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King County Food Insecurity Screening Community of Practice

King County Food Insecurity
Screening Community of Practice



Conducting Food Insecurity Screening - A NEW Online Training Module

To enroll, use the form below. We will respond to your request within 48 hours.

  • The training is free
  • It takes about one hour to complete
  • Virtual, facilitated group training is available, upon request

Learn:

  • How to implement food insecurity screenings in your clinic or community
  • How to conduct a client-led food insecurity screening
  • How to connect clients that screen positive with food resources

Food insecurity training

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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

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.


Summary of screening and connection pathways in King County (PDF)


See detailed PDF summaries of our program spotlights below:

Tools and resources

Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN)

Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN)

Evidence library, screening tools, and other resources for social needs screening in clinical settings

Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN)

WithinReach Resource Finder

Multi-language hotline and web-based resource for finding programs and services in Washington state, based on the patient's address.

Hunger Vital Signs questionnaires

Hunger Vital Sign™

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:

Worried about enough food?

Use this poster in your clinic or health care setting to let clients know that they can ask their provider about food resources. Available in the following languages:

Worried about enough food? We can help.