Date of Publication




This study investigated Vermont physicians’ awareness of - and engagement in – addressing food insecurity experienced by their elderly patients. This information is needed to better understand the role physicians play in solving this problem and to know how education and access to services could ensure that the needs of elders are met in a culturally sensitive manner.

Many elders must choose between paying bills, buying medication or buying food. Some elders are unaware that they qualify for food assistance, or would feel stigmatized using it.

Nationally, 56% of physicians reported that they were not knowledgeable about food insecurity.

Food insecurity can be screened for by using Hunger Free Vermont’s Two Question Screen.

Screening, followed by a multidisciplinary team approach with contributions from dietitians, geriatricians, social workers and psychologists may be the most effective way of assessing at-risk patients.


Naomi Fukagawa, MD, PhD, University of Vermont College of Medicine

Jane Kolodinsky, PhD, MBA, University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Katy Davis, MA, Hunger Free Vermont


Hunger Free Vermont


Access to Health Services, Health-Related Quality of Life & Well-Being, Nutrition and Weight Status, Social Determinants of Health, Educational and Community-Based Programs


Presented at the 2016 APHA Annual Meeting & Expo, Denver, CO, November 1, 2015.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

Role of Physicians in Addressing Food Insecurity in Vermont Seniors