Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford Launches New Support Program for Overcoming Food Insecurity
A village is needed to feed the community, especially during a pandemic.
With COVID-19, ordinary ways to obtain food for families experiencing food insecurity have been disrupted, both inside and outside the hospital. The challenge sparked people on the Stanford campus to gather and be creative to feed the family.
“In the community, regional food banks have been overwhelmed trying to make ends meet – especially in the beginning, when they often run out of key goods such as peanut butter, tuna and formula milk,” said Janine Bruce, DrPH, MPH, program director for PT Stanford Medicine Children’s Advocacy Program.
Add all the families who lost income during the new pandemic to receive food assistance, along with community food programs that have stopped service because of COVID-19, and needs have become very fast. Family-centered care start working with others at Packard Children’s to continue to support the family.
“At the hospital, parents cannot take turns leaving their child’s bed to get food, especially food that is affordable and culturally appropriate, because visitor access is limited to one person at a time,” said Lisa Chamberlain, MD, pediatrician at Gardner Packard Children’s Health Center and a pioneer in the efforts of the food school community for food insecurity.
The Stanford community is known for its generous, responsive passion, and ideas and connections begin to flow quickly. A village was formed between various teams at Packard Children’s, including social services, food service, voluntary service, and family-centered care, Along with Help San Mateo-Burlingame Maid for Children and Lucile Packard’s Foundation for Children’s Health. Collective groups work together to feed families with children living in hospitals, and address the needs of those who face food insecurity.
But their reach does not end there. They want to help the family after the family returns home, so they work together Stanford Medicine Children’s Advocacy Program to take advantage of the long established community food insecurity program.
“Everyone goes up to offer support during these uncertain times. That’s amazing, “said Rachel Kozlowski, manager of Family-Centered Care at Packard Children’s.
Feed the family in the hospital
Feeding families at Packard Children’s is not a new idea. Volunteer with Help San Mateo-Burlingame Maid for Children created a program called Packard Pantry in 2013 to feed families of children living in hospitals. The team of volunteers gathered twice a month to make 15 bags of food, complete with ready meals and food from The Second Valley of Silicon Valley. These efforts were stopped at the beginning of the pandemic.
“When we learned that the family could not go to get food, we decided to make a snack bag that could be sent to the bedside. We see it as an extension of Packard Pantry and a way for us to continue to fulfill our mission, “said Angie Hollman, a voluntary auxiliary organization who has long worked.
Snack pouches are made because family-centered care and social work do check-in every day with the family in the hospital. They hear stories every day that families get. A mother related that she had nothing to eat on her husband’s work days, because he could not deliver food for her. Likewise, the team found that on certain days 20 percent of the families they spoke to had difficulty getting food at home, in the hospital or both. These findings were presented to the Foundation, and a $ 50,000 grant was issued to help meet special needs in the hospital. Snacks and snack vouchers are made possible through grants, and additional volunteers running Packard Pantry have become key partners in implementation.
With social distance and lots of gloves, masks, and hand sanitizers, volunteer helpers recently gathered together to make 100 bags of snacks with fruit cups, mac and cheese that can be microwaved, energy bars, crackers, and drink boxes. When they run out, the volunteers will do it again.
“I can only imagine how difficult it was to arrive at the hospital in crisis with a critically ill child who needed food. If I can help in any way, it’s important for me to do it, “added Hollman.
In addition to the new snack bag program, the hospital provides 50 to 100 meals a day for families who need help accessing food. Food, some supplied by local restaurants, is ready and ready at Harvest Café. Thanks to a grant from the foundation, meal vouchers are also available for families.
“Since the end of May, we have distributed more than 600 dining vouchers to our canteen,” said Kozlowski. “This collective effort forms the new Food Support Program here at Children’s Packard.”
New hospital programs develop and change every day. Family-centered care continues to work with Dr. Chamberlain and others at Packard Children’s to support the family as the pandemic continues.
Care continues after the family returns home
Stanford Medicine Children’s Advocacy Program initiated a suite a program for food insecurity in 2012. Since the start of the pandemic, they have expanded their community’s efforts to feed families in the Bay Area.
“We have bought 17,000 pounds of food for families in San Mateo County and Santa Clara County, thanks for the help from Lucile Packard’s Foundation for Children’s Health, “Said Melanie Ramirez, program manager. “We also began a food journey internally with Packard Children’s employees and the School of Medicine. The first drive produced more than 80 food bags that we distributed to community organizations, including Head Start. “
The program also distributed 37,000 diapers – items that were in short supply due to a pandemic. At the same time, formula milk.
“A mother told me, ‘I choose between diapers and food for my child.’ We are truly proud to expand our efforts in this way and cut barriers with creativity for our family, “Ramirez said.
Because the program has established a strong network of community partners, they can launch new efforts quickly, using the same network for distribution.
“Our impact is strengthened by our partnership with community institutions. We made a greater impact together than we could do separately, “Bruce said.
Chamberlain appreciates having the resources to offer his starving family. Since its inception, the Child Advocacy Program, in partnership with local community organizations, has distributed thousands of meals through school-based summer meals and lunches in the library program.
“COVID-19 has hit families who are not safe from food very hard, so it is satisfying to know that, with great confidence and excitement, we can offer solutions for them,” concluded Dr. Chamberlain.
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