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NYAM Event Focuses on Food Insecurity as it Relates to Health

HANYS recently participated in a day-long New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) event focusing on collaboration to address food as a determinant of health. Partners in Health: Community Food Programs and Hospital Partnerships in New York was a forum for hospitals/health systems and community-based organizations to discuss, share information and experiences, and explore opportunities for partnerships to address food insecurity through community benefit and population health programs.

NYAM President Jo Ivey Boufford, M.D., welcomed more than 100 attendees from around the state and explained how New York State is advancing its “health in all policies” approach. Recognizing that health is impacted by a wide range of determinants, the state is seeking to incorporate health considerations into policies, programs, and initiatives led by non-health agencies to achieve New York’s health goals. Dr. Boufford also underscored the key role of the state’s Prevention Agenda to improve health and reduce disparities.

Panel presenters discussed a range of relevant issues. Several HANYS’ member hospitals and health systems, and other healthcare organizations, shared best practices of working with community partners on food-focused initiatives:

  • Mount Sinai Health System (MSHS): Through a pilot “food prescription” program, MSHS is regularly providing fresh fruit and vegetables year-round at low cost to adults and obese children screened for food insecurity in select MSHS primary care practices.
  • Schenectady County Public Health Services (in partnership with Ellis Medicine): To increase availability and consumption of fruits and vegetables for families served by area food pantries, the initiative improved signage, layout, and food presentation at pantries; provided onsite nutrition education and cooking demonstrations, and included pantries in a community food resources app.
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital, Syracuse: The hospital’s Primary Care Center-West partners with a supermarket and others to improve neighborhood health—especially for diabetes patients—with a prescription program for free fruit and vegetables, combined with diabetes self-management education and in-store nutrition services.
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC): When data showed that under-served cancer patients lacked food they needed for treatment and recovery, MSKCC established several medically-tailored food pantries at MSKCC and safety net hospitals in New York City. Food vouchers, education, and food delivery also contributed to improving food security.
  • Arnot Health: Various collaborative programs throughout a five-county service area address obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. These programs include creating community gardens and portable gardens at schools, medical students/residents attending healthy cooking classes to better advise patients, reducing sodium in hospital meals by 32%, and filling student backpacks with healthy foods for the weekend and breaks. 

Contact: Donna Evans

Published May 26, 2017