This summer, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital partnered with the Ravenswood School District to serve a total of 13,000 meals to families classified as homeless, meaning they live in a shelter or double up with another family.
In an Inside Stanford Medicine story published today, Lisa Chamberlain, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, explains the motivation for creating the program:
We’ve been seeing so much food insecurity over the last three years with the recession ... Last fall and winter it was getting so much worse. That’s when we decided to try the lunch program. We’ve never tried anything on this scale before.
For the five-week project, Chamberlain and her team contracted with the local nonprofit Revolution Foods to provide lunches for families five days a week. Chamberlain also worked closely with Ruth Woods, director of student services for the Ravenswood district, to identify which families to serve. Woods and Chamberlain started by reaching out to those families, and then broadening the program to include any local families with children who needed a meal.
Further down in the story, Chamberlain discusses why she and project organizers decided to serve entire families and Woods describes how the program impacted more than just families' nutrition:
National statistics show that more Americans than ever are on food stamps. The Department of Agriculture, which runs the National School Lunch Program, provides some funding to help keep school lunch programs for low-income children operating in the summer. However, parents or older relatives may themselves be hungry, and this can deeply impact the family’s health and well-being. “I knew this program had to be for the whole family,” said Chamberlain. “So we had to raise our own money to ensure that we could do a program that served the whole family.”
Woods said the program also helped increase communication and quality time among family members. “With this program, families get to eat together,” she said. “We take this for granted — families sitting down and eating together. That doesn’t happen a lot with these families. So we started talking to families about taking the food home, sitting down with their kids and talking about their day. This provides communication, and really brings families together.”
Previously: Doctors tackling child hunger during the summer
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben/ Lucile Packard Children's Hospital