Addressing hunger and health during a pandemic


Hunger is a solvable, social determinant of health. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted various factors that drive deep health disparities in our communities. There is a renewed urgency to face these factors directly and address hunger as a health issue in a meaningful way. 

The 4th Annual Hunger-Free Healthcare Summit will engage in this important conversation during a virtual summit on Thursday, October 1. We invite you to join us, and you can register here.  

Prior to the pandemic, 1 in 8 people in this region were food insecure, meaning they did not have access to adequate food and nutrition to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s 303,820 people who did not know where their next meal was coming from. 1 in 7 children (93,090) were food insecure. 

Now, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, we project that 1 in 6 people, or 433,470 people, are now food insecure. For children, the rate jumps dramatically to 1 in 4 children.

Join us at this virtual summit to hear from local and national experts about programmatic and operational innovations in addressing hunger in response to the pandemic. The event will highlight regional efforts to respond to hunger as a health issue during a pandemic, including lessons learned, promising practices, and critical health equity considerations. 

Qiana Thomason, president and CEO of Health Forward Foundation, will share remarks on the current landscape in Kansas City and this region, and also moderate a thoughtful discussion among a panel of experts about the intersection of hunger and health. Panel members include Dr. Daphne Bascom (Saint Luke’s Health System), Sarah Sentmore (Children’s Mercy Hospital), Emily Brown (Food Equality Initiative), and Jessica Kejr (Harvesters). 

We are also pleased that Traci Simmons, programs manager on the health and nutrition team at Feeding America, will share the national perspective and impact of COVID-19 on food insecurity. 

4th Annual Hunger-free Healthcare Summit

Adapting through Crisis: Innovations and Proven Practices to Address Hunger and Health during a Pandemic:

This summit is hosted by the Hunger-Free Healthcare Steering Committee: AdventHealth Shawnee Mission; Children’s Mercy Hospital; Food Equality Initiatives; Harvesters—The Community Food Network; Johnson County Department of Health and Environment; and Saint Luke’s Health System. Jessica Kejr serves as the chair for this committee.

Please contact Jessica Kejr with any questions: or 816-929-3045.