Addressing Nutrition Insecurity Among Vulnerable Mothers and Children
Special Projects Fund
March 23, 2018
Many Long Island families who live near the poverty level cannot meet basic survival budgets, which increases their risk of nutritional insecurity.
The dangers of nutritional insecurity are especially serious for young children, where the risks for early childhood developmental delays and future cognitive impairment are high. Because lack of nourishment is especially harmful during prenatal development and a child’s first five years of life, nutrition benefit programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), are crucial to providing a continuous source of nutritious food and improving the health of families. However, many Long Island families eligible for nutrition benefit programs are not accessing their benefits. In 2018, NYSHealth awarded Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI) a grant to improve access to nutrition benefit programs through enhanced collaboration and referrals between these programs and pediatric providers at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).
Under this grant, HWCLI will assemble a working group to improve coordination between pediatricians at FQHCs and nutrition benefit programs with the goal of boosting enrollment for mothers and children. The working group will comprise diverse stakeholders, such as SNAP staff, WIC providers, FQHC pediatric staff, and government offices, that will conduct a needs assessment to understand the experience of clients accessing nutrition benefit programs at the FQHCs. Participating pediatric providers at the FQHCs will use validated screening tools to identify patients with nutritional insecurity and refer them to WIC and SNAP programs. To monitor results, HWCLI will collect and track referrals through a client database to get an overall assessment of the experience of new mothers and their children accessing nutrition benefit programs and pediatric services at the FQHCs. HWCLI will produce a final report to disseminate best practices statewide and nationally, and will work with other organizations to create a replicable statewide model to improve health outcomes for mothers and their children.