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Tackling Food Insecurity Requires Commitment from Everyone

June 21, 2019

During the spring, HAP convened a collaborative to identify strategies for addressing social determinants of health. The group will be developing measures and strategies that focus heavily on housing and food insecurity. In addition, through HAP’s Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health (COACH) initiative, Philadelphia area hospitals and health systems continue to take steps to better screen patients for food insecurity and connect them to much-needed assistance.

This week, several state leaders gave further credence to the importance of such partnership efforts. First Lady Frances Wolf, Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller, and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale specifically highlighted the effects of food insecurity on health during an event in York County with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. 

They spoke to the impact of chronic hunger and food insecurity on a person’s health and well-being, and the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s anti-hunger program that helps more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians avoid food insecurity. 

In addition, they highlighted Setting the Table: Blueprint for a Hunger-Free PA, which was developed in response to the Governor’s Food Security Partnership. The blueprint has resulted in expanded food security programs in the Medicaid system; greater education about SNAP; cross-department work on hunger initiatives; and improved processes that have bolstered the success of SNAP in Pennsylvania.

Secretary Miller discussed the need for a broad-based commitment from the private, public, and non-profit sectors of government “to provide interventions and supports to lift low-income families out of poverty and toward better health outcomes.”

HAP will continue to keep members apprised of the work being done by the collaborative to share best practices and leverage resources to address social determinants of health. We encourage members to share their work with us, and educate elected officials about the importance of these efforts.

For information about the collaborative, contact Rob Shipp, HAP’s vice president, quality and population health.

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