In July 2015 CHLPI released the white paper Food Banks as Partners in Health Promotion: Creating Connections for Client & Community Health.
Food banks are embedded in local communities across the country. They are central to the economic well-being of clients, who often struggle to find regular access to food. Food banks partner with government agencies, donors, and private companies to serve the interests of the more than 46 million individuals in the United States at risk of hunger.
Food banks do not need to be experts in health care, but they can be important partners in health promotion for their clients and local communities. Feeding America has increased national efforts to provide Foods to Encourage, or foods that align with the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, at member food banks. Recent changes in health care delivery may enable food banks to play a more formal role in health promotion and tailor some services to food insecure populations with specific health needs. There are new incentives for health providers to increase community engagement in order to improve health outcomes for clients. For food bank directors and partner agencies, this means potential opportunities for partnership and new sources of funding.
This White Paper aims to describe some shifts in the health care landscape that open up new opportunities for the nation’s food banks. It will also discuss several of the ways that food banks can take advantage of these developments to become a partner for health care providers. It outlines some top concerns for food banks seeking to form these partnerships, including capacity to invest resources in building new relationships and/or tailoring and expanding services.