“Diagnosis: Hunger” Tackles Food Security and Health Links in Western U.S.

September 15, 2016

Jennifer Simpson, Project Assistant, Alliance to End Hunger

On September 14, the Alliance to End Hunger and The Root Cause Coalition convened to host the  Western Regional “Diagnosis: Hunger” summit with Loma Linda University Health in Loma Linda, California. This regionally-based summit provided a forum for multi-sector leaders to collaborate in a continued effort to research, advocate, and educate, around addressing hunger as a health issue.

Loma Linda University President, Dr. Richard H. Hart, welcomed over 100 attendees, including speakers and guests from the university, healthcare systems, non-profit organizations, food banks, and the local school district.

Barbara J. Petee, Executive Director, The Root Cause Coalition, facilitates a call to action for summit participants. (Photo credit: Rebecca Middleton, Alliance to End Hunger)

Barbara J. Petee, Executive Director, The Root Cause Coalition, facilitates a call to action for summit participants. (Photo credit: Rebecca Middleton, Alliance to End Hunger)

Randy Oostra, President and Chief Executive Officer, ProMedica; Chairman, The Root Cause Coalition, presented “Healthcare’s Role in Addressing Hunger and the Social Determinants”, which included startling evidence of a community entrenched in food-insecurity, high infant mortality rates, and mental health struggles due to increasing poverty levels.  A solution-based model in clinical efforts, as implemented by ProMedica, includes in-patient screening and ‘food pharmacies’ which have improved the health and overall well-being of patients. Oostra emphasized that healthcare costs related to hunger nationwide are $130.5 billion annually and “community partnerships and engagement are the long-term solution.”  AARP Foundation President, Lisa Marsh Ryerson, raised awareness of the oft-ignored epidemic of senior hunger and reiterated the importance of community-based collaboration.

USDA, Food and Nutrition Services, Administrator Audrey Rowe, a vital and now-veteran contributor to the Diagnosis: Hunger summit, shared research indicating that nutrition programs such as SNAP, WIC, and School Breakfast and Lunch have been successful in remedying hunger in the United States.  Rowe stated, however, there is still work to be done.

Alliance to End Hunger Executive Director, Rebecca Middleton, discussed the importance of a strategic coming-together to affect change and eradicate hunger, as well as the collective impact of organizations such as the Alliance to End Hunger and the Root Cause Coalition.  Middleton challenged the group to raise the ‘hunger question’ to presidential candidates through  Vote to End Hunger, a broad coalition of individuals and organizations committed to ending hunger in the U.S. and around the world by 2030.

Please visit The Root Cause Coalition for more information on “Diagnosis: Hunger” and access to presentation slides.