Feed1st

“Over a decade, we have had hundreds of volunteers and contributors, including especially medical students, nurses, plant and facilities employees, grateful patients, donors, and our own families who keep Feed1st going and growing. There should be no hunger in our rich and privileged society. When hunger is gone, Feed1st will then have achieved our mission.” Read the full letter from our founder here.

Stacy Lindau, MD, MAPP, founder of Feed1st

The Feed1st Program started in 2010 as a food pantry in the Comer Children’s Hospital. It was founded by a group of Pritzker medical students, Comer Children’s Hospital staff, and University of Chicago faculty. We partner with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and UChicago Medicine Garden Committee to supply food to patients and their families at the University of Chicago Medicine.

Feed1st minimizes stigma and maximizes dignity of people experiencing hunger and food insecurity using an open access 24/7/365, self-serve, no questions asked, everyone included approach. The Feed1st food pantries are available for the entire UCM community to take what they need for themselves or others they know. There are no requirements to receive food, nor are there limits on how much food families may take, making the food pantry welcoming and accessible to anyone in need.

Our Impact

Since 2010, Feed1st has made impacts through…

192,704

pounds of non-perishable food

90,689

individuals served

6,449

pounds of fresh produce

11

total pantry sites

Fun Fact: Feed1st has distributed 91 tons of food in the last 14 years, which is the same weight as 58% of the Statue of Liberty!

Pantry Locations

FAQ

Why is there a food pantry inside of a hospital?

Although the hospital attracts patients from throughout the Midwest, its primary patient population is from the South Side of Chicago. Our communities experience some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the city – in some neighborhoods, more than half of the residents don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Food insecurity has been linked to negative health outcomes in both children and adults. Feed1st started in response to evidence from hospital staff suggesting that parents were going hungry at their child’s bedside. The food pantry aims to address the issue of food insecurity experienced by people in the University of Chicago Medicine community.

What is provided?

The food pantries offer non-perishable, shelf-stable food and, during the harvest season, fresh produce. Many pantries have a can opener and microwave nearby, and staff on each floor who work to ensure that family members have access to plates and silverware. We also provide take-home bags that families can use to take food home from the pantries.

Who can access Feed1st?

The food pantries are available to everyone in the medical center.

How does my family use Feed1st?

It is absolutely free to use the food pantries. The only request is that family members anonymously ‘sign in,’ by writing down the number of people eating food and their zip code. No identifying information is required and no limit is placed on the amount of food that may be taken. Sign-in data helps us describe the program’s impact to stakeholders.

Where does the food come from?

The majority of the food in the pantries comes from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. UChicago Medicine Garden Committee provides fresh produce during the harvest season.
The pantries are stocked on a regular basis by medical student volunteers from the Pritzker Medical School, University of Chicago Medicine volunteers and members of the Lindau Lab at the University of Chicago.

What if I have special dietary needs?

We regret that our ability to supply food is limited by what the Greater Chicago Food Depository has to offer at the time we make our monthly food purchase, and that requests for specific foods typically cannot be immediately met. However, if you have requests, please let us know by filling out a comment card (found in each pantry), and we will do our best to facilitate your request when we place our next order.

Feed1st Toolkit – 2024 Update!

Click here to download the Toolkit!

This downloadable PDF includes expert knowledge and tips on how to successfully launch an open access, self-serve food pantry program in your organization. The first version of this toolkit was developed with support from a grant to the University of Chicago Lindau Laboratory from the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation. This work was also supported in part by the Arthur Quern Fellowship Program at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy. This work was also supported in part by NIMHD R01MD012630. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Project News

NIH.gov recognizes Feed1st's story

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) highlights the impact of Feed1st on their website. The blog post showcases their exceptional contributions to Feed1st, an open-access food pantry at UChicago Medicine dedicated to combating food insecurity among patients and their families.

UChicago Medicine diners can round up food purchases to support hospital food pantries

The next time you eat at Sky Café, Café Central and the Kitchen at Billings, you’ll be able to make a small donation to help University of Chicago Medicine patients and their families who face food insecurity. Starting Oct. 2, customers will be given the option to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar to support Feed1st, the hospital-based program that runs 10 self-serve food pantry sites across the academic health system’s Hyde Park campus.

Grocery Brigade Provides Healthy Food to Fight Life-Altering Diseases

Dr. Ann Jackson partnered with Dr. Lindau and the leadership team of the cancer center to open a Feed1st pantry in the Comprehensive Cancer Center in November 2017 which served patients, caregivers and the hospital community. In 2020, she founded The Center for Food Equity in Medicine, which provides healthy food and other services for people across the south suburbs and Chicago who have been diagnosed with life-altering health conditions such as cancer. The non-profit organization has served more than 8,000 people and almost 2,000 households.

Hospital Food Pantries Serve Staff, Patients, Caregivers, and Family

Across the country, families waiting at sick children’s bedsides continue to struggle with food insecurity, access to transportation, housing, and financial support. Founded on the principle that anyone in the hospital community can take as much food as they need for themselves and for others, the Feed1st pantry serves hospital staff, patients, caregivers, and family. On one comment card, a woman wrote that the pantry had been a lifesaver, since she did not have any other source of food while her husband was going through cancer treatment. On another, someone wrote that the model helped them, because they were not necessarily ready to admit they needed help with food access.

Open access or referral only: Health systems take different approaches to food pantry programs

In its study, UChicago Medicine noted that Boston Medical Center reported a decrease in food procured and families served from March to August 2020 compared to before the pandemic. During the same period, Feed1st’s open-access model saw a 27% increase in food distribution.

Neighbors Can Get Free Food, Personal Care Items At New Roseland Community Hospital Pantry

Roseland Reserve Initiative, launching Feb. 14, will offer food and toiletries for neighbors to take home, organizers said. Chrislin Flanagan, executive director of the Roseland Community Hospital Foundation, was inspired to start the Roseland Reserve Initiative after seeing one in action at University of Chicago Medical Center, where she underwent open heart surgery last year.

"Hospital Food Pantries Serve Staff, Patients, Caregivers, and Family"

Hear from a Feed1st patron and our founder about the role of Feed1st during the pandemic.

Feed1st Pritzker Medical

Student Board 

Feed1st would not be possible without the support of our Pritzker Medical Student Board. The Board consists of four positions for M1s: President, Quality Assurance Lead, and two Volunteer Coordinators. There is also one M2 advisor who has served on a previous Feed1st Board. The Board is responsible for coordinating all Feed1st volunteers who stock the pantry sites, including other medical students, undergraduates, AmeriCorps volunteers, and other hospital volunteers. They help monitor the volunteers, ensuring that pantry sites are stocked correctly, shift are accurately reported, and the pantry sites are staying clean and safe. Read more about the Feed1st Board and other volunteers here!

Contact Us

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