Online Program

Understanding and Addressing, Chronic Disease, and Health Behaviors amongst Clients Utilizing the Charitable Food System

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Emily Engelhard, MA, Research, Evaluation and Community Health & Nutrition, Feeding America, Chicago, IL
Michelle Berger Marshall, MS, RD, Research, Evaluation and Community Health & Nutrition, Feeding America, Chicago, IL

Individuals struggling with food insecurity are at higher risk of developing diet-sensitive chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. The network of food assistance programs offer an opportunity to study the intersection of food insecurity, the health status of clients utilizing those programs, and the coping strategies they employ.  Feeding America has carried out two initiatives to gain a better understanding of these issues and the efficacy of community-based interventions to improve health behaviors of clients.


Feeding America’s quadrennial Hunger in America 2014 study found a high prevalence of diabetes and hypertension in the population served by the network of food banks. We will conduct additional analyses of this health data, including delineating characteristics of clients and households with chronic disease and reported coping strategies. Presenters will couple this discussion with results from Feeding America’s 3-year Diabetes Initiative pilot, in which food banks provided diabetes-focused, healthful food boxes and educational programming in partnership with healthcare partners.


The results of the Hunger in America 2014 sub-analysis (forthcoming) and the Feeding America Diabetes Initiative will be presented. Health behavior changes from the Diabetes Initiative include improvement in fruit and vegetable intake, medication adherence, and diabetes self-efficacy, demonstrating the value of conducting such interventions in the community setting.  


Attendees will be able to identify and explain the health implications of food insecurity in vulnerable populations. Data on the success of the pilot project to improve health behaviors will support discussion and further research.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the prevalence of chronic disease and food insecurity among clients of charitable food assistance programs. Explain how this population utilizes coping strategies to manage their food insecurity. Describe elements of community interventions that can be effective at improving health status for clients of charitable food assistance programs.

Keyword(s): Chronic Disease Management and Care, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the co-PI on several research grants exploring the intersection of food insecurity and chronic disease and currently oversee the community health and nutrition initiatives, research priorities and programs for the Feeding America food bank network.
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.