Implementation of a food insecurity screening and referral program in student-run free clinics in San Diego, California
Food insecurity is associated with many poor health outcomes yet is not routinely addressed in clinical settings. The purpose of this study was to implement a food insecurity screening and referral program in Student-run Free Clinics (SRFC) and to document the prevalence of food insecurity screening in this low-income patient population. All patients seen in three SRFC sites affiliated with one institution in San Diego, California were screened for food insecurity using the 6-item United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Security Survey between January and July 2015 and referred to appropriate resources. The percentage of patients who were food insecure was calculated. The screening rate was 92.5% (430/463 patients), 74.0% (318/430) were food insecure, including 30.7% (132/430) with very low food security. A food insecurity registry and referral tracking system revealed that by January 2016, 201 participants were receiving monthly boxes of food onsite, 66 used an off-site food pantry, and 64 were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It is possible to implement a food insecurity screening and referral program into SRFCs. The prevalence of food insecurity in this population was remarkably high yet remained largely unknown until this program was implemented. Other health care settings, particularly those with underserved patient populations, should consider implementing food insecurity screening and referral programs.
Smith S, Malinak D, Chang J, et al. Implementation of a food insecurity screening and referral program in student-run free clinics in San Diego, California. Prev Med Rep. 2017;5:134-139. PMID: 27990340. DOI: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.12.007.