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MNAAP Newsletter

Food Insecurity Screening and Referrals

NeilBratneyNeil Bratney, MD, FAAP

Nearly 1 in 10 Minnesotans are food insecure; that’s a half-a-million Minnesotans who don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. While poverty is a common contributing factor, transportation and geographic factors may also affect families without cars or without a grocery store nearby. Many families are just above the threshold for qualifying for assistance programs and still cannot afford the nutritious food important for their families.
Screening

Screening for food insecurity can be easy, but may require small changes to your office workflow. Screening should be completed at every well child exam, and whenever concerns exist. Screening can be accomplished using a standard, validated, two-question screening tool, known as the Hunger Vital Sign.

  • 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.

A patient or caregiver can respond “Often true,” “Sometimes true,” “Never true,” or “Don’t know / Refused.” An “Often true” or “Sometimes true” response is considered a positive screen and should prompt advice and referral.

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