Food Insecurity Screening Strengthens Safety Net

mother hugging daughter

Puget Sound AHA connects healthcare and community groups to reach people in need.

Improving nutrition security means connecting the dots among area community and clinical groups that provide services for under resourced vulnerable populations.

With a regionwide plan, the AHA’s Puget Sound team:

  • Collaborated with organizations to identify those who need food and nutrition resources;
  • Worked alongside area health department teams to integrate food security screening, referral, nutrition education and produce prescriptions into their programs; and
  • Expanded reach to include community settings, as many people access health care from different sources.

One example of the power of collaboration: Working with a regional youth organization, the Puget Sound AHA team helped build a process to screen families for food insecurity and provide referrals to food resources. Together we’re reaching 2,200 children and their families annually, many in lower-income brackets.

Puget Sound AHA also worked with a senior housing organization to set up a food security screening and referral process, plus open on-site food pantries. Housing organization staff can now connect with more than 1,100 seniors a year and help support their food and nutrition needs.

“Being able to expose so many different generations to fresh fruits and vegetables was a true learning experience for them,” said Ken Kramer, program manager, Resident Services, SHAG Community Life Foundation. “It really helped people be introduced to the nutrition that we all need.”

Putting the screening-and-referral model down on paper, Puget Sound AHA created a concise document to guide community groups in launching food security screening programs. The team also created a community-specific food resources document — translated into six languages — to meet the needs of area populations.