AARP Foundation and ProMedica Announce National Root Cause Coalition to Address Hunger as a Public Health Issue

November 24, 2015

Gina Sares, Marketing Communications, ProMedica

AARP Foundation and ProMedica, a Mission-driven, not-for-profit health system in Toledo, Ohio, are pleased to announce a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to address hunger as a health issue and other social determinants of health. The primary goal of the organization, The Root Cause Coalition, is to become a national leading advocate of programs, policies and research to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and health disparities. Members of the coalition will work together to establish a sustainable national framework for addressing these issues, with special emphasis on engaging the healthcare community.

Leadership from Founding Members AARP Foundation and ProMedica announced the formation of The Root Cause Coalition with Congressman Jim McGovern (MA) at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on October 21, 2015.

Leadership from Founding Members AARP Foundation and ProMedica announced the formation of The Root Cause Coalition with Congressman Jim McGovern (MA) at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on October 21, 2015.

A key focus area for the coalition will be building on the research that has explored the cycle of hunger and food insecurity and links to chronic diseases and acute medical conditions. An initial research study on promising strategies and tools for non-traditional partner engagement including the healthcare community is entitled Tackling Hunger to Improve Health in Americans. This study is being commissioned by The Root Cause Coalition with the CDC Foundation, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As founding members of The Root Cause Coalition, ProMedica and AARP Foundation will work collaboratively to engage organizations across the country in identifying what’s already working and in developing and implementing new solutions to improve the health status of individuals and communities.

“Given the scope, depth and duration of the problem of hunger in America—with one in seven households lacking nutritious food—we need new strategies and tactics that will bring sustainable change,” said Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of AARP Foundation. “The Root Cause Coalition aims to provide an innovative approach to combatting hunger, by bringing different industries together, including healthcare providers and food manufacturers, to collaborate for a new solution on treating hunger as a health issue. This is particularly important for the low income 50-plus population AARP Foundation serves.”

“It’s time to completely rethink how our organizations serve the needs of patients and communities and make fundamental changes in the healthcare delivery system,” said Randy Oostra, ProMedica president and CEO. “Hunger is a dire public health concern and healthcare providers are seeing more evidence of it every day. Industry collaboration is more critical than ever before to tackle this crisis and improve health outcomes throughout our nation.”

The coalition will publicly report research findings and maintain a data repository for members with in-depth statistics and information that more clearly links hunger and food insecurity to health issues. At the initial meeting in Washington, DC, on Oct. 21, participants discussed key objectives, in particular how to propel hunger and other social determinants of health as a focal point for action within the healthcare industry.

The coalition is actively recruiting a range of organizations across the U.S. to join the cause. Organizations along the food supply chain, including healthcare providers, consumer good companies and non-profits – as well as industries that manufacture and distribute food – are encouraged to learn more about coalition members.

Collectively, members of the coalition will develop, implement, and share replicable strategies and best practices that can be applied across communities nationwide while targeting high-risk populations. Members will have access to a variety of resources and educational programs along with the opportunity to serve on national advisory committees.

For more information about The Root Cause Coalition, visit