Massachusetts Medical Society: Screening Tools for Food Insecurity and Social Determinants

Screening Tools for Food Insecurity and Social Determinants

To learn more about how to easily screen for food insecurity in your clinical setting, visit the website of Children’s HealthWatch based out of Boston Medical Center: http://childrenshealthwatch.org

One example of a food insecurity screening tool is the Hunger Vital SignTM, validated by a team of researchers. Click on the following link to read about this screening tool: http://childrenshealthwatch.org/public-policy/hunger-vital-sign/

If you are interested in research being done around the nation on food insecurity, UCSF SIREN (Social Interventions Research & Evaluation Network) is compiling tools and resources related to social determinants of health. They have links to many types of screening tools for food insecurity and for other social determinants of health.

Please visit: https://sirenetwork.ucsf.edu/tools-resources/screening-tools


Food Pantries & Meal Programs:

There are 3 Food Banks affiliated with Feeding America in the state of Massachusetts. Visit their websites to connect to local resources such as food pantries and meal programs. Enter a zip code in their search engine to find the most convenient hunger-relief agency in your community. Some Food Banks also offer help to families in applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The Greater Boston Food Bank: https://www.gbfb.org/need-food

Worcester County Food Bank: https://foodbank.org

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts: https://www.foodbankwma.org


Technology & Services That Connect People to Resources:

HelpSteps: Visit www.helpsteps.com or download their free App to find convenient hunger-relief agencies as well as other needed resources in your community.

Mass 211: Call 2-1-1 to speak to a provider that can help connect you to needed services in your area.

Project Bread: Call their Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 or visit their webpage: http://www.projectbread.org/get-help/


Food Is Medicine State Plan:

The Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School and Community Servings, a Boston-based not-for-profit food and nutrition program, are in the process of developing a Food Is Medicine State Plan. Click the following link to learn more about this massive undertaking: https://www.chlpi.org/massachusetts-food-medicine-state-plan/

Food is Medicine describes the provision of nutritious food tailored to the medical needs of an individual who lives with one or more health conditions likely to be affected by diet, such as diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and HIV.  In a small but growing number of cases in Massachusetts and across the country, Food is Medicine interventions are becoming integrated into holistic, patient-centered models of care for individuals with complex chronic illnesses. 

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