OBJECTIVES:

The purpose of this study is to describe an advocacy effort to implement a food insecurity (FI) screening during hospital admission and describe characteristics of hospitalized patients with household FI.

METHODS:

This is a descriptive study after the implementation of FI screening at a quaternary-care children’s hospital in the Southeastern United States between August 2020 and April 2021. The Hunger Vital Sign, a 2-question screening tool for FI, was added to the intake questionnaire performed on inpatient admissions. A positive screen triggered a social work consult to connect patients with resources. Chart review and statistical analyses were performed on patients with household FI.

RESULTS:

There were 7751 hospital admissions during the study period, of which 4777 (61.6%) had an FI screen completed. Among those with a completed screen, 233 patients (4.9%) were positive for household FI. Patients with household FI were more likely to be Black (P <.001) and have Medicaid (P <.001). Social work documented care specific to FI in 125 of the 233 (56%) FI patients, of which 39 (31%) were not enrolled in the Women, Infants, and Children Program/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

CONCLUSIONS:

This initiative highlights hospitalization as an opportunity to screen for FI using a multidisciplinary approach. Our findings underscore the importance of identifying FI with the goal of reducing FI and mitigating the adverse effects of FI on child health outcomes.

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