First Food Pantry in Pediatric Clinic Addresses Food Insecurity

August 07, 2018

Lurie Children’s Healthy Communities, in collaboration with the Uptown Primary Care Clinic, the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, and the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD), is piloting Chicago’s first food pantry at a pediatric outpatient clinic for families that screen as food insecure. The food pantry opened in July.

Families that screen as food insecure are offered a bag of 10 healthy non-perishable food items and an invitation to return once a month over the subsequent two months. During the pilot’s first six months, it is anticipated that the UCFP will distribute more than 150 bags of food supplied by the GCFD.

To ensure that these families find more sustainable access to food long-term, this intervention also includes enhancement of existing partnerships with the neighborhood emergency food system and other social services in an attempt to monitor referral success. Tracking of process and outcome measures will allow for thorough evaluation of Lurie Children’s first food insecurity initiative. This initiative is led by Dr. Barbara Balydon, medical director of the Uptown clinic.

Food insecurity is the condition in which people cannot reliably access adequate affordable, nutritious food. The ramifications of food insecurity are far reaching, including reductions in health outcomes and quality of life.

"A lot of people who don't know about this topic think, oh, they can't possibly be food insecure because the children are obese, and that must mean they're getting too much food,” Dr. Balydon told WBBM Newsradio. “But it's that they're getting the wrong types of food, and it turns out that those less nutritious, calorie-dense foods are actually cheaper than the healthy foods.”

To learn more about Healthy Communities, click here.