CP28 - Addressing Food Insecurity During the Pandemic
Poster Type: Innovation
Category: Expanding Access to Care and Other Services; Patient and Community Engagement
Issue or Challenge: Bronx Community Health Network’s Community Health Workers (CHWs) help identify and refer clients (in clinical and community settings) with social needs to community resources. Historically, food insecurity has been one of the most urgent and common needs our clients face. 1 in 5 clients screened for social needs are food insecure. Referrals of food insecure clients to food resources increased from 700 (2019) to 1,097 (2020). As the pandemic began and stay at home orders were issued, CBOs struggled to stay open and COVID-19 continued to spread, community members found themselves struggling to meet their basic needs.
Description of Innovation: BCHN health centers systematically screen patients for SDH needs (among which food insecurity) and refer them to CHWs who in turn help address patients’ needs and connect them to resources. At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, food insecurity needs sharply increased as community members lost income, were unable to go out to get food, and food resources became overwhelmed. In response to the growing food need, BCHN launched a food delivery initiative, through our mobile van and partnership with a local food pantry. CHWs and other care team members (i.e. providers and social workers) identified food insecure clients. If those community members met the eligibility criteria (i.e. elderly, diagnosed with underlying condition, or homebound), they were enrolled in the food delivery initiative. Once enrolled, families received at least one food delivery, connected to additional food resources to supplement the amount of food received, were screened for additional needs and connected to resources (i.e. diapers), and were provided assistance with navigating the internet and submitting benefit applications through newly launched online application portals.
Impact or Result: BCHN is committed to eliminating health disparities among underserved communities in the Bronx. Our mission is to increase access to quality health care, conduct culturally sensitive health education sessions, spearhead community health initiatives, and connect community members to resources to address social determinants of health (SDH). Specific to food insecurity, our CHWs assisted over 700 Bronx families with SNAP enrollment, food pantry or hot meal referrals; increasing to 1,097 in 2020. We have delivered food to over 200 unique families, totaling to over 1,000 Bronxites (one delivery per month, per family), serving every zip code in the Bronx. Through our program we screen for and connect community members to social support services such as food resources, benefits applications, help with housing and utilities, employment, and legal services; provides chronic disease management and healthy lifestyle education; connects to health insurance and quality primary care.
Replicating this Innovation: The goal of this initiative is to address the increasing food insecurity of vulnerable populations in the Bronx. BCHN will replicate our existing food delivery initiative by increasing partnerships to other local food pantries throughout the Bronx. The replication of our program will allow us to have a broader reach and increase the volume of food and the number of people we serve. Additionally, we will be able to link all food delivery recipients to other food and social service resources that can help address the root causes of food insecurity (i.e. job placement, job skills, benefits access etc.)
Patrizia Bernard, MPH, Community Health Worker Supervisor, Bronx Community Health Network
Tashi Chodon, MPH, BSN, Director, Programs, Bronx Community Health Network, Inc.
Renee Whiskey, MPH, MCHES, AE-C, Community Health Programs Developer, Bronx Community Health Network, Inc.
Damiris Perez, MPA, Grants and Program Developer, Bronx Community Health Network, Inc.