Earlier this week NACHC issued a press release about our initiative to highlight Community Health Centers that are focused on fighting food insecurity in their local communities. Many may not be aware that 14 percent of people in the United States (48 million) face food insecurity. What does that mean exactly? It means they struggle to find sufficient quantities of nutritious and affordable food. There are a number of factors involved with food insecurity — limited household budgets to purchase healthy foods, a scarcity of places that offer healthy foods or limited access to nutritional programs. Because food insecurity is linked to health problems, health centers have focused on this issue since they launched their mission over 50 years ago.
As problem solvers, the dedicated staff who work at health centers follow the model of Dr. H. Jack Geiger, one of the co-founders of the Community Health Center Movement, who understood that the most effective means to fight illness is to address the root causes of it. Dr. Geiger famously wrote prescriptions for groceries when he started one of the first health centers in rural Mississippi, explaining, “The last time I looked in the book for a specific therapy for malnutrition, it was food.”
So that brings us to the problem solvers of today who are finding innovative solutions to food insecurity. Earlier this year, we spoke with representatives from three health centers fighting food insecurity in their communities. The health centers were identified through a special project showcasing health centers’ efforts to combat food insecurity sponsored through the Medtronic Foundation.
In this podcast, the first of our three-part series on food insecurity, NACHC spoke with Alexandra Avedisian, Community Health Program Manager at Brockton Neighborhood Health Center in Brockton, Massachusetts, where the health center and Vicente’s Tropical Supermarket teamed to open a new site on an abandoned property that had been vacant for 25 years. The initial effort became a springboard for multiple programs addressing food insecurity. Listen below.