Health Care Professionals: Partners in Alleviating Food Insecurity

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Health Care Professionals: Partners in Alleviating Food Insecurity

14, February 2018 11:00 AM


Food insecurity is a growing problem that impacts the health of families throughout the United States. Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.1 It affects one in eight individuals (13.4 percent) in the United States2, and one in five children (20.7 percent) in California.3 Feeding America logo

Lack of adequate and nutritious food can negatively impact growth and development, mental health and academic achievement for children.4 Food insecurity is an important, but often overlooked, factor that affects long-term health and has been identified as a key factor for chronic disease. As registered dietitian nutritionists, physicians and other health care providers, you can play a significant role in addressing food insecurity, thereby improving the health outcomes of patients and families.

Food Research & Action Center logoToolkits are available to help you identify individuals who are food insecure, address the issue in a sensitive manner and connect patients and families to local and national resources. The toolkits provided by Feeding America/Humana and the Food Research and Action Center are available to all health care providers.

In addition to improving access to healthy food, health care professionals can be instrumental in guiding parents and students to make healthy food choices. Dairy Council of California provides free educator guides, nutrition education booklets and My Wellness Prescription pads to use in your clinic or other settings. My Wellness Prescription Pad for health professionals

Providers can help educate families about accessing the free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs at school, along with the summer meals programs that help keep kids healthy when school is out. 

As health care professionals, you are uniquely positioned to address food insecurity and help improve the health of adults and children in the United States. For copies of the My Wellness Prescription pads and associated guide, please contact [email protected].

Authors
Alyson Foote, RDN
Project Manager, Food Systems + Access

Kristal Shelden, MPH, RDN
Project Manager, Nutrition Sciences

References

  1. Definitions of food security. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service website. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/definitions-of-food-security/. Updated October 4, 2017. Accessed February 9, 2018. 
  2. Food security in the United States. Feeding America website. http://map.feedingamerica.org/. Accessed February 9, 2018.
  3. Map the Meal Gap 2017: Child Food Insecurity in California by County in 2015. Feeding America. http://www.feedingamerica.org/research/map-the-meal-gap/2015/MMG_AllCounties_CDs_CFI_2015_1/CA_AllCounties_CDs_CFI_2015.pdf. Accessed February 9, 2018.
  4. American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement. Promoting food security for all children. Pediatrics. 2015;136(5):e1431-1438. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-3301. Accessed February 9, 2018.



Tags: Alyson Foote food access food insecurity healthy eating for kids Kristal Shelden nutrition education booklets School Breakfast school lunch summer meals

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