Come to the Table Summit Leads Hunger Discussion in Albuquerque

June 19, 2015

Gina Sares, Communications Specialist, ProMedica

Summit participants, including Randy Oostra (left) and Lee Hammerling, MD, (second from left) discuss the tie between hunger and obesity, stigmas of food insecurity and the role of healthcare during the “meeting in a box” group activity. (Courtesy: ProMedica)

Summit participants, including Randy Oostra (left) and Lee Hammerling, MD, (second from left) discuss the tie between hunger and obesity, stigmas of food insecurity and the role of healthcare during the “meeting in a box” group activity. (Courtesy: ProMedica)

On June 2, nearly 80 people gathered at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to discuss the topic of hunger as a health issue. Presented by ProMedica, the Alliance to End Hunger, and Presbyterian Healthcare Services, based in Albuquerque, the Come to the Table event featured perspectives from an array of experts, as well as collaboration among healthcare leaders, community organizations, and government representatives.

Audrey Rowe, Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, described, in her keynote address, the cost of hunger throughout our nation — the numerous lives impacted as well as the estimated $130.5 billion in healthcare costs due to illness relating to food insecurity.

Leaders from the healthcare industry, including ProMedica CEO and President Randy Oostra and Presbyterian Healthcare Services CEO and President Jim Hinton, spoke of the changing role of health care and the need to address social determinants of health. Hinton explained that only 20% of health is determined by clinical care; social and economic factors, healthy behaviors and physical environment all have a large impact on a person’s health.

Administrator Audrey Rowe on why she “came to the table” for hunger: “I am here to further collaboration of organization advocacy to end childhood hunger in U.S.” (Courtesy: ProMedica)

Administrator Audrey Rowe on why she “came to the table” for hunger: “I am here to further collaboration of organization advocacy to end childhood hunger in U.S.” (Courtesy: ProMedica)

Oostra stressed the need to improve health and well-being outside of what he called “the four walls” of health care, focusing instead on healthy individuals and healthy communities, driven by clinical excellence, education, public and private partnerships, economic development and address social determinants of health.

A panel, including representatives from Farm to Table, New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association, La Cosecha CSA and MoGro (a mobile grocery), discussed regional issues related to farming, food programs, and the affordability of fresh, locally-produced foods. Throughout the day, summit participants were encouraged to collaborate through a Q&A session, a networking lunch and a “meeting in a box” exercise designed to help facilitate conversation of hunger and health in their own communities. Participants were also asked to share personal notes of why they came to the table.

Tony Hall, Alliance to End Hunger, speaks at the Come to the Table Summit. (Courtesy: ProMedica).

Tony Hall, Alliance to End Hunger, speaks at the Come to the Table Summit. (Courtesy: ProMedica).

Tony Hall, Executive Director Emeritus of the Alliance to End Hunger, spoke of his experiences as a former Congressman and former Ambassador to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome. He recalled meeting Mother Teresa, who told him that change begins by helping those around you. He summed up the purpose of the summit by reiterating health care’s powerful collective voice across America and the opportunity it has to change minds in our communities through education on the importance of addressing hunger.

For more information about Come to the Table summits, including presentations from the Albuquerque summit, please visit www.promedica.org/cometothetablesummit.