HONEY BROOK FOOD PANTRY DINNER TO COMBAT HUNGER
Special guest Dr. Hans Kersten will be speaking at the Honey Brook Food Pantry Dinner on April 29th. Dr. Kersten is a 2016 semifinalist for the BeWellPhilly Health Hero Challenge.
Dr. Kersten is a leader for hunger-free initiatives at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children (SCHC), the Philadelphia region and nationally.
Hunger Free Healthcare Model:
SCHC has developed the Hunger-Free Healthcare model through several innovative initiatives over the past 5 years in order to help combat food insecurity in the community. St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is situated in an area where children and families have experienced food insecurity. The Hunger-Free Healthcare model enables providers to SPEAC for children/families by:
S–screening for food insecurity and other social determinants of health;
P–providing resources for families;
A–advocating for patients and families;
C–caring for patients in traditional and innovative ways (e.g. creating multidisciplinary teams (Grow Team) to evaluate and treat children with failure to thrive).
The initiatives developed help them SPEAC for children by discovering which social determinants of health affect families and then taking the opportunity to address them in creative ways that can impact their health and well-being.
Screening - St. Chris was one of the first hospitals to screen for food insecurity in the Philadelphia region. Over the last five years, we have incorporated the 2-item questionnaire into the practice and screened over 12,000 patients for food insecurity during well-child and acute care visits. Food insecurity screening is also done in the emergency department and with hospitalized patients. Families that screen positive are able to be provided resources with some of the innovative programs outlined below.
Farm to Families –Dr. Kersten and his team oversee a program called Farm to Families/FreshRX at SCHC. This program was created by St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children and supplies North Philadelphia families, as well as local hospital staff with weekly subsidized boxes of local, organic fresh produce. Providers directly link families to the program by writing a prescription (FreshRX) for a box of food in the exam room. Farm to Families provides food and nutrition education at the distribution site, including food budgeting and shopping tips, basic food preparation and cooking skills, and demonstrations and taste tests, aligned with the weekly boxes. Farm to Families is open to all with no income restrictions. The produce comes from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, a collective of 100 organic farmers in Lancaster County, and has been a key partner in this initiative. Over 6,000 boxes of produce have been distributed at the hospital and over 48,000 distributed in North Philadelphia.
Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) - Since 2011, Dr. Kersten has worked with the Legal Clinic for the Disabled in Philadelphia to help bring free legal aid to vulnerable families in the St. Christopher’s Primary Care center. The MLP has ensured a full time lawyer embedded within the medical home for more than 25,000 children and their families. Legal Clinic Attorneys work with families to address social determinants of health that are legal in nature. MLP attorneys have provided services to more than 2,800 families and opened 1055 cases for direct representation in a range of matters including divorce, custody, child support, evictions, land lord tenant disputes, public benefits, children’s SSI, special education and advanced planning for children with special healthcare needs transitioning to adulthood. Over the last two years the MLP team was able to help some families receive more than $110,000 in additional public benefits, including SNAP benefits. In addition to helping patient families apply for these benefits, MLP attorneys regularly advocate with administrative agencies to correct a wrongful reduction or termination of benefits.
CUC Summer Meals Program – Troubled by the fact that children go hungry in the summertime without the school meals program Dr. Kersten’s team started serving free, nutritious meals to patients visiting the CUC through Philadelphia’s Summer Meals Program. This program is funded by the USDA, administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and sponsored by the Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. St. Christopher’s is the first and only pediatric hospital in Philadelphia to partner with NDS as a designated site for this impressive program which has more than 1,000 participating sites in the area. St. Chris distributed 1,085 meals during the five week pilot.
St. Chris Turkey Drive - For six years, St. Christopher’s employees and community members, led by Dr. Kersten, have donated money and volunteer hours throughout the month of November to benefit less fortunate families at St. Christopher’s. All of the money raised goes toward buying complete Thanksgiving dinners, including a turkey, stuffing, cabbage, celery, eggs, clementines and potatoes. Since its inception, the turkey dinner drive has provided turkey dinners to more than 2,000 families.
WIC Office – Dr. Kersten advocated with the local WIC office as well as the hospital and was successful to bring the WIC office back to the hospital to ease access to this important service for our families. Over the last year, access has been increasing for this important service; more than 300 visits per month and over 1,300 total visits occurred as a result of this collaboration.
Other community support programs that Dr. Hans Kersten was instrumental in launching include:
Bike Rodeo– For four years, Dr. Kersten has led the bike rodeo at St. Christopher’s. The bike rodeo looks to get children excited about being active. SCHC partner’s with community organizations to offer a variety of services for children and families. 6-12-year-olds can spend a Saturday morning learning to be healthier and safer. All participants receive a new helmet and bike safety check. Children also actively participate in games, learn bike riding tips, riding skills and can ride on a number of bicycle obstacle courses in the hospital parking lot. Families are offered healthy snacks throughout the event.
Reach Out and Read – Over the past 15 years, Dr. Kersten has been instrumental is starting and sustaining a literacy program calledReach Out and Read. This program is recognized as the premier early literacy program in the United States, prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. With new books being prescribed by doctors during well-child visits for 6-month-olds to 5-year-olds, parents were four times more likely to read aloud to their children. Children who participated in the program showed significant developmental gains in language and scored higher on vocabulary tests and school readiness assessments, critical for success in school. In the past year, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children has distributed over 13,000 new books to children and over 10,000 used books donated by local schools and community organizations.
Dr. Kersten is asked to speak around the country and in other countries on these initiatives. His most recent addition to this list is introducing ‘Fresh Fruit Fridays’ at the hospital starting this month.