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Report Explores How Doctors Can Help Patients Fight Food Insecurity

Report Explores How Doctors Can Help Patients Fight Food Insecurity


Amanda Schultz Brochu, CalFresh outreach director, San Diego Hunger Coalition


The San Diego Hunger Coalition released a report last month on how doctors can screen patients to find out if they’re struggling to put food on the table and connect them to food assistance programs.

For its research, the Hunger Coalition launched five pilot programs over the last two years in distinct health care settings throughout the county.

“The integration of food security screening questions into electronic health records has been identified as a best practice,” said Amanda Schultz Brochu, CalFresh outreach director at the Coalition.

“We found that by embedding those questions into the health record, it makes it really easy for doctors to integrate this conversation into the normal patient care visit. It destigmatizes the food insecurity conversation and it also allows for mass data collection so that we’re able to look across patient populations and really start to better understand how large of an impact this is having on individual health outcomes,” she added.

Schultz Brochu said providing on-site food resource assistance is also key to address food insecurity in patient populations.

The Hunger Coalition estimates more than 485,000 San Diego County residents don’t have enough food for an “active, healthy” life.

Dr. Sunny Smith, co-medical director of the UC San Diego Student Run Free Clinic Project, said they had never systematically addressed food insecurity before and through the new screening process they found out most of their patients were food insecure.

"In the hierarchy of human need its really this is one of the most basic human needs and we have not been addressing it routinely in health care I think we've been really missing the boat," she said.

Participating health care providers are also offering on-site CalFresh same-day enrollment programs.

Schultz Brochu discusses the impacts of food insecurity on health Wednesday on Midday Edition.


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