In 2005, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia established an initiative called the Healthy Weight Program in response to the growing number of patients facing childhood obesity and related conditions. The program advances the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity by integrating excellence in clinical care, research, quality education and community advocacy. Patients enrolled are overweight and obese, between two and 18 years of age. In 2018, GIANT Food Stores provided CHOP a grant of $173,500 to further the program by starting an innovative food bank or food pharmacy in the Healthy Weight Program. On January 23, 2019, CHOP held a grand opening at its West Philadelphia location for its Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy, the first pediatric hospital-based food bank in the country. In collaboration with Philabundance (another of GIANT’s longstanding partners), the pharmacy focuses on offering nutritious foods to participants in the Healthy Weight Program. Families who identify as “very food insecure” can choose from foods from five categories: fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy and grains. They are given three days’ worth of food. In addition, they are referred to a social worker to receive further support and resources.
Each year, GIANT customers raise funds for the hospital through an in-store Children’s Miracle Network fundraising campaign. In 22 years, GIANT has helped contribute $18 million in donations, including $5 million toward the construction of CHOP’s Beurger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care. Likewise, in celebration of GIANT’s new GIANT Heirloom Market in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of Philadelphia, GIANT is donating a portion of each bag of One Village coffee sold to CHOP. GIANT President Nicholas Bertram serves on CHOP’s Corporate Council and is committed to continuing the partnership between GIANT and CHOP for years to come.
CHOP’s Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy is designed to help decrease food insecurity in low-income neighborhoods. 21% of Philadelphia residents are food insecure, and with food insecurity being a risk factor for obesity, many families do not have access to healthy foods, and junk food is often cheaper and more convenient. Families seen in Healthy Weight are screened at every appointment for food insecurity through a two question survey on an iPad. Families either fall into one of two groups: “very food insecure” or “food insecure.” Families who are identified as “food insecure” may experience insecurity sporadically, but not on a consistent basis. Families who have experienced food insecurity at some point, but do not need food immediately, are urged to share the details of their experience. They then receive a follow-up phone call from a social worker to be connected to the appropriate resources. Families who are “very food insecure” may not have eaten recently and do not know from where or when their next meal will come. These families will immediately be connected with the Food Pharmacy to take home food that day. Families can choose from five categories: fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy and grains. They are given three days’ worth of food. In addition, they are referred to a social worker to receive further support and resources.
In January 2018, the Healthy Weight program implemented universal screening for food insecurity at every patient visit. Families found to be experiencing food insecurity are referred to the onsite Food Pharmacy where they will receive a three-day supply of healthy food and are connected to additional resources to address their needs. A quality improvement subcommittee composed of clinical and administrative staff was developed to monitor food insecurity screening rates and identify improvement projects. From January 2018 to February 2019, food insecurity screening was verbally administered by the medical assistant during the vitals intake process. In March of 2019, with funds from the grant, CHOP was able to purchase three iPads to implement electronic food insecurity screening administered during the check-in process. The use of the iPad improved the clinical process flow for screening and allowed patients to privately disclose their food security status. When compared with data from March to June of the previous year, this process improvement strategy increased food insecurity screening rates from 68% to 97% and increased the identification of food insecure patients from 12.5% to 26.6%. 97% of Food Pharmacy families report having children in the home between the ages of 5-17 and 14% report having children in the home under the age of 5. 13% of households reported living with one or more older adults over the age of 60. Since September 2018, the Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy has supported over 775 individuals from 209 household by distributing nearly 5,000 pounds of food.
“This first-of-its-kind food pharmacy is the textbook definition of innovation. I’m thrilled we were able to collaborate with our longstanding partners – CHOP and Philabundance, as we helped fund a unique solution to the food insecurity found all too prevalently in Philadelphia.” – GIANT Food Stores President Nicholas Bertram
In fall 2018, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) was proud launch the first pediatric, hospital-based food pharmacy to promote healthy nutrition and address food insecurity. With funding from GIANT Food Stores, CHOP opened the Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy, a food bank and education center in West Philadelphia. Patient families participating in the Healthy Weight Program are asked about food insecurity during every visit. Those found to be experiencing food insecurity are referred to the onsite food pharmacy. The Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy provides families with a three-day supply of healthy food, connects them to community resources to address their food needs, and provides support and education to help families eat healthily on a budget. -Julia Wicoff, Director, Cause Marketing and Children's Miracle Network