223993 An Intervention to Address the High Prevalence of Food Insecurity and Hunger among a Primarily Latino, Low-income Patient Population in Chelsea, MA

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 5:10 PM - 5:30 PM

Jeff Milner, MSA Ed , Department of Community Health Improvement, Massachusetts General Hospital Chelsea HealthCare Center, Chelsea, MA
Kathleen Healey, CPNP, MSN , Pediatrics, MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, Chelsea, MA
Melissa Dimond, ScM , Department of Community Health Improvement, MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, Chelsea, MA
Sarah Oo, MSW , Department of Community Health Improvement, MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, Chelsea, MA
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Chelsea HealthCare Center is the primary source of health care services for residents of Chelsea, Massachusetts, an urban community where poverty rates are more than double the statewide average. Chelsea is home to a large number of refugees from distinct cultures, and Latinos comprise more than 48 percent of the population. In 2003, the Food for Families research protocol was launched and converted into a permanent intervention program in 2009, with expansion beyond Pediatrics to Adult Medicine. Its purpose is to assess the prevalence of food insecurity and hunger among Pediatric and Adult Medicine primary care patients. Identified patients receive concrete food resource information and assistance with enrollment in local and government-sponsored food assistance programs.

The strength of the program hinges on the use of a validated, universal screening tool that is given to all patients upon arrival for routine appointments. From October 2008 to January 2010, 4,004 patients were screened for food insecurity in the Pediatrics department. Of these, 935 (23%) were found to be food insecure. From October 2009 through January 2010, 162 patients were screened in Adult Medicine. Of these, 85 (52 %) were found to be food insecure.

As a result of these staggering numbers, MGH Chelsea has established partnerships with the local SNAP authority (SNAP is the program formerly known as ‘Food Stamps'), and Massachusetts' leading anti-hunger organization, Project Bread. Staff members from these agencies are available to assist patients at the health center once a week.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify an intervention for food insecurity using a health care model. 2. Identify appropriate food assistance options for food insecure patients. 3. Discuss how to provide culturally appropriate services in a predominantly Latino community.

Keywords: Nutrition, Poverty

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I oversee the Food for Families Program which includes the expansion to other medical departments at the health care center
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.