San Diego Hunger Coalition Food Security and Healthcare Curriculum

Food insecurity impacts our society on multiple levels; one of the most direct impacts is on our health. Research shows that food insecurity results in poor health outcomes throughout the life cycle and that healthcare settings are an ideal place to connect food insecure patients to resources. The presence of on-site food assistance in clinics and hospitals has been particularly critical to successfully engaging patients in accessing and utilizing resources.

the san diego hunger coalition hosts a panel of experts in hunger relief and healthcare at its 2016 food security and healthcare forum.

the san diego hunger coalition hosts a panel of experts in hunger relief and healthcare at its 2016 food security and healthcare forum.

The Hunger Coalition’s goal is to provide healthcare settings and partnering hunger relief organizations with the resources and tools necessary to effectively identify and address food insecurity in patient populations. 


Integrating Food Security into Healthcare Settings (Curriculum)

The Hunger Coalition has partnered with Sharp Healthcare to design a comprehensive curriculum for healthcare practitioners and administrators interested in learning more about the intersection between food security and healthcare as well as how to take tangible action to identify and address food insecurity in patient populations. 

The curriculum is comprised of four, 20-minute, webinars, covering the following learning objectives:

  1. Defining food insecurity as a social determinant of health and understand its historical context in the United States.

  2. Understanding food insecurity’s link to health outcomes.

  3. Learning evidence-based tools to screen for food insecurity.

  4. Describing different approaches to document food insecurity identified in patients.

  5. Understanding basic skills to have effective, sensitive patient conversations about food insecurity.

  6. Increasing awareness about currently available food resources.

  7. Identifying methods to address food insecurity and connect patients to appropriate food resources.

  8. Learning best practices to measure and evaluate impact of food insecurity screening and referral.

  9. Understanding opportunities to advocate for and build capacity to address food insecurity as a social determinant of health.

The Sharp Continuing Medical Education Portal is open to the general public and is free of charge.  (Users are required to set up a free account.)

Addressing Food Insecurity: Where to Start (handout)

This three-page guide outlines key steps for healthcare organizations interested in exploring, implementing or expanding approaches to identifying and addressing food insecurity with their patients.

How to Have Sensitive Conversations with Patients (handout)

A companion to the curriculum, this one page front and back PDF can also be used as a stand-alone reference for healthcare settings interested in concrete, evidence-based strategies to strengthen communication surrounding food security with patients.

Launching Rx for CalFresh (report)

Written in 2016, this report provides a basic blue print for collaborative models to integrate food insecurity into healthcare settings, including initial findings, best practices and lessons learned from multiple pilots conducted across San Diego hospitals, clinics, and home visiting nurse programs.

Technical Assistance

For additional information about this work or technical assistance to begin or expand a program in your setting, please contact San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh & Advocacy Amanda Schultz Brochu at

Additional Research and information

The following websites provide additional food security and healthcare resources to support new and expanding programs. 

Root Cause Coalition Data Repository

UCSF Nutrition & Obesity Policy Research & Evaluation Network (NOPREN)