Unpacking Social Determinants of Health & the Role of the Anti-Hunger Community

NHF President & CEO, Kelly Bruno recently facilitated a powerful presentation at this year’s National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, DC. Over 200 participants joined her presentation on the social determinants of health and the role of the anti-hunger community on Sunday, March 1st.

The presentation kicked off with a deep dive into the social determinants of health followed by a brief but eye-opening activity on health privilege. Participants were asked to rate themselves on measures that affected their health growing up (e.g. access to farmer’s markets and parks). This led to thoughtful discussions throughout the presentation on the types of barriers faced by communities—particularly black, indigenous and communities of color—when it comes to their health.

“What made the presentation so engaging was everyone’s openness to learning,” shares Bruno. “In many cases, participants were familiar with the social determinants of health but did not fully grasp the impact these determinants have on an individual’s or a community’s health.”

While participants learned about downstream, midstream and upstream solutions to addressing food insecurity and hunger in their communities, the role of upstream work was underscored. Examples of those solutions ranged from national and regional policies (e.g. Healthy People 2030, SNAP) to organizational and individual tactics like forming a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at work and self-education on topics like race and bias. Ultimately, attendees left with a better understanding of how they and their organizations could address hunger in diverse communities through equitable and inclusive approaches.