Pathways to Combat Food Insecurity and Enhance Community Health

Pathways to Combat Food Insecurity and Enhance Community Health

Seth A. Berkowitz, M.D., MPH, explored how tackling food insecurity can significantly improve health outcomes and empower communities at this month’s Forge AHEAD Center (FAC) seminar. The seminar, held at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Population Health, offered a deep dive into the systemic challenges and practical solutions concerning food insecurity—a pressing issue that aligns closely with FAC’s ongoing commitment to health equity and community empowerment.

In his presentation, “Food Insecurity, Diabetes, and Distributive Institutions”, Dr. Berkowitz provided a deep dive into what it means to live without reliable access to nutritious food. He described food insecurity as a “lack of consistent access to the food needed for an active, healthy lifestyle,” a daily reality that many in our communities may be painfully familiar with. “Food insecurity is principally a problem of distributive institutions,” Dr. Berkowitz shared. He emphasized that systemic issues in income distribution greatly impact access to adequate nutrition. This challenge is especially critical for individuals managing chronic conditions like diabetes, where consistent and nutritious meals are crucial for maintaining health.

Dr. Berkowitz called for a combined effort of healthcare solutions and policy changes. He spoke about the benefits of community-supported nutritional programs and policy reforms that aim to break down these barriers. To effectively tackle food insecurity, he emphasized the vital roles of community involvement and policy advocacy. He suggested advocating for improved social safety nets and fair food distribution, supporting local food banks and health programs, and educating others about how health connects with economic and social factors. By getting involved in these ways, everyone can contribute to a deeper understanding and drive meaningful change in their communities.

The insights from Dr. Berkowitz shed light on the connection between food insecurity and health and emphasize how every one of us has a part to play in addressing these challenges. The Forge AHEAD Center is dedicated to sparking change and enabling our community to achieve better health through informed collective action.

Your participation is crucial as we continue to advocate for systemic changes and pursue health equity for everyone. Join us in turning these insights into meaningful community action.

View the recording of the presentation below.

Join us at our next seminar in May, where we will host Michele Allen, M.D., MS, associate professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School and one of the leads of the C2DREAM Center (another P50 NIH-funded center part of the Health Equity Action Network), and Kene Orakwue, MPH, doctoral student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for their presentation titled, “Racism as a foundational contributor to inequities across multiple chronic diseases”. For more details and registration, please visit this page.