Extension leads coalition to fight child hunger in Oregon

Child eating with a spoon
Economists estimate that the costs associated with childhood poverty come to $500 billion per year. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Online program has trained hundreds of health care workers to recognize signs of hunger and learn intervention strategies

Oregon has one of the leading child hunger rates in the nation. Poorly nourished children are at particularly high risk of suffering from health problems and related emotional and psychological issues. Economists estimate nearly one in five children lives in poverty, and that the associated costs come to $500 billion per year. (This estimate reflects reduced productivity and economic output, increased costs of crime and increased health care costs.)

OSU Extension nutrition educator Anne Hoisington is one of the founding members of the Childhood Hunger Coalition, a program of the Oregon Food Bank that instructs health practitioners to combat this problem in Oregon. Hoisington, along with several partner health care agencies and organizations, has trained hundreds of health care workers to recognize signs of hunger and learn intervention strategies that are effective in helping children and families at risk for hunger.

One significant outcome of the coalition’s efforts is the creation of a free, five-unit online course on hunger intervention strategies taught by Hoisington. Since it became available in October 2008, about 2,500 nurses, physicians, dietitians and other health care practitioners have taken the course. In follow-up surveys, 66 percent indicated they made changes in their work or patient care processes as a result of taking the course.

Contact: Anne Hoisington; National Center for Children in Poverty.

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