Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Announces Opening of New Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy at its Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pediatric Care Center

Published on in CHOP News

Food delivery service in local neighborhood Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is proud to announce the expansion of its Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy to a second location at the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pediatric Care Center, located at 4865 Market St. in West Philadelphia. The aim of the new location is to increase food access to more patient families, while also providing ongoing support to identify and address broader social determinants of health. The new Food Pharmacy 2.0 is a part of CHOP’s Healthier Together Initiative. Launched in 2019, Healthier Together focuses on some of the most pressing health and economic needs in neighborhoods surrounding the hospital’s campus.

“For our initial experiences, we know that food insecurity and other important social determinants of health, like housing and mental health support, affect many more families than those we see in the Healthy Weight Program,” said Saba Khan, MD, Medical Director of the CHOP Food Pharmacy. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem of food insecurity and introduced it to many more families in West Philadelphia. This is one way we can help our neighbors get the support they need to have healthy, fulfilling lives.”

In order to determine their eligibility for the program, patients will be screened for food insecurity during the check-in process at select well visits. Families that identify as food-insecure will then receive a three-day supply of dry food to help address their immediate food needs. After the initial supply of dry food, families will receive a box of fresh produce once a month for up to 6 months to address ongoing needs.

CHOP will collaborate with Food Connect to offer home delivery of the healthy food boxes to maintain public health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as provide convenient food access for patients. Participants will also be invited to complete a social needs assessment and receive short-term case management to address identified needs.
“Because food insecurity intersects with other social determinants of health, the Food Pharmacy team also screens patients for co-existing social needs and connects them to appropriate resources,” said Alonzo South, Senior Director of Community Engagement at CHOP. “We know that many of our families report having housing issues, difficulty paying their utility bills, and transportation challenges. These experiences reinforce that our families are dealing with competing needs that make it difficult to prioritize healthy living.”

“We estimate that the new Food Pharmacy program will enroll up to 300 unique families in the first year, with a goal to reach about 1,000 people with this program,” said Dr. Khan.

In 2019, with the help of funding from The GIANT Company, CHOP launched its first pediatric, hospital-based, Healthy Weight Program Food Pharmacy to increase access to healthy foods, and promote nutrition among families experiencing food insecurity. There, families are screened for food insecurity, referred to the on-site Food Pharmacy, and receive a three-day supply of food for the entire family. They are also provided information and referrals to community resources and benefit programs. As of January 2021, the Food Pharmacy has enrolled 325 patients and distributed more than 9,000 lbs. of food.

”Since first becoming involved with the Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy program in 2019, we’ve seen firsthand the powerful impact it is having in the community,” said Nicholas Bertram, President, The GIANT Company. “As a company passionate about changing children’s lives and eliminating hunger, helping to expand access to this life-changing program to families in additional neighborhoods in Philadelphia is something we’re glad to be able to do.”

This latest program expansion was made possible with the help of an additional $100,000 donation from The GIANT Company, which has enabled CHOP’s Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy to triple food access for families, from once to three times every three months, inclusive of both fresh and dry goods.

Contact: Joey McCool Ryan, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, (267) 258-6735 or mccool@chop.edu