February 2016 Newsletter

If not us, who? If not now, when?
These words have echoed through the ages and have been applied to issues ranging from working to achieve world peace, to establishing national policy and countless others between. Individuals and businesses alike use the words to personally and collectively inspire, motivate and achieve goals and better outcomes.

If not us, who? If not now, when??
When I hear these words now, I think of our mission at The Root Cause Coalition: 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. Hunger’s impact on health in our nation exceeds $130 billion each year. Those are real numbers with just as real consequences: Food insecurity and inadequate nutrition hastens the early onset of diabetes and high blood pressure, and exacerbates other health conditions that rob individuals of their health and ability to achieve their best self that, in turn, have myriad consequences on a community’s ability to thrive; from educational attainment to economic development, progress and stability.

The sense of urgency that each of our members at The Root Cause Coalition have to address individuals’ most basic needs gives me the assurance that we can, through creative community collaboration, shared best practices, research, education and advocacy, be the catalyst for positive change that expands our view and includes the social determinants of health in each of our conversations and plans for the future. After all – If not us, who? If not now, when?

With gratitude for your commitment to others,


Barbara J. Petee
Executive Director
View Upcoming Events

Executive Director Barbara Petee Gives Testimony on Healthy Food Incentives to House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition

On Feb. 3, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition held a hearing to review incentive programs aimed at increasing low-income families’ purchasing power for fruits and vegetables. Members heard from a variety of witnesses, including Executive Director of The Root Cause Coalition Barbara Petee, on how incentive programs are increasing the consumption of healthier foods, along with the challenges and opportunities for these programs moving forward. Barbara’s testimony focused on the importance of framing hunger as a public health issue and urged the committee to address this growing problem. You can read Barbara’s full written testimony here and view the entire hearing here.

Research Highlights

Study Shows Link Between Oral Health and Socioeconomic Status
A recent study provided another example of how socioeconomic status can have an impact on health, this time in regards to oral health. Results show there is a significant relationship between socioeconomic disadvantages and poor oral health among marginalized populations. This study also illustrates the importance of including oral health in broader strategies that address health inequities.

New Framework Shows How to Assess Value of Primary Prevention
Researchers have recently created a framework that public health officials and policymakers can use to assess the value of investments in nonclinical prevention. Their framework, published by the CDC, includes discussion on health determinants and addresses the impact that primary prevention intervention can have on health care costs. It also emphasizes the value of understanding the determinants of health in both theory and practice.

Study Illustrates Need to Address Economic Disparities in Anti-Smoking Strategies
Low socioeconomic status is commonly associated with both food insecurity and high rates of cigarette smoking and a recent study examined the association between these two factors among young adults. Results indicated that smoking prevalence was significantly higher among young adults who reported being food insecure. These results thus llustrate the need to address socioeconomic status within public health initiatives intended to reduce tobacco use.

The Root Cause Coalition newsletter is published monthly to provide updates on our work in addressing the social determinants of health, with specific emphasis on hunger as a public health issue, and our work on improving the health status of individuals and communities. To join our growing community, or if you would like more information, please be sure to visit our website at www.rootcausecoalition.org or contact us at [email protected] or [email protected].