Disclaimer: Moving Health Care Upstream is a collaborative effort originally co-led by Nemours Children’s Health and the Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities at the University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Nemours, UCLA or the Moving Health Care Upstream initiative.
Today Nemours Children’s Health’s Executive Vice President, Dr. Kara Odom Walker (also a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians) and Daniella Gratale, Director of the Office of Child Health Policy and Advocacy, participated in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health (the Conference) —more than 50 years after the last conference on this topic. In collaboration with the Conference, Nemours Children’s made a commitment to help address hunger and improve nutrition and health for our nation’s children.
Nemours Children’s has a rich history of advocating for and implementing nutrition programs and policies. Like many social determinants of health (SDOH), having or lacking access to nutritious food can significantly impact overall health and well-being. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of hunger and food insecurity because they are rapidly growing and developing. Healthy kids make healthy learners at school, so it is important to ensure that children and families have access to nutritious foods.
- The USDA reports that in 2020, 10.5% of households were food insecure for at least some time during the year.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that fewer than 1 out of 10 adolescents and adults eat enough fruits or vegetables and that 20% of young people and 42% of adults have obesity.
- The Government Accountability Office reports that in 2018, over half of U.S. deaths were caused by chronic diseases which are largely preventable with a healthy diet and other behaviors such as exercise.
Unfortunately, hunger and diet-related diseases disproportionately affect people living in low-income communities as well as people of some racial and ethnic backgrounds. Part of the cause for these disparities is a lack of access to convenient places that have affordable, nutritious food.
To help do our part in addressing hunger, nutrition and health, Nemours Children’s made the following public commitment. Our commitment identifies how we will expand access to educational tools to reduce food insecurity and health disparities as well and expand programs in our service areas. Specifically, we will:
- Publish an SDOH Implementation Guide to help other health systems identify and address SDOH, such as food insecurity, and utilize SDOH data to enhance primary prevention efforts and policy work.
- Scale our existing SDOH screening tool to new Nemours specialty care practices in Delaware and to additional Nemours primary care practices in Florida.
- Leverage the Nemours KidsHealth.org platform to develop and publish at least 10 new articles in English and Spanish and share 10 videos with health and nutrition-related content.
- Expand the Nemours Cares Closets to more Nemours primary care locations to provide food and other items to families in need, and work with community partners to expand their backpack programs, which provide children access to nutritious meals outside of school hours.
Additionally, as part on our ongoing efforts to support healthy habits early on, Nemours Children’s will launch a campaign to promote our Wellness Workbook. This is a free web-based assessment tool that helps early care and education providers, families, and community partners collaborate to raise healthy children. We will also promote our Better Together Family Café Toolkit, which provides resources to support engagement with families about nurturing their children’s healthy growth and development.
We are excited to expand our work to help create the healthiest generations of children. Stay tuned for more from Nemours Children’s on our commitment and other related activities!