Social determinants of health, such as access to healthy foods, play an important role in disease prevention, health status and health outcomes. Food insecurity is known to impact health status, including putting individuals at greater risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease. Food insecure individuals with a diet-sensitive chronic disease experience more difficulties managing their health, leading to more health complications, emergency room usage, hospital stays, and readmissions, and ultimately higher health care costs. Food insecure patients have an average of $1,863 in extra health care expenditures per year.
In an effort to reduce food insecurity and increase overall health, the Food Bank is partnering with health care agencies to address food insecurity and other social needs as “upstream” interventions through the development of onsite pantries at hospitals and clinics that distribute meal packages tailored to clients’ chronic diseases. This food is distributed in conjunction with existing nutrition education and counselling.