabetes Health


CHEFS-DM is a six-month intervention providing a diabetes-tailored diet meeting approximately 75% of daily energy requirements and designed based on American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines, together with diabetes nutritional education provided by registered dietitians. In this pragmatic RCT, investigators propose to rigorously evaluate the intervention among 440 low-income adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) recruited from networks of safety net clinics in San Francisco and Alameda counties, California.

Participants will be randomized 1:1 to the intervention (n=220) versus control (n=220), using a parallel design. The study aims are as follows:

Aim 1: To determine the impact of CHEFS-DM on glycemic control and other cardiometabolic outcomes.

Aim 2: To determine the impact of CHEFS-DM on intermediate outcomes that may mediate any impact of CHEFS-DM on T2DM health.

Participant will be followed for 6 months (control arm) and 12 months (intervention arm) with structured interviews, anthropometric assessments, 24-hour dietary recalls, blood pressure measurements, fasting blood draws, semi structured interviews, and medical record review. Follow-up will be broken up into two phases. From baseline to six months, researchers will implement the CHEFS-DM intervention and follow both intervention and control arm participants (n=440). After the end of the six-month follow-up, the intervention arm will transition to receiving standard POH services comprising 33% to 67% of daily energy requirements depending on health status, and will be followed for an additional six months, in order to assess the extent to which any health benefits are sustained at 12 months (n=220). Hence, the control arm will be followed for six months and participate in two sets of assessments (baseline and at six months), and the intervention arm will be followed for 12 months and participate in three sets of assessments (baseline, six months, and twelve months).


Type 2 Diabetes, Food Insecurity, Food security, Diabetes Mellitus, Food assistance, Food support


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18 years and up

  • Confirmed diagnosis of T2DM confirmed by medical or laboratory records. For T2DM, any of the following criteria will be considered (from the American Diabetes


    • glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) ≥6.5%, or
    • fasting plasma glucose of ≥126, or
    • a 2-hour plasma glucose level of 200 or higher during a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test, or
    • a random plasma glucose of 200 or higher in patients with symptoms of hyperglycemia
  • Age ≥18 years.
  • Screening positive for food insecurity (at least one positive answer) in the previous 6 months assessed using the 6-item version of the US Household Food Security Survey Module (US Department of Agriculture), or has household income <200% of the federal poverty level.
  • English or Spanish language fluency.
  • Adequate cognitive and hearing capacity to consent and complete study measures.
  • Reside in Alameda County or San Francisco County.

You CAN'T join if...

  • Type-1 diabetes mellitus
  • Individuals with disorders known to affect the accuracy of the HbA1c measure (e.g., end stage renal disease and individuals with known hemoglobinopathies).
  • Inability to attend the educational workshops.
  • Inability to schedule baseline assessments and/or blood draw after repeated requests.
  • Pregnant individuals, or individuals planning to get pregnant within 6 months, or are lactating, or are postpartum less than 6 months.
  • Current POH clients, past POH clients who stopped services less than 6 months prior, or past or present participants in other POH medically tailored meals studies.
  • Does not have access to food storage, including a refrigerator and freezer to safely keep food.
  • Does not have access to facilities to reheat and prepare meals using Project Open Hand food.
  • Anticipates moving out of study area of Alameda and San Francisco Counties in the next 6 months.
  • Receives more than 1 meal per day from a free food support resource or agency.
  • Allergic to or will not eat eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, seeds or seed oils, or other foods commonly included among ingredients in POH meals.
  • Allergic to dairy products, or unable to tolerate any dairy products including milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Individual does not eat any or all of POH's meat meal options and will not eat the vegetarian POH meal option.


  • Project Open Hand
    San Francisco California 94109 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
About 281 people participating
Last Updated