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Creating culturally inclusive food security programs

Leveraging community partnerships to reach those in need

by Oracle Cerner

Published on 9/30/2022
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It's estimated that 80% of an individual’s health is determined by nonclinical factors, such as socioeconomic, behavioral and physical environments. Today more than 38 million people in the United States are facing hunger, including one in six children. Those struggling with food insecurity are at increased risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Hunger impacts their stress levels and ability to care for themselves and others. Hunger also impacts their performance at work and school; it’s even been linked to suicide risk.

Yet some of the most vulnerable communities don’t know how to take advantage of free food resources. In this episode, members of University Health, a safety net hospital in Kansas City, share how they’ve been working to increase access to resources for one of their most food-insecure communities—immigrants and refugees.


  • Gloria Diamond, Director of Health Network Product Market Strategy, Oracle Cerner

  • Susan Oweti, Supervisor of Cultural Health Navigation / Arabic Interpreter and Director of UH One World Food Pantry, University Health

  • Deborah Sisco, Manager, Patient Advocacy and Engagement – Quality Resources, University Health

  • Alison Troutwine, Project Manager, University Health

Hear them discuss:

  • How does your cultural health navigator program help identify patients as food insecure? (1:30)

  • What feedback have you heard? (7:12)

  • How are social determinants of health being addressed at the community level? (10:54)

  • Tell us about how University Health formed a partnership with a local food bank? Why did you pursue that route instead of only doing referrals? (13:09)

  • Since many recipients of your pantry come from different cultures, how have you provided foods that are tailored to your community’s needs? (15:00)

  • How do you build a food program that makes an impact and is sustainable for the long term? (20:10)

Notable quotes:

“Research shows by the time someone has made their home in the United States for five years, a lot of them aren't food insecure anymore. So we're really talking about helping people when they need it the most—when they're first getting here.” – Deb Sisco
“You can hear the community saying, ‘Thank you, thank you for doing this. This is what we really needed,’ you know? ‘Thank you for thinking about this—this is really appreciated.’” – Susan Oweti
“It's so important to build a team of passionate people that can work together to address the needs of our community.” – Alison Troutwine
“That's beautiful: respecting people's culture, providing dignity, all very important work that you're doing.” – Gloria Diamond