Letter from the Founder

Welcome to Feed1st.

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. Some of your patients are not taking their medicine or following your recommendations because they have to save their money to put food on the table for their children. Parents sleeping at their child’s hospital bedside are not disinterested in their child. They are hungry. They don’t want to eat in front of their child who is nauseated from their chemotherapy or who is restricted from eating due to their illness and they don’t trust that their child will be ok if they leave the bedside. These are facts we know from caring for hungry people and from studying hunger in the healthcare setting.

Feed1st was created in 2010 to address the problem of hunger in our children’s hospital – a problem raised by our chaplain. Our approach was “feed first, ask questions later.” We set up a food distribution system and then we studied the problem. Feed1st continues to grow. Today, we operate pantry sites on nearly every floor of Comer Children’s Hospital, two sites in the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, one site in the Adult Emergency Department, and one in the Center for Care and Discovery at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The first priority of Feed1st is to feed hungry people, no questions asked. No barriers. Self-serve. 24/7/365. The Feed1st model is a receive and give model. Everyone who is hungry can take as much food as they need. Everyone who can give back has a way to contribute. Some beneficiaries of Feed1st give food. Some help stock shelves. Others give advice or leave notes of thanks. Feed1st alleviates hunger with dignity, without stigma, and with the belief that everyone has something to contribute to solving the hunger problem.

Thanks for Feed1st goes to many, including the University of Chicago Medicine for using its community benefit dollars to provide space and other support to grow our pantries. Reverend Karen Hutt, the hospital chaplain, who noticed the hunger problem and reached out for partnership. Thanks to Doriane Miller, MD who raised the issue to me and to the Pritzker School of Medicine students who responded to my call for help. 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. 

Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, MAPP

June 5, 2019