With World Food Day on October 16th, communities across the globe are bringing awareness to the topic of food security. As we better understand how food security functions as a SDoH, we can look to potential solutions for improving access to quality nutrition.
WORLD FOOD DAY
October 16 is World Food Day, which highlights the importance of promoting solutions for food insecurity around the world1. In recent news, the World Food Programme (WFP) won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize2 for its critical work in combating hunger and food insecurity, providing an excellent example of how organizations around the world should follow. As the discussion focuses on these issues, how are we addressing hunger and food insecurity in our own communities?
FOOD INSECURITY AS A SDoH
Food insecurity occurs when people do not have a steady supply of food available to them. Food security is an important Social Determinant of Health (SDoH)—if people lack access to food, their health will suffer. SDoH consist of critical social factors that have a significant impact on population health, including economic stability, education, healthcare, environment, and social context 3 . Food insecurity is linked closely to economic stability, because when the economy is struggling—as is the case in many countries in the world right now—a surge of individuals is left without means of maintaining food security.
Food insecurity can be brought on by several factors, including but not limited to lack of transportation, low income and unemployment, and disability. Additionally, groups that are marginalized on the basis of race or ethnicity often disproportionately experience negative economic outcomes, and in economic downturns like the one brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, these already vulnerable groups are hit even harder and often experience food insecurity at higher rates than the larger population.
Some of these factors can be solved with social service programs, including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), which provide food for individuals and families who are food insecure. Other programs may target underlying factors contributing to food insecurity or seek to deliver food to individuals without access to adequate transportation.
COVID-19 HEIGHTENING FOOD INSECURITY
This year has been unique due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. SDoH factors are seeing strong negative trends with the heightened food insecurity in communities across the United States, where in 2020, the number of people projected to be food-insecure is 54.3 million, a 7.2 million (about 3%) increase over the previous year4 . It has never been more important to focus efforts on addressing this issue before it spirals even further out of control.
POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS TO FOOD INSECURITY
Project Angel Heart (PAH), a program that provides meals for patients with life-threatening diseases, partnered in March with Eccovia to incorporate ClientTrack as a food delivery solution for their service. ClientTrack is an advanced case management platform that gives social services organizations the tools they need to track, manage, and report on vulnerable populations to ultimately ensure that each client is given access to all the resources they need to live healthier lives and work towards self-sufficiency.
PAH has used ClientTrack to optimize routes for their drivers, which has saved their team many hours per week, allowing them to strategically reinvest the recovered time and resources5 . The recent partnership with PAH has been a wonderful step for Eccovia to aid in the efforts against food insecurity, and going forward, Eccovia hopes to make more connections with wonderful programs like PAH to win the fight against food insecurity in the world. Case management platforms like ClientTrack can be an important part of the solution to more effectively combat food insecurity.