A new Avondale food pantry's unconventional location — inside the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Pediatric Primary Care Clinic — is helping doctors connect food-insecure families with help and healthcare at the same time.
Misty Wilson, whose family uses the clinic, was filling out the family well-being questionnaire at the beginning of a recent appointment when she spotted two new questions at the very top: Within the last 12 months, did you/your family worry whether your food would run out before you got the money or SNAP/food stamps to buy more? Within the last 12 months, did the food you/your family bought not last and you didn't have money to get more?
The answer to both was yes, she said, although it was difficult to admit.
"It's hard as a parent, it makes it hard to be able to admit you're having a difficult time providing basic needs for your children," she said.
The pantry was born from cooperation among the Freestore Foodbank, Kroger, Christ Church Cathedral and Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
"We think of food as a medicine," Cincinnati Children's Hospital professor of pediatrics Melissa Klein said. "If you're not getting proper nutrition, you can't concentrate in school...you can't reach your utmost potential."
Dr. Klein says the clinic will provide food to a family if of a patient if they indicate having enough to eat is an issue.
"You're here for your child's shots...you're here for your well check and you have food, and it's one stress or pressure that's taken off your plate," Klein said.
For Wilson, being able to take care of her three kids' medical needs and groceries in one place is convenient and cost-effective.
"That's my most important responsibility in the world, to give them a good life," she said. "Being able to provide basic needs for them. That is the most important thing anyone can do, and that feeling of being able to do that for your kids is amazing."