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BPHC Completes Meal Delivery Pilot Program to Improve Access to Postpartum Support for Boston Families

Program highlights impact of healthy food, community, and support systems for maternal health

BOSTON – Thursday, June 13, 2024 – The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) piloted a 10-week meal delivery program for postpartum families in Boston to improve maternal and mental health outcomes among families of color. Led by the Boston Healthy Start Initiative (BHSI) in the Commission’s Child, Adolescent, and Family Health (CAFH) Bureau, 14 participating families received snacks and two meals each week that serve up to a family of four. Families also received smoothie kits, fruit pouches, dry snacks, a breastfeeding kit, and materials to aid in early breastfeeding continuity. In addition, families became connected to other Commission programs and received home visits from nurses from Welcome Family and Healthy Baby Healthy Child to engage, connect, and work towards a smooth recovery and bonding process for family and baby. At the end of the 10 weeks, families were asked to fill out feedback surveys to help the Commission consider future possibilities of how to support postpartum families in Boston.  

“Throughout our city, women and infants face significant challenges to their health and well-being, particularly during the postpartum period,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “We are continuing to find ways to improve health outcomes, particularly among Black women who are at higher risk of death during pregnancy and postpartum. This pilot program demonstrates a coordinated approach to providing support during a critical period for both mother and child.” 

The postpartum period is one of significant physical, psychological, and social change for mothers and their families. Data from the State show Black women in Massachusetts are 1.9 times more likely to die during pregnancy or within one-year of the postpartum period. They also have a 70% greater risk of severe maternal morbidity. At the same time, Black mothers have less access to culturally competent postpartum support, support groups, and mental health care. Data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) show a higher prevalence in postpartum depressive symptoms among Black women when compared to white women in the State as a whole. The Commission’s Health of Boston Maternal and Child Report also highlights persistent disparities in morbidity and mortality among Black versus white infants and Black pregnant women in Boston.  

“In many cultures there’s a ‘lying in’ period following the birth of a new baby where Mom takes significant time to rest and heal while the community tends to her and her household's needs,” said Tracy Skelly, owner of Little Cocoa Bean Company. “For far too many mothers there's no community to care for them and their household, and this initiative is changing that. We are excited to provide meals during the first 10 weeks after birth in hopes that it will enable more lying in and promote healing.” 

This program happened in partnership with Little Cocoa Bean and Feast & Fettle. The Commission and Little Cocoa Bean have a longstanding partnership to provide families with access to vital resources and healthy, diverse food during a child’s first 1000 days of life. Feast & Fettle is an online-order meal delivery service chosen to participate in this pilot. 

“I’m able to eat the food for multiple days without having to worry about cooking, and with that it gives me more time to focus on the baby,” said Jessica Beharry, program participant, mother. “I like how I’m able to go on the website and pick the meals that I want and what time it is going to be delivered. I find myself looking forward to eating the food each day.”  

"We believe that good nutrition is essential for recovery and well-being," said Carlos Ventura, CEO of Feast & Fettle. "Our mission is to deliver wholesome, delicious meals that support both physical health and emotional well-being for new mothers and their families." 

Participating families are current BHSI participating families who live in Boston or are receiving services at affiliated health care centers in Dorchester, Roxbury, or Mattapan. They were selected for this pilot based on their delivery due date and interest for more support. 

“BHSI was created to provide Black pregnant and parenting families the support they need to thrive,” said Uchenna Ndulue, Director of the Child, Adolescent, and Family Health Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission. "Even though this is currently a one-time pilot, this program is part of a larger push to address maternal health inequities and improve access to culturally responsive services and resources.” 

The Child, Adolescent, and Family Health (CAFH) Bureau provides a variety of services to families across Boston. Programs like BHSI, Welcome Family, Healthy Baby Healthy Child, and Father Friendly support family health and provide direct services to expecting and parenting families, such as home visits and case management services that promote father involvement and family engagement. All services are free, voluntary, and confidential. Since 2020, nearly 3,000 mothers and families have been connected with coordinated care, resources, education, and advocacy.  

Visit to learn more about BPHC bureaus and programming.  

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