Why focus on children specifically? For starters, the plan notes that “the rate of food insecurity among children is consistently near double that of overall food insecurity.” It also points to a relationship between childhood food insecurity and poorer health across the lifespan.
The Care for Kids (CFK) participants the Primary Care Coalition (PCC) serves qualify for the program based on their household income being below 250% of the federal poverty level ($69,375 for a family of four in 2022). The plan notes that the actual minimum amount needed to purchase essential goods and services, including food, in our expensive county—the “Self-Sufficiency Standard”—is far higher than any food assistance benefit cutoffs, coming in at roughly 400% of the federal poverty level and more than $100,000 “for the most common family compositions.” The children we serve are at risk for food insecurity based on their household income, yet, as the plan notes, these same children may not qualify for supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits based on their immigration status.
Of particular importance is the way the plan explores layered funding sources to expand benefit levels beyond current eligibility. As with health care access programs, this approach would promote enrollment among households that qualify for existing benefits, while adding county-funded support for those whose immigration status keeps SNAP benefits out of reach. Providing SNAP-style assistance to Care for Kids enrollees would mean approximately $1,740 annually in additional nutrition dollars per participant, according the the plan.
The plan also points to Food is Medicine approaches as an area for innovative investment. PCC has included CFK participants in Food is Medicine programming by screening households for food insecurity at the time of enrollment in CFK and directing them to local assistance resources. Community FarmShare has also worked with Montgomery Cares partner clinics to treat clinic-identified food insecurity with crops from local growers. There is so much potential for collaboration among food security and health care partners, and we look forward to building more partnerships around meeting this essential health need.