Feeding Families Through CHOP's Refugee Health Program

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Two employees packing produce boxes As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact all of us, CHOP employees are finding ways to help our communities. The CHOP Refugee Health Program is currently providing culturally appropriate food boxes, sanitation supplies and cloth face masks to low-income refugee families in South Philadelphia with financial support from the CHOP COVID-19 Response Grant Program. The initiative, called Culturally Appropriate Food Boxes and Nutrition Education for Refugees, is led by the physicians from the Refugee Health Program in response to the increased need for food assistance in an already vulnerable population. The majority of refugees in South Philadelphia are low-income hourly wage workers who are currently unable to work due to the pandemic. In addition, shopping has become a difficult task due to quarantine and limited English proficiency.

The initiative is an excellent example of community organizations coming together to help community members in need. The Refugee Health Program is partnering with two local agencies and Sate Kampar restaurant to implement this initiative. The Bhutanese American Organization and Mural Arts Philadelphia  are helping to identify families in need. Mural Arts Philadelphia is also providing cloth face masks made by their refugee women's sewing group. Ange Branca, owner of Sate Kampar Malaysian restaurant, is assisting with the purchase of culturally appropriate food items. She has also been able to source good quality fresh vegetables for free that have been added to the food boxes. Feedback from food box recipients is communicated through the community organizations to ensure that the food items provided are appropriate.

In addition to partnering with local agencies and restaurants, the Refugee Health Program is receiving weekly support from CHOP employees. Every Sunday, Refugee Health Program staff, community partners, and CHOP employee volunteers gather at Craft Hall in Philadelphia to assemble food items into boxes. So far, over 20 CHOP employees have volunteered and have assisted in assembling over 220 food boxes. After boxes are assembled, they are safely delivered to families by a refugee community member.

The initiative is scheduled to continue providing services until the end of September. Their efforts are not just providing fresh produce to those in need - it goes beyond that. It is helping alleviating the fear and stress that COVID-19 has brought to our refugee community members.