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SEMO Food Bank Office Selected to Participate in Feeding America Health-Care Program
Jen Wood, Research and Development Officer at Southeast Missouri Food Bank, has been selected to participate in a new Feeding America task force that will set the strategic agenda for a new health-care program. The goal of the new Healthcare Partnerships Community of Practice Conveners is to advance network learning and action on how to effectively address and reduce food insecurity through health-care partnerships and interventions.



“We identified candidates based on … unique perspectives brought through respective roles and experiences at food banks,” said Community Health & Nutrition Coordinator for Feeding America Traci Simmons. “We look forward to collaborating to advance network learning and action to effectively address and reduce food insecurity through health-care partnerships and interventions.”



“Jen has been instrumental in creating and building our food and health program, researching strategies to help our clients and give them the best-possible health outcomes,” said Joey Keys, chief executive officer of the SEMO Food Bank. “She wrote some health-focused grants that allowed us to implement a program to provide extra produce, dairy, and protein to senior citizens, and to hire a health benefits specialist who screens and monitors chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”



Early data from the program show a slight reduction in participants’ blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Woods reported the food bank is pleased with the results achieved thus far and hopes to see continued improvement.



“After joining SEMO Food Bank five years ago, it deeply concerned me that our senior clients reported three times the rate of diet-related chronic diseases than the overall population,” Wood said. “There is no easy solution to the complex problem of hunger and health, but it is accomplishable. I have a responsibility to learn to be a better advocate for change.”



Conveners, in partnership with Feeding America national staff, will work to increase subject matter expertise on health-care partnerships and interventions for food insecurity, help build resources to share with the network, and develop content for and lead calls and webinars on the subject of health and food insecurity. Additional working groups will create national guidelines for prescription food boxes and a best practice guide for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) application assistance with health-care partners.



Wood is one of fifteen people from Feeding America’s 200-member network to be chosen as a community convener. The appointment runs through June 2020.

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