Across the lifespan, food insecurity increases the risk of poor health and contributes to increased health care utilization and costs. As a result, a growing number of health care systems and individual providers have recognized their role in identifying and addressing food insecurity in the health care setting (i.e., “screen and intervene”). The anti-hunger community is well-positioned to partner with health care systems and providers in this work given their expertise in food insecurity and food assistance.
FRAC and our partners have developed a number of free resources and tools to educate and equip health care and other community-based providers to effectively screen and intervene, including strategies to connect at-risk patients to the federal nutrition programs. Key resources and tools are highlighted below.
Did you know?
FRAC, Feeding America, and Children’s HealthWatch have identified four key actions to effectively address food insecurity in health care settings:
- Make your case to convey the importance of addressing food insecurity;
- Incorporate food insecurity screening into the institutional workflow;
- Build cross-sector partnerships to address short- and long-term food needs of patients; and
- Advocate for a strong nutritional safety net.
Screen & Intervene Resources & Tools
- Hunger Vital Sign Screening ToolThe Hunger Vital Sign™ is a two-question screening tool that identifies individuals and families as being at risk for food insecurity.
There are many benefits to using the Hunger Vital Sign™. For example, the tool:
- Is easy to use in clinical or community-based settings;
- Has been validated in pediatric and adult populations;
- Can be administered verbally or in writing; and
- Is available in English, Spanish, and other languages.
More information on the Hunger Vital Sign™ is available from Children’s HealthWatch.
- Addressing Food Insecurity: A Toolkit for PediatriciansThis toolkit from FRAC and the American Academy of Pediatrics is designed for health providers who work with children. The toolkit provides tools, resources, and materials to screen for food insecurity and connect families to federal nutrition programs and other resources.
- Screen and Intervene: Addressing Food Insecurity Among Older AdultsDeveloped by FRAC and the AARP Foundation, this free, online course is designed for health care providers and community-based partners working with older adults. While the focus is on older adults, much of the information and many of the strategies are relevant across the lifespan.
In just 60 minutes, learners will learn how to:
- Define food insecurity;
- Identify the risk factors for food insecurity among older adults;
- Identify the negative health outcomes that food-insecure patients may face;
- Use the Hunger Vital Sign™ screening tool; and
- Connect individuals to SNAP, additional nutrition resources, and community partners.
The course also includes downloadable resources that can readily be used in clinical settings. Continuing education credit is available, too, for medical doctors, dietitians, and other health care professionals.
- An Overview of Food Insecurity Coding in Health Care Settings: Existing and Emerging OpportunitiesDeveloped by the Hunger Vital Sign National Community of Practice, this brief reviews existing and emerging opportunities to document food insecurity screening, assessment, intervention, and billing for each part of a patient visit. (The Hunger Vital Sign National Community of Practice is co-convened by FRAC and Children’s HealthWatch.)
- Addressing Food Insecurity in Health Care Settings: Key Actions & Tools for SuccessChildren’s HealthWatch, Feeding America, and FRAC have worked with anti-hunger advocates, emergency food providers, and health care providers across the nation as they address food insecurity in health care settings. All three organizations share a common vision of supporting these partnerships to improve food security and health, and, in this brief, have identified four key actions and multiple resources for successful efforts.
- Hunger Vital Sign National Community of PracticeFRAC co-convenes the Hunger Vital Sign National Community of Practice with Children’s HealthWatch. The Community of Practice meets quarterly and works to facilitate conversations and collective action among a wide-range of stakeholders who are interested in addressing food insecurity through a health care lens. The group:
- Collects and conducts research on the connections between food insecurity and health;
- Promotes the use of the Hunger Vital Sign™ to screen for food insecurity; and
- Champions effective interventions to address food insecurity both at the practice and policy level.
If you are interested in becoming a member, email Heather Hartline-Grafton (firstname.lastname@example.org). (There is no cost to being a member.)
- Additional Screen & Intervene Resources from our Partners