Hunger is an issue in this country. Yet it might not be precisely the issue you think it is. By and large, we as a nation treat hunger as a social problem. And certainly socioeconomic status is the chief driving factor in the more than 17.5 million U.S. households currently dealing with hunger. But what if we challenged conventional wisdom a bit and began to think of hunger more as a public health issue? Would that change how we address the problem? We think it would.

We’re The Root Cause Coalition, and we were established to engage the healthcare community from all disciplines and provider models, public health organizations, government officials, the nutrition and food industry, and anyone dedicated to collectively developing and deploying effective solutions that will address hunger and food insecurity, and improve our nation’s health and overall well-being. Because hunger as a national health issue is so much bigger than just lack of food. It also encompasses insufficient access to healthy, nutritional food, which leads to higher instances of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a host of chronic illnesses.

Yet hunger is just one piece of the puzzle. If we want to prevent illness and eliminate health disparities, we must look beyond hunger and consider the various aspects and moments in an individual’s life that affect their overall health. Housing, education, job opportunities and access to resources are just a few of the social determinants that impact health.

We’d like you to join us. By working together, we can develop a sustainable national framework to address hunger and other social determinants of health and improve health outcomes for all.

15.3 million American children are food insecure