Clinical Instructor Sarah Downer recently presented CHLPI’s cutting edge food and healthcare advocacy work to over 400 attendees of the Food is Medicine Forum in Bangor, Maine.
The Forum, sponsored by Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, brought together experts in food policy and leaders of innovative, solution-driven nonprofits from across the country to explore ways to address the high rate of food insecurity in Maine. Kristen Miale, of the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, Maine, explained that a high cost of living contributes to making 16% of Mainers food insecure, meaning that they lack access to enough food to live an active, healthy life.
Researchers from the University of Illinois, Children’s Healthwatch, and the CDC spoke about the negative health consequences associated with food insecurity and the importance of linking the healthcare system more closely to community-based resource providers, such as food pantries and meal delivery programs.
CHLPI’s Sarah Downer advocated for the healthcare system to play a more active role in addressing food insecurity in patients with known health conditions and health challenges, describing the significant costs to the healthcare system of food insecurity and pushing for the inclusion of evidence-based food and nutrition interventions that have been shown to improve health outcomes and lower healthcare expenditures. She urged Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems to become a champion of using food as medicine for vulnerable patients and called on the company to introduce a food and nutrition intervention pilot in one of its network hospitals. EMHS, with funding from a CDC Partnership to Improve Community Health (PICH) grant, will continue to actively explore ways that community-based organizations can become stronger partners in supporting patient health.