Addressing Food Insecurity in Health Care Settings
Interventions to address food insecurity in health care settings will vary by community needs, and the goals and capacity of the partner organizations. However, successful partnerships share three common elements:
- Identify patients living in food insecure households while they are in the health care setting;
- Refer those patients and their families to food bank agencies and programs to connect patients with healthy food access as well as application assistance for SNAP and other long-term nutrition supports;
- Create new food distribution programs in the health care facility when there is sufficient need, interest, and capacity, and/or existing community resources are insufficient.
Screening and Identifying Patients who are Food Insecure:
Providers across health care settings are screening patients for food insecurity, a practice recommended by numerous professional societies including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Diabetes Association
Many screening interventions use the Hunger Vital Sign™, and are increasingly being incorporated into electronic medical record systems.
Two Item Food Insecurity Screening Questions:
I’m going to read you two statements that people have made about their food situation. For each statement, please tell me whether the statement was often true, sometimes true, or never true for your household in the last 12 months.
- “We worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more.” Was that often true, sometimes true, or never true for your household in the last 12 months?
- “The food we bought just didn’t last, and we didn’t have money to get more.” Was that often true, sometimes true, or never true for your household in the last 12 months?
A response of “often true” or “sometimes true” to either question = positive screen for FI.