Hunger Safety Net



The hunger safety net is the network of public and private support (food banks, federal nutrition programs, SNAP-ed, informal food networks) available to address food insecurity and suboptimal dietary intake in low-income communities.

The Hunger Safety Net Working Group is comprised of an interdisciplinary team of researchers and leaders committed to raising awareness of and improving nutrition policies and priorities in the hunger safety net through shared research and evaluation. This Working Group is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN).


Food Policy Councils

Clinical Linkages


The mission of the Hunger Safety Net Working Group is to build a network of researchers and leaders from academia, non-profit organizations, government, and other funding agencies to increase the amount and quality of research and evaluation in the area of nutrition and obesity prevention in the hunger safety net setting, and to support and facilitate the development and implementation of evidence-informed policies and practices.

Key Activities and Findings

Overall Goal: To inform nutrition policies and practices implemented in the hunger safety net by providing rigorous, policy-relevant research and evaluation.

Short-Term Goals:

  • Build a network of researchers and leaders with expertise in nutrition policy, research, and evaluation as it relates to the hunger safety net.
  • Identify gaps in the hunger safety net knowledge base
  • Increase the linkage between public health infrastructure and the hunger safety net.
  • Develop 2-4 working group subgroups and recruit subgroup leaders.

Long-Term Goals:

  • Build evidence to support changes to policies, environments, and practices that will optimize the hunger safety net and facilitate desirable changes in dietary intake in food insecure populations.
  • Increase funded high-quality research on the impact of the hunger safety net.
  • Effect change in national, state, local, and tribal policies and practices to improve nutrition standards in the hunger safety net.


Download the Hunger Safety Net WG Overview for more information

Download Food Insecurity Screening and Referral Algorithms developed by the Hunger Safety Net Clinical Linkages Subgroup:

Pediatric Patients


Patients Living with Diabetes 

Download Addressing Food Insecurity: A Toolkit for Pediatricians developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics in collaboration with the Food Research and Action Center.

Download the Tackling Hunger Project’s Exploratory Evaluation of Food Insecurity Programs Initiated by Health Care Organizations

Download the Tackling Hunger Project’s Practical Guidance on Making Food Systems Part of Your Community Health Needs Assessment

View monthly meeting minutes here:

  • July 2015: Partner Perspectives
  • August 2015: Hospital Community Benefit Programs and the Hunger Safety Net
  • September 2015: SNAP-ed Perspectives from the USDA
  • November 2015: Assessing Community Readiness for Food Pantry Nutrition Initiatives
  • February 2016: Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Programs
  • April 2016: Root Cause Coalition and Tackling Hunger Initiative
  • June 2016: Sustainable Management of Food: A Call to Action
  • August 2016: How Food Policy Councils Address Anti-Hunger Issues
  • November 2016: Food Insecurity and Health Care Costs
  • January 2017: Group Discussion
  • March 2017: Integrating Social Determinant Screening and Interventions into Health Care Systems: HIPAA and Liability Concerns
  • May 2017: Hunger Free Colorado: Addressing Hunger Through Referrals
  • July 2017: Piloting the first statewide medically tailored, home delivered meals project
  • September 2017: Developing the Food Assortment Scoring Tool (FAST), SuperShelf: Transforming Food Shelves to Bring Good Food to All



Hilary Seligman, MD, MAS
Associate Professor of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital
Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California San Francisco

Stephen Cook, MD, MPH, FAAP, FTOS
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Center for Community Health,
Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester
Golisano Children’s Hospital at the URMC