Nutrition services

VA Telehealth improves access to nutrition services

Nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. The nutrition and food service programs offered by VA can help with weight management and focus on nutrition-related health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and kidney disease.

Accessing these programs is easier than ever with telehealth technology, such as VA Video Connect, VA’s secure video conferencing application.

Kari Mularcik, Head of Nutrition Services at Central Ohio, Virginia, has seen the positive impact of virtual nutrition care. Many veterans have joined these specialized nutrition programs because they are convenient. They might not have joined if they had to visit a VA facility, but the virtual aspect makes them accessible.

Only 10% of appointments are in person

Today, every VA facility is offering virtual appointments. In Central Ohio VA, only 10% of nutrition appointments are in person. This has opened the door for veterans who appreciate the accessibility and convenience of a video date.

“Instead of taking three or four hours off to come see us, they can take a break from work and use 30 minutes for a virtual date,” Mularcik said.

This is also a benefit for many establishments that may not have the physical space for so many in-person appointments during the day.

Central Ohio VA in Columbus offered VA Video Connect tours prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is especially helpful for veterans who live in rural areas far from the VA facility. But Mularcik said the number of veterans using VA telehealth has increased significantly since 2020.

Telehealth programs for nutritional care

In addition to video visits, VA offers telehealth programs to assist veterans with nutritional care:

  • MOVEMENT! is a national weight management program that helps veterans set goals to lose, gain or maintain weight. Veterans can meet virtually in a group setting with VA providers.
  • The Home Telehealth program monitors veterans’ health data remotely through connected devices. These devices include activity trackers, blood pressure and glucose monitors, smartwatches and more.
  • Healthy Teaching Kitchen is a virtual cooking class that shows veterans the basic skills to help them maintain a healthy diet. These classes also help veterans with specific nutritional needs, including those with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Learn more on virtual care options for veterans.