A pile of carrots, turnips and tomatoes

Social Determinants of Health

MaineHealth is implementing programs that directly address social determinants of health (SDOH). SDOH are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play that impact their health risks and outcomes. Examples of SDOH include access to nutritious food, quality health care, education and housing.

As part of this work, MaineHealth is providing healthy food resources to patients as well as connecting patients to federal nutrition programs and community resources.

Why does MaineHealth focus on SDOH?

  • 1 in 10 people in Maine did not have access to reliable sources of food during 2020.
  • In 2020, 15.9% of children in Maine lived in households experiencing food insecurity.
  • In 2020 in Maine, 11.1% of people were living in poverty.
  • 7.6% of adults in Maine were uninsured in 2020.

Taking Action

We support a variety of clinical, community and policy actions to help address SDOH throughout the MaineHealth service area. Here are some of the ways that MaineHealth and our partners are responding:

Tracking Progress

The Health Index Initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data sources to measure progress being made to address social determinants of health. In 2020, MaineHealth leaders set a bold, aggressive target as a way to challenge MaineHealth organizations to continue achieving positive steps toward the MaineHealth vision:

  • By 2028, 11% or less of households in the MaineHealth service area will experience food insecurity.

The percent of households experiencing food insecurity in Maine has decreased over time, from 15.1% in 2011-2013 to 9.5% in 2019-2021. Maine’s percent of households experiencing food insecurity in 2019-2021 was almost twice that of New Hampshire (5.4%) and was slightly below the U.S. overall (10.4%).

Household Food Insecurity

In the U.S., southern states tend to have the highest percentage of households experiencing food insecurity and states on the West coast and in the Midwest tended to have lower percentages. Notably, New Hampshire had one of the lowest percentages of food insecure households (5.7%). Source: Food Resource & Action Center

US Food Insecurity

The percentage of the population experiencing food insecurity varied across the MaineHealth Service Area, with the lowest percentage in Carroll County (9.3%) and the highest percentage in Somerset County (17.0%).

Maine Food Insecurity