Main article: Providers Focus on Food Insecurity
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages pediatricians to use the Hunger Vital Sign—a validated two-question screening tool—to identify patients who may need help getting food.
Parents are asked to use a four-point scale—“often true,” “sometimes true,” “never true,” or “don’t know/refused”—to answer these questions:
- Within the past 12 months, we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more.
- Within the past 12 months, the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.
The screening tool can be administered in writing as part of the routine paperwork that patients fill out in the waiting room, or verbally.
The Academy worked with the Food Research & Action Center to develop Addressing Food Insecurity: A Toolkit for Pediatricians earlier this year. It includes these tips to help providers discuss food insecurity with parents and caregivers.
- Screen all patients at every interaction so no one feels singled out.
- If the screening tool is administered verbally, consider how to do so when the child is not in the room and when other patients and staff will not overhear the conversation.
- Normalize the process by starting with something like, “I’m seeing so many people that are having a hard time affording food, so I’m asking all of my patients some questions about this.”