Combating Food Insecurity Through Collaboration
Importance of Summer Meals
In 2012 Dr. Lisa Chamberlain and other local pediatricians were seeing rising rates of food insecurity among her patients and their families. Not sure how to address this issue, she and colleague Dr. Janine Bruce reached out to the local Ravenswood City School District to see if they were similarly seeing high rates of food insecurity. Ms. Ruth Woods, Director of Student Services, said that teachers, staff and administrators were absolutely seeing high rates of food insecurity. When we asked how we could help, Ms. Woods simply said help me feed the kids and their parents over the summer. From this first discussion led to the Pediatric Advocacy Program's unwavering focus on food insecurity.
Champion for Kids
Ms. Woods required that the meal program serve both children and adults, as she knew that if there were hungry children, there were also hungry adults. She also required that the meals be as healthy as possible. We collaborated with Revolution Foods to serve a variety of delicious meals throughout the summer.
Addressing a Local Need
Families were eager to participate in the program. We served over 13,000 meals this first summer of 2012. Parents loved the salads and the kids couldn't get enough of the fresh stone fruit.
Power of Collaboration
Our second summer (2013) we needed a more sustainable funding model. We partnered with the YMCA of Silicon Valley and the East Palo Alto YMCA to leverage federal funding from the Summer Food Service Program for unlimited child meals. The partners from the YMCA were amazing at knowing all of the ins and outs associated with federal sponsorship.
Celebrating Collaborative Accomplishments
Early on we recognized the importance of celebrating individual contributions and shared accomplishments. In 2015, the San Jose Libraries hosted our annual celebration in the same room where they served hundreds of summer meals to local children and parents.
Lunch at the Library
In 2014, the Pediatric Advocacy Program began collaborating with the San Mateo Libraries, YMCA of Silicon Valley, and Second Harvest Food Bank to support serving meals in the libraries during winter and summer breaks to both children and adults. The Lucile Packard Children's Hospital provided seed money for the first round of winter meals. Through this collaboration the libraries went on to serve hundreds of meals to children and parents during the summer and throughout the year.
2018 Hunger Action Summit
Lisa Chamberlain, MD, MPH was an invited guest speak at the 2018 Hunger Action Summit sponsored by our collaborative partners at Second Harvest Food Bank. She spoke about the opportunities for physican enagement and advocacy regarding child and family food insecurity.
Running this program wouldn't have been possible without great support from many student and community volunteers. Over the years Stanford medical students, pediatric residents and undergraduates have gotten involved. We've also had masters in public health students from San Jose State and University of San Francisco.