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Food Insecurity

Food Insecurity - Departments & Programs, UW Hospital and Clinics, Coordinated Care


On Tuesday, June 13, 2017, the Hunger Vital Sign™ will be added to the Patient Screening in the ED Narrator for Pediatrics and Adults; and to the Admission Health Assessment for IP Neonate, Pediatrics and Adults to screen for food insecurity.

Social determinants of health, such as access to enough nutritious foods, play a considerable role in disease prevention, health status and health outcomes. 

The Hunger Vital Sign™ is a USDA validated two-question tool to screen patients for food insecurity at every ED and inpatient admission (Hager, 2010). If the patient/patient’s family answers often true or sometimes true to either food security question, social work is asked to see them to provide food resources (except TAC ED where nursing will provide directly). Nursing is able to provide general food resources via a link in Health Link if social work is unable to see the patient before discharge and it will be documented when resources are given. Note that the rows are shared between the ED and inpatient settings. Food resources will also print in the AHCP/AVS for all positive screens.

Hunger Vital Sign™

For each statement, please tell me whether the statement was "often true, sometimes true, or never true" for your household (pick only one):

  1. "Within the past 12 months we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more."

    Often true

    Sometimes true

    Never true

  2. "Within the past 12 months the food we bought just didn't last and we didn't have money to get more."

    Often true

    Sometimes true

    Never true

Second Harvest created the HungerCare Coalition in 2014 to partner with health care organizations to screen patients for food insecurity and connect families with needed food resources. 

Food insecurity can include:

Food insecurity can affect all ages of our patient population and you will never know who is food insecure unless you ask.

* Hagar ER, et al. (2010). Development and Validity of a 2-Item Screen to Identify Families at Risk for Food Insecurity. Pediatrics, 126: e26-e32.


Addressing Food Insecurity: A Toolkit for Pediatricians

Basic Needs Dane County

By County Quick Resource Guide

Clinical Practice Guideline for Food Security

Food Insecurity Training and Education Video

Hunger Care Coalition Resources (Pediatric)

Hunger Vital Sign™ Tool