King County Food Insecurity
Screening Community of Practice
Who we are
The King County Food Insecurity Screening Community of Practice exists to unite partners in order to eliminate food insecurity and improve health.
Food Insecurity Screening Community of Practice
The Food Insecurity Screening Community of Practice is a group of healthcare providers and its purpose is to end hunger by improving and developing interventions in healthcare facilities to connect patients to food resources.
The Community of Practice includes a cohort of patients who have experience with food insecurity who will help evaluate how the food resources and services are working for them.
- Develop a universal screening tool and process – including translation, customizable to patient needs, staffing and electronic health records.
- Create a comfortable environment - develop education language for patients about and create an educational poster.
- Strengthen connections to food resources – enhance healthcare staff knowledge and skills to connect patients to food resources.
- Develop a training to educate healthcare staff – on universal screening and connection to food resources.
- Share this work – via social media, end report, and meetings with decision makers. Collect and share client stories.
- American Heart Association Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
- Country Doctor Community Health Centers
- Harborview Medical Center
- International Community Health Services
- Kaiser Permanente
- Multicare Health System
- Odessa Brown Children's Clinic
- Public Health — Seattle & King County
- SeaMar Community Health Centers
- Seattle Children's Hospital
- Veteran's Affairs Hospital
Health systems across King County connect patients to national, local, and community level food resources. In 2018, Public Health — Seattle & King County interviewed representatives from 10 healthcare systems to find out more about their food insecurity screening and referral processes, the barriers they have encountered thus far, and what qualities they would like to see in a screening tool.
Food insecurity screening
Most of the healthcare systems that we interviewed screened all patients using Hunger Vital Sign plus additional questions developed internally. However, interviewees often reported that their screening process lacked consistency. Ideal qualities for a screening tool included: short length, easy to use and customize, a format that facilitated data sharing, and questions that took a broad/holistic approach to food insecurity.
Documenting food insecurity
Almost all of the health systems interviewed reported that at least some food insecurity data is documented, either in electronic health records or paper forms. About half of the interviewees reported using multiple forms of documentation.
Staffing for screening and referrals
The staff person who performed screening varied, with about half of the sites reporting that multiple staff positions (primarily registered dietitians, social workers, or community resource specialists) or the patients themselves performed the screening. Lack of time or designated staffing was the most frequently reported barrier to screening and referrals.
See detailed PDF summaries of our program spotlights below:
- Onsite pop-up food bank and produce stand at Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center
- Food insecurity screening and produce prescription programs at Harborview Medical Center
- Patient-administered screening and connections to multiple resources at Odessa Brown Children's Clinic
- Partnership between SeaMar and Food Lifeline to bring fresh produce to patients with diabetes
- Self-screening process during intake at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Rainier Valley
- Roll out of a national directive for food insecurity screening at the Veteran's Administration
Tools and resources
Evidence library, screening tools, and other resources for social needs screening in clinical settings
Multi-language hotline and web-based resource for finding programs and services in Washington state, based on the patient's address.
The Hunger Vital Sign identifies households as being at-risk for food insecurity if they answer that either or both two statements is ‘often true’ or ‘sometimes true’ (vs. ‘never true’). Download the questionnaires in the following languages: