The Importance of Providing Culturally Inspired Meals

Erin Dixon

Registered Dietitian

A culturally diverse population of older adults requires an equally diverse variety of foods. Those on medically restricted diets for conditions such as diabetes or renal disease need low-cholesterol and kidney-friendly meals. In this interview, registered dietitian Erin Dixon explains how LiveWell with Traditions’ medically tailored meal benefit supports individuals in meeting their nutritional needs while also enjoying the culturally inspired dishes they love.

What are the benefits of providing culturally inspired meals to health plan members?

It’s important for people who require medically tailored meals or those in the post-acute hospital discharge period to find the foods they eat appealing. Culturally inspired meals that cater to their preferences offer flavors they know, enjoy, and feel comfortable with, so they’re more likely to eat them and get the nutrition they need.

Plus, a diverse menu encourages people to explore new flavors. Many older adults who participate in meal programs have a broad range of experiences with international cuisine, making them more open to a culturally diverse menu.

How do you design medically tailored meals to be nutritionally and culturally appropriate?

First, we address dietary needs by consulting with nationally recognized organizations that are experts on each disease state to find out the best metrics for groups suffering from conditions like renal disease, high blood pressure, or congestive heart failure. For example, we turn to the American Diabetic Association for its nutrition recommendations for the diabetic community. Then, we design our culturally inspired meals to incorporate those recommendations.

How do you ensure the authenticity and nutritional value of cultural meals?

The chef who leads our Research & Development team ensures that the flavor profile of each cultural meal matches the authentic flavor that someone from that background would expect. The R&D department does extensive testing, and each meal takes 6-12 months to develop from conception to production. Creating a meal that meets flavor, ingredient expectations, and nutritional requirements involves significant effort and attention to detail.

What are some examples of the cultural meals you offer?

LiveWell with Traditions’ home delivery service is continually adding new meals to our menus to keep things fresh for health plan members. We strive to include meals from the most frequently requested cultures.

Some current examples include Latin-inspired huevos rancheros, comforting Southern smoked sausage with mac & cheese, and Thai chili meatballs with rice, bringing an Asian flair to our offerings.

What impact have cultural meals had on member satisfaction and engagement?

Offering culturally inspired meals provides members with more options and variety.  Many current and new participants in our meal benefit program have diverse tastes and higher expectations due to their extensive travel experiences. By incorporating meals from various cultures, we meet their desire for variety, leading to higher STAR ratings and overall satisfaction with their meal benefit.

Cultural meals as a supplemental MAO benefit from LiveWell with Traditions

LiveWell with Traditions provides delicious, culturally diverse meals as a health plan benefit to MAO members and others who require a diabetic- or renal-friendly diet for better health. We ensure that all home-delivered meals provide the nutrients older adults or those in the post-acute discharge period need for optimal wellness.
Contact LiveWell with Traditions for more information about our other medically tailored, culturally diverse meals, or to discuss the benefits of bringing our meal program to your members.


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