Story by: Joe Hall on October 6, 2016
While performing an exam on a new patient at Norton Children’s Hospital Medical Associates – Broadway last fall, pediatrician Erin R. Frazier, M.D., learned that the teen, along with her mom and sister, had just arrived in Louisville after escaping a bad situation. They were practically homeless and didn’t know where their next meal would come from.
“As I finished the checkup, the mom asked if we had any food vouchers,” Dr. Frazier said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have anything readily available. We did end up helping the family, but we had to scramble.”
That started a change. Dr. Frazier and her colleagues Becky S. Carothers, M.D., and Nancee Spillman, APRN, teamed up with Dare to Care Food Bank to open a food pantry in their pediatric practice.
Norton Children’s Hospital Medical Associates – Broadway now takes a proactive approach to identifying which families are battling hunger. As part of all wellness visits, patients are asked a couple of basic questions to determine if they have food insecurities (a fear of running out of food).
“Our job is to treat the whole patient, and food and proper nutrition are a big part of physical and mental health,” Spillman said. “It turns out we see multiple patients and families each week who are facing this hardship.”
The pantry stocks healthy options such as cereals low in sugar, brown rice, nuts, spices, canned fruit in natural juices and canned vegetables with no added salt.
“We are always promoting good eating habits, so we need to make sure that’s what we’re providing,” Dr. Frazier said. “We also have foods that are helpful to people battling conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems.”
The food pantry program already is drawing rave reviews.
“Our families — even the ones who don’t have food insecurities — are so appreciative that we even ask,” Dr. Carothers said. “And the ones that do really are grateful that we have their backs during such a time of despair and uncertainty. It’s great we can make a difference.”
To learn more about local food pantry programs, visit DareToCare.org.
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