by Delaney Gracy, MD, MPH, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Children's Health Fund
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, a wonderful tradition and time to enjoy a hearty home-cooked meal with family and friends while giving thanks. It’s also a time to think about those who aren’t as fortunate and won’t be able to enjoy a meal this Thanksgiving.
When I was working on the mobile clinics with the New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP), one of the first questions I would ask my patients was “Have you eaten today?” Sadly, the answer to this question was often “no.” Many of the families seen by CHF doctors across the country struggle from food insecurities. In fact, in a recent survey of all of the programs within CHF’s National Network, we found that referrals made by health care providers to community-based services were most frequently related to food insecurity. Proper nutrition is pivotal to healthy living, especially for children, so when a patient hasn’t eaten, his or her health will undoubtedly be impacted.
Luckily, because of CHF’s ability to not only provide primary care services, but also social services referrals to help address the complete picture of a child’s well-being, we were able to help these families get food immediately and begin the process of signing the families up for food assistance programs. In New York, if a family visiting the clinic needs an immediate source of food, we are able to go to the food pantry at CHF's New York Children's Health Project and provide a few days worth of healthy meals for the entire family. As part of the longer-term solution, NYCHP staff helps the family find services that will provide them with access to food via food stamps, benefits, or other local soup kitchens or pantries. From January to October 2010, the NYCHP food pantry fed more than 400 individuals and helped get them back on their feet.
Children's Health Fund programs and services, like our food pantry, wouldn't be possible without your support, so this Thanksgiving we thank you for all that you do to help us provide the best health care to underserved communities. We hope you all enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with your friends and families.