Virtual Town Halls: Advancing Conversations on Health and Hunger

Marydale Debor
July 22, 2014
by Jessica Hager

By Jessica Hager, Nutrition Coordinator, Feeding America

The United States is facing a public health crisis related to diet-related disease. This crisis affects all segments of the population, but it disproportionately affects those who also struggle with poverty and food insecurity.

Recognizing the dual burden that food insecurity and diet-related disease place on many of our clients, Feeding America is committed to providing our clients not just with enough food, but with nutritious food. We are also leading a conversation about the intersection between hunger, nutrition, and health in an effort to foster greater understanding and promote collaborative solutions.

Feeding America is focused on advancing what we see as two high-opportunity interventions. The first is coordinating and integrating food insecurity and health interventions. The second is increasing demand for healthy foods across settings through the use of incentives, behavioral change research, nutrition education, and increased access and affordability.

To advance the conversation, Feeding America hosted three briefings on the hunger-health connection last Thursday, July 17th – a Virtual Town Hall for stakeholders across the country and two Congressional briefings for House and Senate staff. To help us highlight innovative efforts to integrate solutions to hunger, nutrition, and health, we invited three leaders in the areas of diet-related disease, healthcare and behavioral economics.

Hilary Seligman

Hilary Seligman, a physician with the University of California at San Francisco, drew from her research on diet-related disease in the food insecure population to provide an overview of how hunger, nutrition, and health intersect. In particular, Dr. Seligman discussed how food insecurity can both predispose someone to diet-related illness and make their illness harder to treat.

Marydale Debor, Founder of Fresh Advantage LLC, discussed recent ways that physicians and hospitals are taking food insecurity into consideration as part of their health care operations. For example, some physicians are screening for food insecurity, while others are writing “prescriptions” for food or providing social health referrals.

Finally, David Just out of Cornell University’s Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs talked about ways to promote nutritious choices in a variety of settings. While his past work has focused largely on retail and school cafeteria settings, Dr. Just is beginning to look at how to apply this work in food pantries.

David Just

While there is no silver bullet, increasingly stakeholders across hunger, nutrition, and health are collaborating to jointly tackle these complex issues. To take part in this ongoing conversation, view materials, and listen to the recorded Virtual Town Hall, visit the Healthy Food Bank Hub.

Questions? Please contact nutritionteam@feedingamerica.org

Tags: Fighting Hunger in Action , Nutrition
 

Stay Informed

Get email updates about what we're doing to help solve hunger and how you can help.