Food insecurity — lack of access to affordable, nutritious food — can be harmful to the health and well-being of children and adults, resulting in negative outcomes such as poor academic performance, chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and poor oral health, and increased risk of behavioral health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.[i] While Colorado is known as one of the healthier states in the nation, the incidence of food insecurity in the state is significant. To improve access to affordable, healthy food, Hunger Free Colorado is partnering with Kaiser Permanente and other health care organizations to screen patients for food insecurity, as well as connect those who screen positive to food resources. For those identified as food insecure, health care providers connect them to Hunger Free Colorado, which helps to link patients to food resources and federal food assistance programs. Hunger Free Colorado’s mission is to end hunger in Colorado, and health care partners are well positioned to help them achieve this mission. From 2011 to 2016, Hunger Free Colorado provided food assistance to more than 36,000 households.
This profile examines a collaboration involving Hunger Free Colorado, Kaiser Permanente, Children’s Hospital Colorado, and Denver Health that is facilitating screening for food insecurity and connecting at-risk patients to needed food and nutrition services.