Food Security Through CalFresh

Alameda Health Consortium (AHC) partnered with the Alameda County Social Services Agency (ACSSA), the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), and our member health centers to implement a 2017 CalFresh Awareness Month Campaign – “Connecting Children to CalFresh.” The campaign aims to address hunger and food insecurity by promoting the CalFresh Program to families with children. Partners hosted a series of outreach events to #KnockoutHunger! At Consortium health centers across the county patients received enrollment assistance to help stretch their food dollars with CalFresh benefits.

Wrapping up a month of food security awareness, on Wednesday, May 31, health center providers and staff took a hard look at how hunger affects health and what to do about it.   Community Health Center Network (CHCN) and AHC offered resources and space for discussion through a timely continuing medical education program entitled Food Insecurity: What Providers Should Know.  Expert speakers addressed how to screen patients for food insecurity, better manage health & medical conditions for food insecure patients, and coordinate referrals to local food resources.

Speakers included UCSF Assistant Clinical Professor Dr. Rita Nguyen, AHC Eligibility and Enrollment Director, Njeri McGee-Tyner, and Alameda County Community Food Bank Research Manager, Kate Cheyne.

In screening patients for “Hunger as a Vital Sign,” providers were encouraged to ask two core questions:

“Within the past 12 months, did you:
-Worry whether food would run out before you got money to buy more?
-Believe the food I bought just didn’t last and I didn’t have money to get more.”

The CME event wrapped up CalFresh Awareness Month and ties into several Consortium-wide efforts to address the Social Determinants of Health.