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AARP Foundation and ProMedica Announce National Root Cause Coalition to Address Hunger as a Public Health Issue

The CDC Foundation will collaborate on an initial evaluation study of best practices

CONTACT:
Tara Dunion, 202-434-2560, media@aarp.org, @AARPMedia

WASHINGTON, D.C. —In 2014, almost 50 million Americans (14.1 percent of households) were food insecure, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life. AARP Foundation and ProMedica are pleased to announce a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to address hunger as a health issue and other social determinants of health. The primary goal of the organization, titled The Root Cause Coalition, is to become a national leading advocate of programs, policies and research to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and health disparities. While federal and state safety net programs play a primary role, there is significant potential to engage private sector leaders to help our nation become food secure. Members of the coalition will work together to establish a sustainable national framework for addressing these issues, with special emphasis on engaging the healthcare community.   

A key focus area for the coalition will be building on the research that has explored the cycle of hunger and food insecurity and links to chronic diseases and acute medical conditions. An initial research study on promising strategies and tools for non-traditional partner engagement including the healthcare community is entitled Tackling Hunger to Improve Health in Americans. This study is being commissioned by The Root Cause Coalition with the CDC Foundation, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As founding members of The Root Cause Coalition, ProMedica and AARP Foundation will work collaboratively to engage organizations across the country in identifying what’s already working and in developing and implementing new solutions to improve the health status of individuals and communities. Coalition membership will include a range of organizations along the food supply chain, including healthcare providers, consumer good companies and non-profits. While healthcare plays a leading role, the industries that manufacture and distribute food are also part of any viable business solution to ensuring affordable and accessible nutrition in the U.S. food supply.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, hunger disproportionately impacts children, the elderly, veterans, low-income and the chronically ill. Studies have found that children who are food insecure are at a higher risk of adverse health including risk of asthma. Malnutrition in adults, especially among the elderly, can increase the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as lengthen hospital stays.

“Given the scope, depth and duration of the problem of hunger in America—with one in seven households lacking nutritious food—we need new strategies and tactics that will bring sustainable change,” said Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of AARP Foundation. “The Root Cause Coalition aims to provide an innovative approach to combatting hunger, by bringing different industries together, including healthcare providers and food manufacturers, to collaborate for a new solution on treating hunger as a health issue. This is particularly important for the low income 50-plus population AARP Foundation serves.”

“It’s time to completely rethink how our organizations serve the needs of patients and communities and make fundamental changes in the healthcare delivery system,” said Randy Oostra, ProMedica president and CEO. “Hunger is a dire public health concern and healthcare providers are seeing more evidence of it every day. Industry collaboration is more critical than ever before to tackle this crisis and improve health outcomes throughout our nation.” 

The coalition will publicly report research findings and maintain a data repository for members with in-depth statistics and information that more clearly links hunger and food insecurity to health issues. At the initial meeting in Washington, DC, participants will discuss key objectives, in particular how to propel hunger and other social determinants of health as a focal point for action within the healthcare industry.

The coalition is actively recruiting a range of organizations across  the U.S. to join the cause. Collectively, members of the coalition will develop, implement, and share replicable strategies and best practices that can be applied across communities nationwide while targeting high-risk populations. Members will have access to a variety of resources and educational programs along with the opportunity to serve on national advisory committees.

For more information about The Root Cause Coalition, visit www.rootcausecoalition.org.

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The Root Cause Coalition is a nonprofit organization founded by ProMedica, a nonprofit healthcare system, and AARP Foundation, AARP’s affiliated charity, to engage health professionals from all disciplines and provider models, public health organizations, government officials, the nutrition and food industry, and other organizations, for the purpose of developing and implementing sustainable solutions to improve our nation’s health and well-being. Its name, The Root Cause Coalition, demonstrates the deeply interconnected links between reducing hunger across the nation and improving individual and community health. The Mission of The Root Cause Coalition is to address the social determinants of health, with specific emphasis on hunger as a public health issue, to improve the health status of individuals and communities. For more information, visit www.rootcausecoalition.org.

About AARP AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.​

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