New Research Helps Healthcare Providers Connect Patients with Food Assistance
San Diego Hunger Coalition presents best practices to screen for hunger at the doctor’s office

SAN DIEGO, November 15, 2016 — With San Diego Hunger Coalition’s new Rx for CalFresh report, healthcare professionals in San Diego County and beyond are better equipped to identify patients struggling with hunger and connect them with the food assistance they need.

One in six people in San Diego County has limited or uncertain access to enough nutrition. Food insecurity poses a serious threat to health - and practitioners are beginning to recognize the important role that access to food plays in health outcomes. Unfortunately, medical professionals are often limited in their ability to identify and address food insecurity among patients.

The Rx for CalFresh report is a result of work by San Diego Hunger Coalition and its partners to train practitioners and pilot models for identifying and addressing food insecurity among patients in five distinct healthcare settings in San Diego County. The research focuses on connecting patients with assistance through CalFresh, a monthly supplement to a household’s food budget and one of the most effective anti-hunger programs available. The Hunger Coalition’s CalFresh outreach director, Amanda Schultz Brochu, is the principal author of the report.

“This promising research shows that, once we make practitioners aware of the important connection between food security and health, many are interested in screening for and addressing food insecurity,” said Anahid Brakke, executive director of San Diego Hunger Coalition and editor of the Rx for CalFresh report. “Integrating screenings and providing onsite support for patients to access food resources is not only an effective plan to fight hunger – it's a goal we can achieve.”

The report’s recommended models and best practices are based on multiple pilot programs based in San Diego. Those pilot programs where patients received CalFresh application assistance onsite had the highest rates of success.  The incorporation of food security screening and referral into electronic medical records was also identified as a best practice. 

“It is important for health care providers to screen for food insecurity and make appropriate referrals, particularly in low-income patient populations,” said doctor Sunny Smith of UCSD School of Medicine. “This is a topic not traditionally addressed in health care, yet it significantly impacts our patients and their health.  We had no idea what a big issue this was until we started asking about it routinely.”

The report aims to further engage and inspire organizations considering or interested in learning more about opportunities to integrate food security into healthcare settings. On December 14th, San Diego Hunger Coalition will bring together leaders in the healthcare and anti-hunger fields to discuss the report’s findings and discuss additional opportunities for collaboration.

To view the full report, please click here


SAN DIEGO HUNGER COALITION leads coordinated action to end hunger in San Diego County supported by research, education and advocacy. San Diego Hunger Coalition’s vision is that everyone in San Diego County has enough food for an active, healthy life. To learn more, please visit