COACH: Addressing Food Insecurity

Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health (COACH) is an initiative sponsored by The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania that brings together hospital/health system, public health, and community partners to address community health needs in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Facilitated by the Health Care Improvement Foundation since its September 2015 launch, COACH has provided a structure for participants to explore collaborative implementation strategies as hospitals/health systems complete the current round of community health needs assessments and implementation plans mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

COACH participants have been working toward consensus on shared strategy(ies) for collective adoption and inclusion in implementation plans that were submitted during November 2016.

Through a structured process, COACH participants have prioritized strategies addressing healthy food access and access to care/services in order to promote chronic disease prevention and management. These key facts demonstrate the relationship between food insecurity and health and health care.

Children whose families participate in COACH receive health food and access to health care

Food Insecurity

The direct connection between food security and proper nutrition, and better health is well-documented. Yet, in Pennsylvania, more than one in ten Pennsylvanians are food insecure.

HAP opposes a proposed federal rule that would drastically reduce Broad-based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The changes would jeopardize food access and adversely affect children, seniors, and people with disabilities. BBCE gives states the flexibility to determine appropriate income thresholds and extend SNAP benefits to low-income families and individuals who would otherwise struggle to afford food. If approved, the change would:

  • Destabilize families by forcing them to choose between putting food on their table or covering child care, rent, or other basic needs
  • Jeopardize free lunches for children who qualify, and programs that provide nutritious meals for children after school and during the summer

In Pennsylvania,

  • Food insecurity is reduced (by one-fifth overall, and one-third for children) when families get SNAP
  • Compared to low-income adults without SNAP, those who participate in SNAP have 25 percent less in health care expenditures
  • Low-income adults who struggle with chronic disease and participate in SNAP have even greater reductions in health care expenditures 

HAP Contacts

For more information, contact Robert Shipp III, PhD, BSN, RN, vice president, population health and clinical affairs. For media inquiries, contact Rachel Moore, director, media relations.

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