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Viocare and Lambent Data Partner to Improve Food Security

Viocare, Inc. and Lambent Data, Inc. have announced that the NJ Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology (“CSIT”) has awarded a grant for the proposal on which Viocare and Lambent partnered to improve food security.

Through this grant, the two companies will further develop technology that 1) assists low-income families to thrive by addressing nutrition and social drivers of food insecurity and 2) supports social service and healthcare practitioners in helping families flourish.

Viocare and Lambent have developed a strategic partnership including this work in New Jersey and extending it elsewhere in the US.

In this project, Viocare and Lambent will further develop and integrate the following components: 1) Viocare’s experience building evidence-based nutritional assessments licensed by world-leading hospitals and universities, 2) Updating Viocare’s Living Well Navigator (LWN) to incorporate newly available technologies, 3) Assessments related to Social Drivers of Health (SDoHs), and 4) Lambent’s OurREACH™ HIPAA-compliant collaborative platform and app, with data analytics and AI, offering robust milestones, goals, integrated resources, and communication regarding health and SDoHs.

“CSIT is pleased to support the work of Viocare through the Food and Agriculture R&D Pilot Grant Program. Its innovative approach and partnership with Lambent Data in implementing new technologies, including AI, addresses the food security needs of communities across the state, resulting in increased access to nutritious foods. Providing R&D Seed Grants to businesses in critical sectors is both beneficial to the individual entities and important to the strength of New Jersey’s overall innovation economy,” said Judith Sheft, executive director, NJ CSIT.

According to the NJ Department of Health, in 2020, more than 650,000 New Jerseyans, including over 175,000 children, were food insecure (7.4% overall and 9% of children), including 22% of South Jersey children. About 17% of Blacks and Hispanics are food insecure. The NJ Economic Development Authority has mapped 50 Food Desert Communities spanning nearly 1.5 million people across all 21 counties.

Food insecurity also causes ripple effects, including difficulty for children to concentrate in school, and exacerbates diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Food insecurity flows from various reasons. Along with the need for more nutritional knowledge for specific health conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension), key drivers include lack of transportation to access healthy foods, low incomes, reduced financial literacy (budgeting, etc.), lack of working appliances, and long commutes to multiple jobs (causing less time to shop, cook, etc.).

This technology will address all these issues and more – empowering people to identify their individual nutrition gaps and specific food insecurity challenges, then work through personalized solutions, with milestones (e.g., nutrition, transportation, jobs, etc.), integrated local resources, and communication with a community health worker or other staff.

Through the project, LWN will also add HIPAA-compliant artificial intelligence (AI) to improve personalized recommendations for food security and OurREACH™ will further develop its HIPAA-compliant AI elements.

A healthcare/social service organization would subscribe to this combined technology, to be used by low-income patients/clients “between visits.” The staff could see and encourage the participants’ progress in “light touch” ways. The technology will integrate with EHR/CRM systems – or could be used stand-alone. Its new, granular data will help providers improve programs. Community-based social service and healthcare organizations in NJ will also participate in this project, for valuable input, ongoing feedback, and a pilot.

“This powerful solution will combine Viocare’s scientifically validated, evidence-based dietary assessment software tools with Lambent’s cutting-edge technology in personalized family engagement solutions, including through AI,” said Rick Weiss, president and founder of Viocare. “We thank CSIT for its strong commitment to innovation. By improving food security, this technology can also reduce healthcare costs.”

“Lambent is excited about working with Viocare to advance personalized nutrition, helping people thrive in both health and SDoHs,” noted Kirsten Hund Blair, Lambent Data’s co-founder & CEO. “We’re grateful for CSIT’s vision. We’re also looking forward to working with community-based social service and healthcare organizations, including helping save staff time.”

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