Our healthcare professional partners at Cambridge Health Alliance: Lisa Brukilacchio, director of Somerville Community Health Agenda, Dr. Amy Smith, and Nawang Tsomo
Addressing hunger for what it is — a public health issue
Addressing hunger for what it is—a public health issue
Research has shown hunger affects health in profound ways. People experiencing food insecurity will get sick more often, are more likely to be hospitalized, and have higher rates of obesity, depression, and chronic illness. At every age, hunger will take a toll on physical and mental health, but for children the consequences are particularly severe.
Project Bread teams up with clinicians at community health centers across the state to diagnose hunger and prescribe solutions.
When a certain expertise is needed, doctors will refer their patient to see a specialist. For food insecurity, that specialist is Project Bread:
- Food Insecurity Screenings & Referrals. Health centers are a safe and non-stigmatizing environment. When a doctor asks about hunger, it’s a matter of health and not a question of income. By partnering with health centers to screen their patients for food-insecurity, we can provide food-assistance to those who may not otherwise seek it. And Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline counselors follow up with every patient to ensure they get connected to the resources and program they need.
- SNAP Enrollment Coordinators. SNAP provides a low-income household with reliable access to nutritious food. But for many, the application can be a difficult process. Project Bread’s SNAP Enrollment Coordinators work directly in community health centers to meet with food-insecure families and individuals, and provide the information, assistance, and advocacy they need to enroll in the program.
- Emergency Food Prescriptions. SNAP applications can take time to process, but for many, they need help right away. Project Bread provides clinicians with food vouchers to give to their patients when it is clear they need to be able to put food on the table that night.
- Subsidized CSA Shares. If you are living in a food desert, even when you have means to purchase healthy food, it’s nowhere to be found. But with CSA shares, farm fresh produce is delivered weekly right to the health center. Project Bread subsidizes the cost of a patients CSA share to give them reliable access to produce that would otherwise be difficult to afford or find.
Impact of our work: 2017
- 26 Community Health Center partners
- 1,920 emergency food prescriptions provided
- 646 follow-ups made to patients by Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline
- 1,100 subsidized CSA shares
For information on how hospitals can help those in need, download the "Hunger in the Community: Ways Hospitals Can Help" hospital handbook.