Written by Geeta Wadhwani
This year has been a time of growth for the food security initiative – specifically our work in Milwaukee. We’ve grown with new partners, strategies and activities that have brought quite a bit of excitement. Partner additions included a Milwaukee Health Department, a Medical College of Wisconsin physician champion and a Chorus Community Health Plans partner. We started the year with a strategic planning session intended to narrow our 2023 priorities. The food security initiative and partners focused on increasing access to FoodShare, navigating health and food systems, developing use cases to move us towards data sharing and the inclusion of residents. In addition, we added health care and food/nutrition policy to our list of goals. Although we don’t have a policy agenda, this is an important next step for the collaborative towards shared advocacy.
In 2023, our collaborative practice received the Advancing Health Equity award from the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), which we accepted in New Orleans. We’ve also had the opportunity to share our learnings, challenges and strengths at a Health Users Group (HUG) meeting in August, hosted by Data You Can Use. This was the first in-person meeting where we were able to get together as a team to share our collective and individual perspectives.
Embedding a FoodShare outreach specialist
As our work continues to expand, we have had a FoodShare outreach specialist embedded in a primary care clinic in Milwaukee, and a navigator has joined our team. The navigator’s role is to connect families to food and nutrition resources following a positive screen for food insecurity. She is having conversations with residents who utilize the food pantry to see if they have connections with a primary care clinic. We had a resident working with us for a short time, and we recognize that including residents and youth on the team is not only a priority, but a piece we are actively working on.
As the year comes to a close, we’re excited about our progress. Improving community food security takes time, persistence and stepping forward; with an occasional step back. While the team is ready to jump forward, we recognize and appreciate that organizational processes can take time. I look forward to 2024 as we continue to build on some strategies that we started in 2023, while engaging in some new ones like data chats).