Capital Area Food Bank and Children’s National Hospital launched a pilot program, hosted by the Diabetes and Endocrinology teams at Children’s National, that will enable children with prediabetes and diabetes who are experiencing food insecurity to leave their visits with nutritious groceries from an on-site “food pharmacy.”
“We know that good food and good health are deeply interconnected, especially for young people,” said Radha Muthiah, president and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank. “For children whose families may not always have the resources to get a nutritious meal on the table, all kinds of health challenges can emerge, including diabetes. We’re proud to be partnering with Children’s National on an initiative that will enable brighter futures for kids by making healthy groceries available right at the point of care.”
The goal of the food pharmacy program is to improve patient health by creating easy access to foods that help with the management of diabetes, and to reduce barriers to routine attendance at clinic appointments by co-locating food assistance with medical care. Children diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes (Types 1 and 2) who also screen positive for food insecurity are given a prescription for medically-tailored groceries, which can be filled immediately on site. The supply includes both produce and shelf-stable items. Families are also provided with information about where to find additional help obtaining food, along with nutrition education materials.”
Rates of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes in children have been rapidly increasing in the past years, partly a consequence of the epidemic of childhood obesity. These conditions disproportionally impact children of African and Hispanic descent and those coming from low-income families, according to Elizabeth Estrada, M.D., director of the Type 2 Diabetes Program at Children’s National Hospital.
“Healthy eating is crucial in the treatment and prevention of these conditions, but many of our families lack access to nutritious food,” said Dr. Estrada. “The partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank to establish a food pharmacy within the diabetes clinic allows us to not only help our patients and families with recommendations for healthy eating, but also provides them with the foods they need to prepare nutritious meals.”
Through the initiative, the Capital Area Food Bank and Children’s National aim to reach up to 120 unique families per month, providing each household with 35 pounds of food per visit over the course of a year.