How You Can Fight Hunger and Malnutrition

When I was a freshly minted registered dietitian, I thought I was going to change the world of clinical practice. I began my career at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the teaching hospitals at Harvard Medical School. I spent my time addressing end-stage renal disease with specialized diet counseling and supporting patients recovering from surgery and trauma through tube feedings and parenteral nutrition solutions.

But the patients who truly touched my heart were the ones for whom I realized chronic disease was a result of lack of access to nutritious food. One was Bill, whose poorly controlled diabetes progressed to renal failure, leading to a need for dialysis and then a transplant. He told me he ate just one meal a day for the last two weeks of the month because there just wasn’t enough food in the house. “And I’m sure not going to take food and make my daughter go hungry,” Bill said.

Another was Miss Emma, who came to the hospital so often with infections in her foot that she eventually required an amputation. Her albumin was 1.9 (the normal range is 3.5 to 5.5). She had been told by many health providers to follow a strict diabetic and renal diet, but no one understood that she didn’t have the cooking knowledge or food resources to cook creatively. So she ate what low-sodium, low-sugar and low-potassium foods she could get from the food pantry and corner store, ending up severely malnourished.

Today, I dedicate my life to addressing nutrition and alleviating hunger in communities through my work with Feeding America and as a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Security Workgroup.

Make your voice heard on this important topic. Respond to the Academy’s malnutrition action alert! Then, keep fighting with these resources and ideas for getting involved to end hunger and malnutrition. How You Can Fight Hunger and Malnutrition -

Resources to Use during Hunger Action Month and Beyond

Kim Prendergast on Twitter
Kim Prendergast
Kim Prendergast, RD, MPP, is a registered dietitian, nonprofit director and consultant who works with uninsured and food insecure populations in the Boston area. Connect with her on Twitter.