October marked the formal announcement of the Root Cause Coalition, a joint venture between ProMedica and the AARP Foundation that aims to become a national leading advocate of programs, policies, and research to eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and health disparities. Led by ProMedica CEO Randy Oostra, the coalition’s overall goal is addressing hunger as a public health issue. A key focus will be building on research that links hunger and food insecurity with both chronic disease and acute medical conditions.
Fresh Advantage is pleased to see large, influential organizations like AARP and ProMedica tackling the serious problems of hunger and healthy food access, which are a core part of our work. Because involvement at the CEO level is crucial to effecting genuine change, we are also encouraged by Mr. Oostra’s leadership as evidence that food justice is penetrating the health care paradigm.
Fresh Advantage consultant Vanessa Lamers, who attended the kickoff of the Root Cause Coalition at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, reports the event began with a strong call to action from Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), who drew connections between hunger and obesity. Among the coalition’s early goals are universal patient screening for food insecurity by 2025, research partnerships with the Centers for Disease Control, best practices toolkit development, and a convening of health care leaders and prominent hunger relief organizations for a White House Summit.
To accomplish their wide-ranging goals, coalition members will:
- Engage in the ongoing development of relevant, effective strategies to significantly reduce food insecurity and its outcomes in the communities they serve and across the nation;
- Have access to and participate in relevant research studies to identify gaps and best practices that can be implemented in member communities;
- Participate in education sessions that add context to current research on the social determinants of health and provide proven strategies to improve community health outcomes;
- Advocate for policy issues that correlate and encourage community benefit, prevention, and health outcomes associated with hunger and other social determinants of health; and
- Have access to programs and tools that can be easily and effectively adapted to address specific community health and prevention needs in clinic and office settings and during acute and postacute care periods.
Coalition members have opportunities to participate in regular webinars, an annual education and best practices conference, advisory committees (e.g., congressional advocacy, clinical and research issues, and education), and other regularly scheduled events by the Root Cause Coalition and its partners.