Pediatricians to Receive Tools and Training to Help Identify and Treat Childhood Food Insecurity in Maryland
Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
Food Research & Action Center
BALTIMORE, July 6, 2021 — Today, the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that it is expanding an initiative to help pediatricians address food insecurity among Maryland’s children. The program, a partnership with the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) and Amerigroup Foundation, is built around the Screen and Intervene: A Toolkit for Pediatricians to Address Food Insecurity.
“When children face food insecurity, it can result in serious consequences for their development and overall health and well-being. Pediatricians play a critical role in addressing food insecurity and through education and training, our partnership will play a critical role in advocating for programs and policies that will work to end childhood food insecurity,” said Rinku Mehra, MD, Medical Director, Amerigroup Maryland Health Plan.
“The medical community is a critical partner in accelerating efforts to address food insecurity through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and other federal nutrition programs,” said Michael J. Wilson, Director, Maryland Hunger Solutions.
Amerigroup Foundation is funding the project as part of its ongoing efforts to address food insecurity across the country.
The toolkit aims to support pediatricians’ efforts to screen for food insecurity and connect eligible families to proven federal nutrition programs, including SNAP; WIC; Pandemic EBT (P-EBT); the Child and Adult Care Food Program; school breakfast and lunch; and afterschool and summer meals. Research shows federal nutrition programs not only reduce food insecurity, but also improve the health, nutrition, and well-being of children.
It is not always obvious, even to a skilled health care provider, that a patient may be struggling with food insecurity, as the condition often is not visible. Food insecurity can coexist with obesity or underweight, and a practice team should be aware that someone may be simultaneously struggling with weight issues, either underweight or overweight, and food insecurity. That’s why the toolkit recommends pediatricians screen their patients using the Hunger Vital Sign™, a simple tool to better identify children living in households struggling with food insecurity with the following prompts:
- “Within the past 12 months, we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more.”
- “Within the past 12 months, the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.”
Along with the two-question tool, the toolkit provides specific information so that pediatricians can:
- screen patients for food insecurity,
- sensitively address the topic,
- connect patients and their families to federal nutrition programs and community resources, and
- advocate for greater food security and improved overall health of children and their families.
“Even before COVID-19, millions of children across the country lived in households that struggled to put food on the table, and now the pandemic has only deepened that crisis, especially for Black, Latinx, and Native American families,” said Luis Guardia, president of FRAC. “As frontline health workers, pediatricians play a key role in ensuring children are getting the nutrition they need for their health, learning, and development.
To see what other pediatricians are saying about the toolkit and the importance of screening and intervening for food insecurity, download the toolkit.
About the Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
The Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (MDAAP) advocates for Maryland’s children and adolescents and their healthcare needs. The MDAAP initiates and supports programs that respond to the needs of children and adolescents and their healthcare providers through collaborative and creative programming with local and state-wide public, private, and governmental organizations. To learn more about the MDAAP, please visit https://www.mdaap.org/ and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
About the Food Research & Action Center
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.
About the Amerigroup Foundation
The Amerigroup Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Amerigroup, a wholly owned subsidiary of Anthem, Inc. Together, with local, regional and national organizations, the Amerigroup Foundation commitment to improving lives and communities. Through strategic partnerships and programs, the Foundation addresses the social drivers that will help create a healthier generation of Americans in communities that the company serves. Amerigroup Foundation funding is focused on critical initiatives working to address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative with five areas of focus: Healthy Heart, Cancer Prevention, Healthy Maternal Practices, Type 2 Diabetes Prevention, and Healthy Active Lifestyle. These disease states and medical conditions include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Amerigroup Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.