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Lessons for DC: Food is Medicine
Notes from AHPC 2016 from Lori Townsend, ONT Program Director
I like FRAC. FRAC (Food Research and Action Center) works to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger in the US, and I’ve found them a source of valuable information about hunger-related issues. (For a great read, see FRAC’s publication Eight Essential Strategies to End Hunger in America at http://frac.org/pdf/plan-to-end-hunger-in-america.pdf.) When offered the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC to attend FRAC’s 2016 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, I jumped at the chance!
And, I wasn’t disappointed - two and a half days chock-full of seminars addressing a wide variety of issues affecting our country’s safety net for people who are food insecure; the opportunity to learn from experts in our field, including Kathryn Edin, co-author of Two Dollars a Day, (another must read!); and meetings with the staff of each of our U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey… and a surprise visit with Congressman Seth Moulton!
Sounds like enough excitement for one conference, but, it was the session I attended called Food is Medicine – Improving Health through Healthcare Partnerships that provided me with resources that I hope will prove invaluable to future programs at Our Neighbors’ Table.
Health care providers are becoming increasingly aware that an important piece of improving patients’ health is addressing food insecurity, and many physicians and hospitals around the country have taken a preventive approach by actively screening for food insecurity, and offering services to address them. Building partnerships between healthcare providers and community service organizations like Our Neighbors’ Table is a model that has seen a great deal of success across the country.
During this session, I had the opportunity to meet with Lynn Knox, who has implemented such a program at the Oregon Food Bank. She generously shared materials that should be very helpful to ONT, should we decide to implement a Healthcare partnership model here in our service region. As we look for creative ways to reach people in our service area, these tools and relationships will provide a strong foundation for effective programs.
So, all in all, this trip to Washington far exceeded any expectations that I could have hoped for at the outset. I felt assured by our Senators’ and Representative’s commitment to helping our most vulnerable citizens. And I look forward to putting to use the resources I picked up from colleagues across the country.
Do you work for a local doctor’s office? Are interested in helping us implement a Healthcare partnership model in our area? If so, please contact Lori Townsend.
Check out this brief video from Feeding America on the relationship between health and food insecurity.
An interview with Betty...