MAY 2016 Newsletter

As we begin the summer months it is my hope that this message finds you well and able to enjoy time in the coming days and weeks to relax, and spend time with friends and family. We all need a break, and even long weekends or a quiet afternoon can provide the recharge necessary. But for too many individuals, needed breaks never come. For those who are challenged to meet their basic needs every day, every day is a hard scramble to secure needed nourishment, shelter, transportation, and a host of other essentials. For children, the summer months can be a break from the routine of school, but summer vacation may also cut kids from their routine and dependable sources of food.

Summer meal programs help tremendously and, while the availability of summer meals has been increasing dramatically in communities across the country, the rise in children accessing these meals highlights the constant need. Likewise, seniors who struggle with basics in the winter – utility bills and food – have similar needs in the summer. For many, heating needs in the winter turn to the same need for air conditioning in the summer to stave off sweltering temperatures that can trigger or worsen many health episodes. Regardless of the season, the constant need to ensure access to food and other basic needs is real, and The Root Cause Coalition is working diligently on advocacy, education, and research to better equip healthcare and community collaborators to ensure all individuals can live full, meaningful, and productive lives.

This summer, let’s all make the commitment to ensure that there is no break in the work we do for those who depend on us.


Barbara J. Petee
Executive Director


The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight: Community Servings

Community Servings is a not-for-profit food and nutrition program providing services throughout Massachusetts to individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses. We give our clients, their dependent families, and caregivers appealing, nutritious meals, and send the message to those in greatest need that someone cares. Our goals are to help our clients maintain their health and dignity and preserve the integrity of their families through culturally appropriate, medically tailored home-delivered meals, nutrition education, and other community programs.

Together with similar agencies and colleagues across the country, we are making the case for Food is Medicine – we are building the evidence-base to convince health care payers, providers, and policy leaders to reimburse for medically tailored home-delivered meals for individuals coping with severe illnesses through existing and evolving models of health care.


Upcoming Events

September 14, 2016 – Western Regional Summit “Diagnosis: Hunger” in partnership with The Alliance to End Hunger – Register here.

December 6, 2016 – First Annual Conference to Address the Social Determinants of Health – Registration opening soon!


Research Highlights

A recent study examined how creating a partnership between primary care practices and local school-based health centers can improve access to high-quality care for shared lower socioeconomic status patients. After assessing visits and quality measures, results showed that shared patients had a higher likelihood of receiving quality services and better adherence with preventative disease management. Thus, implementing shared patient partnerships can be an effective way to improve health equity, especially among school-aged adolescents.

A study recently published by the CDC tapped into community perspectives to find solutions for the social and economic barriers to food access in rural food deserts. The authors conducted focus groups with rural women living in food deserts to learn about their perceived solutions to this problem. Their input revealed how local activities like community gardening and hunting and local resources like food pantries and improved public transportation could improve food access.

A recent study explored how to improve the ability of healthcare professionals to better meet the needs of lower socioeconomic status patients. Researchers hosted group sessions between both healthcare teams and individuals living in poverty to facilitate a comprehensive discussion about the barriers to accessing quality medical care. Results of this collaboration showed a need to improve medical students’ and residents’ training about the living conditions and health impacts of poverty in order to provide more sensitive and effective care.


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 in improving the health status of individuals and communities. If you would like more information, please be sure to visit our website at or contact us at [email protected] or [email protected]