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Improving veterans’ health

Local, innovative screening program goes nationwide

June 27, 2018 – It takes a multitude of approaches to solve hunger – from pantries and education to public policy and intervention programs.

Four years ago, Oregon Food Bank piloted a program with health care professionals to screen for food insecurity (the inconsistent access to safe, nutritious food). When a person visited a medical provider, they were asked two easy questions about access to food; if a patient indicated they weren’t eating well, they were guided to food resources before leaving the clinic.

Your financial support has helped expand this program, paving the way for national implementation and getting attention and interest from food banks and healthcare systems across the country. One area of growth right in our backyard is our partnership with Oregon’s Veterans Health System, which is now using this screening at clinics serving homeless veterans, a group at high risk of food insecurity.

A year into the program, they shared their success of screening and connecting patients to food resources with national Veterans Health System leadership. Impressed with the result, the national leadership recently decided to implement the screening for all veterans accessing health care.

The Center for Disease Prevention says that 86% of current health care costs can be attributed to chronic disease, almost all of which is diet related. Poor nutrition can imitate other health conditions or be masked by disease, so screening for food insecurity is vital to creating an effective treatment plan to improve health.

Learn more about health care partnerships at oregonfoodbank.org/screenandintervene.