Publication Date



food insecurity, primary care, community-based organization, food pantry, provider perceptions, stigma, qualitative analysis


Purpose: Food insecurity is a prominent issue in the United States, and it is well established that food insecurity is linked to health and chronic illnesses. Studies show that screening for food insecurity is not yet part of standardized practice among all primary care physicians, nor are care providers comfortable with how to proceed with a patient who presents with this issue. Food insecurity is often handled by community-based organizations (CBOs) such as food pantries. Family medicine and pediatric clinics (FMPC) and CBOs hold unique relationships with their clients and can benefit from partnerships with each other to improve health in their community. The goal of this research was to better understand the connections between primary care and community organizations in addressing food insecurity.

Methods: Focus groups and key informant interviews with FMPC providers and members of local CBOs (2 food pantries) were held from 2018 to 2019. Perceptions of participants regarding food insecurity were collected and analyzed concurrently using a grounded theory approach. Focus groups were transcribed and data analyzed for theme emergence.

Results: A total of 39 participants took part in 4 focus groups (each with 8–10 participants) and 4 individual key informant interviews. The following themes emerged in both FMPC and CBO, in parallel yet separate ways: meaningful relationships; stigma; conversation starters; having the answers; safe spaces; and purposeful training.

Conclusions: There is a disconnect between primary care and community organizations in regard to addressing food insecurity. FMPC and CBO could work together to create intentional intersections to address food insecurity and health in their shared populations.




April 13th, 2020


June 23rd, 2020


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