Nursing in Washington
Food Insecurity

What We Know About Food Insecurity in Washington

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines food insecurity as "the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources" [5]. Factors that potentially cause food insecurities can include neighborhood conditions such as where a person lives, a lack of transportation, income, employment, or segregation of vulnerable groups to less healthy neighborhoods, and less access to grocery stores or healthy food options [6].

Food insecurity can lead to adverse health outcomes, such as chronic disease and negative mental health outcomes [1]. Neighborhood conditions are factors that can affect physical access to food. A neighborhood's infrastructure can impact food prices, the quality and variety of food, and available grocery stores.

Explore Washington Data

As you explore these data, here are some discussion points to consider:

• Hypertension and nutritional factors such as obesity are known contributors to the long-term complication of diabetes. A patient might reveal they would eat better if they had access to healthier foods locally or tell you they cannot get medically appropriate foods such as diabetes or a sodium-restricted diet. Unless discussed, these factors might appear as a patient’s non-adherence to the plan of care.

• Consider the quality of your screening assessment tools for pinpointing the needs of your population. Incorporating the right screening questions into your assessment can better inform your care plan and patient needs. How can patients with food insecurity receive assistance from social services, discharge planning, case management, or a patient navigator to obtain culturally and medically appropriate food?

• Consider the quality of your screening assessment tools for pinpointing the needs of your population. Incorporating the right screening questions into your assessment can better inform your care plan and patient needs. Patients with food insecurity may need immediate access to food and a referral to social services, discharge planning, case management, or a patient navigator to connect to an outside organization. 

Is the impact of food insecurity more significant for individual communities such as people with low incomes, racial, and ethnic groups? What has been the history of this issue in the community? 

What tools or resources are missing in the community you work in or place of practice to assist patients with identifying SDOH concerns?

Explore the Data

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Food Insecurity Indicators

Other Resources

Washington Tracking Network IBL Mapping Tool for health disparities information | An interactive tool to identify health disparities in a community. This tool should not be used to diagnose a health issue or label a community

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings | County health snapshots of economic and social factors

About the Data

The following existing public data sources were used:

• Food insecurity data are from Feeding America.

• Poverty and SNAP data are from the American Community Survey.

References

5. Department of HHS (2020). Healthy People 2020, From, https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-health/interventions-resources 

6. Braveman, P. Nursing 3D: Social Determinants of Health & Health Disparities [Video file]. (2012, September 14). From, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OhUShsAcCM&feature=youtu.be