Podcast: The fight against hunger in hospitals

Editor’s note: Knowledge Applied is a podcast from the University of Chicago. Each episode will take listeners inside the research of UChicago scholars helping reshape everyday life. The first season of Knowledge Applied will feature researchers tackling some of the biggest questions facing cities today.

For parents and caregivers, taking care of a sick child in the hospital is a nightmare. But for many families, they also must contend with the specter of hunger.

Prof. Stacy Lindau leads a program to help combat hunger called Feed1st. With six food pantries located throughout Comer Children’s Hospital, it is serving a profound solution in the fight against a condition known as “food insecurity.”

“Food insecurity is a technical term, and it means that an individual over a period of time can’t reasonably rely on access to basic nutritional sources or meet their nutritional needs in socially acceptable ways,” said Lindau, a physician and professor at Pritzker School of Medicine in the Departments of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Medicine-Geriatrics.

Although one in five U.S. households with children are food insecure, Lindau had no idea how rampant the problem was in hospitals until she was approached by a chaplain who witnessed families going hungry at the bedside of their sick child.

On this episode of Knowledge Applied, Lindau shares how she decided to address what she called a “real humanitarian need,” the benefits of food pantries, both for families as well as hospital staff, and how the program is providing critical data for future research. 

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