Online Program

Implementing Food Insecurity Screening at a Community Health Center

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Kathryn Bailey, BA, School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Rachel Erdil, BA, School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Elizabeth Rosen, BA, School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Melanie Gnazzo, M.D., Family Health Center of Worcester, Worcester, MA
Introduction: The Farm-to-Health Center Initiative aims to reduce rates of food insecurity (FI) at a federally qualified community health center (CHC) by implementing a FI patient screening program and increasing referrals to food assistance programs. The Initiative reflects collaboration among medical students, a CHC, and a hunger-relief farm. FI has been linked to a range of poor health outcomes, yet is often overlooked by healthcare providers. A prior need assessment at this CHC showed 67% were FI; 53% had never been asked about FI.

Approach: We assessed existing resources, compiled a list of local food assistance programs, researched screening models in other clinical settings, and met with CHC patient advocates and WIC staff. We presented the health impacts of FI and screening tools to clinic staff and gathered feedback on the utility of screening. Partnering with a CHC physician, we developed an algorithm for FI screening and referral.

Results: We conferred with relevant CHC committees, learned the importance of listening to CHC staff, the benefit of connecting existing resources, the necessity to learn from other programs doing this work, and the difficulty of adding a new screening tool.

Discussion: Systemic change is a slow process, yet preliminary results show that there is a need for FI screening and both staff and patients identify it as a priority. We are in the process of integrating the screening algorithm into the CHC’s work flow and plan to collect data on the efficacy of screening in increasing referrals to food assistance programs.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Define food insecurity and the validated 2-question screen for food insecurity Describe the potential role of health centers in identifying food insecure patients and referring them to food assistance resources List examples of food security resources

Keyword(s): Food Security, Underserved Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Kathryn researched the impacts of food insecurity on children’s health as part of the Children’s HealthWatch research group and has continued to be involved in scholarly work regarding food and housing insecurity while a medical student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
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.