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live / 2016

Food As Health Care: A Project to Engage Doctors in Providing Reliable Access to Healthy Food

Food As Health Care: A Project to Engage Doctors in Providing Reliable Access to Healthy Food

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Doctors for America

We will leverage health care providers embedded in our community to help identify those who do not have reliable access to healthy food, educate the community, and connect people with food resources.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

We are an organization of over 18,000 doctors and medical students in all 50 states who are dedicated to improving the health of our communities. Our campaigns rely on individual members leveraging the health care organizations where they work and deliver care in collaboration to provide the greatest impact possible. In Los Angeles, we have active members who work within Kaiser Permanente, UCLA, the LA County DHS hospitals and clinics as well as numerous other organizations who will collaborate.

Please describe your project proposal.

We will leverage physicians embedded in our community to help identify those who do not have reliable access to healthy food, educate patients on the importance of healthy eating, and connect people with food resources. Our project will include development of materials for the use of educating physicians and their patients on food insecurity and available food resources in our community. We will organize physicians through educational webinars, social media campaigns, and grassroots organizing.

Which of the live metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Access to healthy food
  • Healthcare access
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Obesity
  • Resilient communities
  • Residents receiving coordinated healthcare services
  • Homelessness
  • Mental illness

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Gateway Cities
  • Antelope Valley
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to live?

Our campaign provides a unique approach to improving reliable access to healthy food. We firmly believe that physician-patient interactions provide a unique opportunity to identify though who do no have reliable access to healthy food, educate these patients and our community, and connect them with the numerous excellent resources already available in Los Angeles.

Many Los Angelenos suffer from food insecurity, but are unaware of the resources that are available to help them. Often this is a result of language barriers, cultural barriers, and stigma/ostracization of homeless, mentally ill, and poor who are in need in our community. Physicians are uniquely positioned as trusted community members, who often have access to populations in need who otherwise are difficult to engage. For example, in the emergency departments of Los Angeles, physicians often have the opportunity interact with those suffering from homelessness, drug addiction, and mental illness who are otherwise not connected with services organizations and case managers. These points of contact create a unique opportunity to identify those suffering from food insecurity, provide education, and connect these patients with resources to address their needs. These points of contact can be multiplied as those screened, educated and connected share their experiences with others in inaccessible communities in need.

Our approach to this campaign has 2 main components:

1) Education - This entails the development of resources to educate physicians on the importance of screening for food insecurity, how they can incorporate this into their practices, and what to do when they determine a patient does not have reliable access to healthy food. This will involve the creation of a web page, handouts to be given to physicians and patients, and an educational seminar/webinar, which can be attended in real time, or viewed as a recording posted to our website.

2) Community engagement - We will create a campaign for health care providers in LA to screen their patients for food insecurity, educate them, and connect them with resources. This will increase health care provider awareness of the importance of this issue and encourage providers to incorporate innovative methods of addressing these issues in the future. We will provide physicians with ‘prescription for food’ handouts for use in their practice, including the locations of nearby food banks as well as instructions on how to apply for WIC, SNAP, and other resources. The campaign would include a social media component where physicians report back their experience and raise awareness of this issue in our community and among other others. We will additionally have a media outreach component, encouraging physicians to submit op eds to local newspapers, blogs and other media sources to raise awareness of this issue. This will create community interest in investing further in food resource development in the future.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Here are metrics we will use to evaluate the different campaign components:

1) Physician education

  • number who attend educational seminar/webinar in real time - Goal: >100
  • pre- and post- tests of seminar/webinar to determine impact on knowledge of attendees: Goal: improvement in knowledge
  • number who access the food as health care website and view educational resources - Goal: >1000
  • subjective feedback on quality of resources provided - Goal: majority favorable feedback

2) Community engagement

  • number of health care providers who report screening patients for food insecurity - Goal: >100 in Los Angeles
  • number of patients reported to have been screened by health care providers - Goal: >2,000 in Los Angeles
  • social media impressions of tweets/facebook posts shared by campaign participants - Goal >10,000
  • number of op eds published on the issue by participants - Goal: 2
  • solicited feedback from community food resources on whether they feel the campaign is effective in referring those in need to access their help - Goal: majority favorable feedback

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research