Hunger to Health Collaboratory Hosts Statewide Convening Focused on Food Insecurity with Healthcare Stakeholders

Jun 1, 2019
Catherine D'Amato and Rep. Jim McGovern

On Tuesday, July 9, the Hunger to Health Collaboratory (H2HC), in cooperation with Congressman Jim McGovern, UMass Memorial Health Care and UMass Medical School, convened statewide health care leaders for a results-driven conversation examining the economic impact of food insecurity. To continue the conversation, H2HC announced a new grant program to advance partnerships between the health care industry and community-based organizations to create a hunger-free Massachusetts.

H2HC –a cross sector collaboration between diverse stakeholders who commit their expertise and resources to reduce the health consequences of hunger – assembled leaders across medical, public health, health insurance, social service and related industries to connect the dots between hunger and health. The goal is lowering the $2.4 billion reported health-related costs of food insecurity on thousands of patients in the health care system to create a hunger-free Commonwealth.

In his keynote remarks, Congressman McGovern emphasized that “far too often, we, as a country, have disregarded the intersectionality between nutrition, hunger, and healthcare and every day, people suffer the consequences. If we’re going to end hunger, we need a health care system working with us to advance nutrition screening and intervention. Health care communities across Massachusetts will be able to build off these discussions facilitated by H2HC as key steps in the path as we move towards a hunger free state.”

Catherine D’Amato, founder of the Hunger to Health Collaboratory and CEO of The Greater Boston Food Bank, noted: “When we – together – look to address Food as Health and Healthy Food as a key preventative measure in addressing the negative health outcomes of food insecurity, we can make a change in a person’s life. When we can work together with that mindset – the health care and emergency food system as one – we can become hunger free.”

In a series of panels and facilitated discussions, participants discussed three primary topics: whole person care, community of practice, and innovation. The primary objectives were to create policy and financing solutions that promote food security advancement (including screening and coordinated care efforts to reduce the health consequences of hunger) and disseminate these actions until everyone in Massachusetts who interacts with the health care system is food secure.

Dr. Michael Collins, Chancellor of UMass Medical School, commented: “At UMass Medical School, we view food insecurity and hunger as public health challenges that have far-reaching implications for the health and well-being of our communities and our most vulnerable populations. By partnering with key stakeholders, including the leading champion in Congress to eliminate hunger in Massachusetts and across the nation, Representative Jim McGovern, we have the ability—and the responsibility—to do all that we can to contribute to much-needed progress toward ending hunger and food insecurity.”

The whole person care conversation entailed developing strategies for care teams to acknowledge the social determinants of health and foster an understanding of the complex contexts of patients’ lives. Community of practice examined current food insecurity screening and referral practices and how these practices facilitate partnerships across medical and community-based organizations. The innovation discussion focused on identifying creative solutions to achieving food security and health equity.

Today’s forum highlights the importance of working collaboratively to address the undeniable impact hunger has on the health of our patients here in Central Massachusetts,” stated Dr. Eric Dickson, CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care. “Kudos to all the participating organizations and to Congressman McGovern for their attention to this important public health issue.

Additional strategic partners and participating organizations:
Babson College, Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, Boston Medical Center, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, Children’s HealthWatch, Community Servings, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Food Bank of Western Mass, Food Is Medicine State Plan Coalition, Health Resources in Action, Holyoke Health, Mass Medical Society, MA Public Health Association (Alliance for Community Health Integration), McKinsey & Company, Merrimack Valley Food Bank, Museum of Science, Project Bread, Rasky Partners, Stop & Shop, The Greater Boston Food Bank, and Worcester County Food Bank

About The Hunger to Health Collaboratory
The Hunger to Health Collaboratory (H2HC) is a cross sector collaboration between stakeholders who are dedicated to reducing the health consequences of hunger. H2HC builds alliances with leaders who believe that health begins with reliable access nutritious to food. Together, they are contributing their organizational expertise to accelerate the impact of sustainable initiatives by supporting food insecurity screening & intervening efforts, promoting awareness, and convening to further food insecurity as public health priority.