Hunger Coalition Trains UCSD Medical Residents on Connection between Food Insecurity and Health

The San Diego Hunger Coalition is thrilled to announce a new effort in the fight against hunger in San Diego County as part of our larger CalFresh Outreach Program. In conjunction with UCSD School of Medicine, the Hunger Coalition’s CalFresh Outreach Director Amanda Schultz has created a training program for medical residents at UCSD to screen patients for food insecurity.

The training aims to engage residents in identifying and addressing hunger in their daily patient visits by pairing a basic food security screening tool with a CalFresh referral.

The screening is comprised of two simple yes or no questions:

1) Within the past 12 months, we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more.
2) Within the past 12 months the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.

These questions are asked in the clinical setting. If patients respond yes to either question, they are referred to a qualified CalFresh application assistant who can also connect the patient to food resources.

Between the months of March and May 2015, 60 medical students and residents were trained by the Hunger Coalition.  UCSD has added the food insecurity screening questions to the electronic medical record used at UCSD Student Run Free Clinics at Third Avenue Charitable Organization and the Baker Street Clinic. The Hunger Coalition will be working with UCSD’s School of Medicine to track the impacts on patient access to food as well as health outcomes.

The Hunger Coalition is rolling out this program with other healthcare systems, as well, including Sharp Healthcare and the San Diego County Public Health Department clinics and home visiting nurse programs.