Key Actions for Successful Anti-Hunger and Health Care Partnerships

by Kim Prendergast, RD, MPP Community Health and Nutrition Consultant, Feeding America

Over the past several years, health care systems and individual providers have recognized their role in identifying and addressing their patients’ food security needs. Efforts to screen for food insecurity in health care settings and facilitate successful connections to anti-hunger organizations and emergency food providers have increasingly become squarely positioned within systems of health care delivery.

But what exactly makes partnerships between the health care and anti-hunger communities successful? Children’s HealthWatch, Feeding America, and the Food Research & Action Center have worked with anti-hunger advocates, emergency food providers and health care providers across the nation as they address food insecurity in health care settings. All three organizations share a common vision of supporting these partnerships to improve food security and health, and have identified four key actions and multiple resources for successful efforts. These actions and resources are outlined in a new brief, “Addressing Food Insecurity in Health Care Settings: Key Actions & Tools for Success.”

Download and review this two-page brief to learn more about the following key actions for addressing food insecurity in health care settings:
1. Make your case to convey the importance of addressing food insecurity;
2. Incorporate food insecurity screening into the institutional workflow;
3. Build cross-sector partnerships to address short and long term food needs of patients; and
4. Advocate for a strong nutrition safety net.

The path that anti-hunger and health care partnerships take to addressing food insecurity in their communities can take many twists and turns, and is not without a few pitfalls. Like any well-trodden path, the growing number of successful health care and anti-hunger community partnerships across the U.S. offer valuable guideposts for others to follow and learn from. Whether it is building awareness of the connections between food insecurity and health, developing and fine-tuning pathways from screening to assistance services, or achieving total alignment among key health care and anti-hunger stakeholders, the four key actions outlined in the new brief offer the latest best practices to start or enhance efforts to address food insecurity in health care settings.

“Addressing Food Insecurity in Health Care Settings: Key Actions & Tools for Success” was prepared in February 2018 by Children’s HealthWatch, Feeding America and the Food Research & Action Center.

Kim Prendergast is a registered dietitian and advocate for improving food security as a social determinant of health. She is a consultant for Feeding America’s Community Health and Nutrition efforts. This blog post and the resource “Addressing Food Insecurity in Health Care Settings: Key Actions & Tools for Success” was co-written with Rich Seward of Children’s Health Watch and Heather Hartline-Grafton from the Food Research & Action Center.