Proejct Abstract

The goal of the first ten months of this research was to understand the knowledge and perspectives on food insecurity among community members, medical providers and staff, and staff at social service agencies in Mesa County. Interviews and a survey with community members, medical providers and staff, and staff of food procurement and social service agencies revealed that there are disparities among these groups in beliefs about the causes of food insecurity, stigma associated with food insecurity, and comfort with information sharing. Furthermore, some medical providers and staff appear to not understand the lived experience of food insecurity and why community members might not answer questions about food insecurity honestly or desire discussion and assistance with meeting food procurement needs.

The next phase of research explores ways to increase the success of screening and referral processes from Mesa county medical providers and elementary schools to social service agencies. The inclusion of schools is important because there are many families who experience food insecurity but are not in regular contact with the health care system. Successful screening and referral processes occur when patients or families honestly report their needs and their desire for help, and referrals lead to procurement of food resources and greater food security. The goal is to develop an intervention that enhances the ability of medical professionals and educators to identify and discuss food insecurity with their clients. The efficacy of the intervention at increasing access to food assistance programs and improving food security will be tested as part of a future project.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Education, School Nutrition Unit

Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Economic Security

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Nutrition Services

Mesa County WIC, SNAP, and Public Health

Research Partners: 

University of Colorado Denver

Quality Health Network