Dec 13, 2023

Axios

Exclusive: Season Health nabs $7M for food-as-medicine

Food-as-medicine startup Season Health received $7 million in fresh capital, on the heels of an acquisition last month, CEO Josh Hix tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: As the obesity management space grows, food-as-medicine is gaining traction, with new legislation set to fuel more growth.

Details: The round includes investments from Inception Health, the innovation arm of the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) health network, as well as Ziegler Link-age Fund.

  • The Froedtert & MCW network is a system in eastern Wisconsin with 10 hospital locations, 29 health centers and more than 2,300 physicians.

  • This investment broadens the health system's commitment to Season, with plans to launch two Season programs in early 2024.

  • Members across Froedtert's employee population will also gain in-network access to Season's dietitian network.

Catch up quick: Season announced the acquisition of the clinical assets of dietitian network Wellory in late November.

  • Hix told Axios at that time the company had no "concrete plans" to fundraise again.

Yes, but: "We were not proactively fundraising," Hix says.

  • "But with inbound interest from clients and other investors, we were excited to take an investment from one of our clients in particular."

  • Hix notes the financing is primarily an avenue to get a concentrated patient population (in this case, Inception Health's) using Season's program so the company can fine-tune its platform from there.

  • The newly expanded partnership can be used "as a sandbox, to really refine our programs and test our new ones," he says.

How it works: Andreessen Horowitz-backed Season Health offers patients a combination of nutrition care and access to affordable, medically tailored meals and groceries delivered through a wide variety of vendors.

  • Season members engage with registered dietitians three to four times per month, on average, via both messaging and virtual visits, per the company.

  • The company has expanded its offering to treat obesity, hypertension, nutrition insecurity and high risk pregnancy.

What they're saying: "We have identified food as medicine as a focus intervention for our population health strategy," says Inception Health director Mike Maschek.

  • "Based our very in-depth scan of the food-as-medicine space, Season Health stood out as the clear leader with a platform that brings together a comprehensive offering," Maschek says.

  • "Season Health stood out for its comprehensive turnkey model," says Jenny Poth, VP at Ziegler.

  • "From a virtual Registered Dietitian clinic to an enormous library of recipes, and from a diversified food marketplace to a benefits bank, we believe Season Health meaningfully reduces barriers to accessing healthy, delicious food for many different populations."

  • She noted how Season demonstrated a meaningful, quantifiable impact from using its solutions, even in its earliest days.

  • "For instance, the company performed a study with a health plan in which over 200 of their health plan members with type 2 diabetes tried the Season Health program for 90 days and they saw A1c meaningfully reduced in just that short period of time, plus high engagement rates and satisfaction scores."

  • "We are eager to measure the impact this solution has for people with many other diagnoses and see nutritional support become an expected component of care plans for many chronic conditions."

What's next: Season is profitable on a unit-economic basis and has no plans to fundraise again until 2025, Hix says.

State of play: The food as medicine sector continues to see new players jump into the space.

  • Cityblock Health, which provides a caregiving team for Medicaid populations specifically, has community care partners that help patients access fresh food, childcare and housing.

  • Bitewell, a food-as-medicine marketplace for employers, closed a $4 million seed round.

  • Albertsons — set to be acquired by Kroger for $25 billion if regulators allow itlaunched its digital health platform Sincerely Health in February, which helps users make choices about food, physical activity, sleep and mindfulness.