Food Insecurity

“If you work at a place that cares for people’s health, like a hospital, a pediatrics office or a community health center, then you are caring for people who are hungry. You have patients who are worried about where they will get their next meal.”

Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, Feed1st Toolkit (June 5, 2019)

Makelarski et al 2015

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity is a serious risk factor that affects health. Among children, food insecurity is associated with developmental problems, hospitalization, and emergency department utilization. Among adults, food insecurity is linked to mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety, and chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension. Food insecurity exists inside and outside of the walls of a medical center. In 2011, we conducted a cross-sectional needs assessment study with 200 participants. We found that 32% of parents or other caregivers of children hospitalized at Comer Children’s Hospital were going hungry during their child’s hospital stay, and 44% were food-insecure in the 12 months before the child’s hospitalization. To address this problem, in 2012 UChicago Medicine provided us and the Feed1st program with its first self-serve pantry space in a free access family room space on an inpatient unit. We now operate 11 open-access food pantries at the medical center. Additionally, we are conducting a double-blind randomized controlled trial to evaluate the ability of CommunityRx to reduce food insecurity among caregivers of children hospitalized at Comer Children’s hospital.

Project News

Feed1st, No Questions Asked: How a Hospital-Based Food Pantry Program Grew Its Impact During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Read about the impact of Feed1st, our no-questions-asked, self-serve food pantry program at a Chicago, Illinois, medical center,

Diagnostic Accuracy of Two Food Insecurity Screeners Recommended for Use in Health Care Settings

Read our study about the diagnostic accuracy of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended food insecurity screener.

Feed first, ask questions later: Alleviating and understanding caregiver food insecurity in an urban children's hospital

Read about our study that estimated the prevalence of caregiver hospital food insecurity and proposals to remedy to this problem.

Building Community-Engaged Health Research and Discovery Infrastructure on the South Side of Chicago: Science in Service to Community Priorities

Read about the roles community members can and should play in, and an asset-based strategy used by Chicago’s South Side Health and Vitality Studies for, building sustainable, large-scale community health research infrastructure.