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Take the Lead: Children’s hospitals play a critical role in addressing food insecurity

Take the Lead is a blog series from Teri Nestel, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In this leadership-focused series, Teri will share her insights and leadership lessons alike.

Our organization is dedicated to advancing the health and wellbeing of children. We know that nutrition, healthy eating and overall wellness are key to the next generation’s future success and ensuring positive health outcomes. And we’re especially proud of our role in providing unrestricted funding to support the efforts of our member hospitals in offering critical food insecurity programs that best suit their patient and community needs.

These programs take many shapes and forms – from food distribution programs to financial support for families requiring food assistance, health and nutrition education, partnerships, and referrals to community food insecurity initiatives.

Here are just a few examples of how member hospitals of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals are stepping up to address the food insecurity needs of households and communities across America:

  • Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center (Killeen, TX)offers a Food Insecure Box Program as part of a larger initiative to provide non-perishable food to families with immediate needs.
  • Beaumont Children’s (Royal Oak, MI) is offering school food pantries in 11 southeast Michigan schools to meet the needs of children and their families.
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado (Aurora, CO)partners with the Colorado Health Foundation on a plan offering access to food for 90% of the state’s vulnerable children. It also has a pediatric food pharmacy where families can stock up on healthy food, some of which is grown in an onsite garden.
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia offers a Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy as part of its Healthy Weight Program where patients are asked about food insecurity at every visit.
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital provides formula to families with infants who are food insecure. Their Food as a Medicine Family Market also provides shelf staple foods for families, distributing more than 32,000 pounds of food to 2,700 individuals and families in its first two years.
  • Hurley Children’s Hospital (Flint, MI)provides patients and families access to fresh produce through its Food FARMacy program, including a Farmer’s Market and a demonstration garden across the street from the hospital.

More than 96% of member hospitals offer food insecurity resources or programs, collectively reaching more than 98% of the U.S. population.

The support of our donor communities and corporate partners is critical to all these approaches and efforts addressing food insecurity needs to ensure our children are able to be healthy and reach their full potential.