UC Health Family Medicine Center Food Pantry
The food pantry began in 2016 as a realization of the issues that food insecurity can have on people’s physical health and their mental wellbeing. The FMC staff wanted to help minimize food insecurity so they began handing out “emergency style” food bags with prebagged fresh and canned food from their staff breakroom. Since then, they have moved out of the staff breakroom and into Suite 109 – which they now take over the entirety of – and they’ve doubled the size of their cold storage space.
“We saw it as an opportunity to help our patients,” Dr. David Marchant the clinic’s medical director said. “Admittedly, there were some hurdles to overcome, but we felt that the need in the population was high enough, it was worth the effort. We all know that lifestyle dramatically impacts health, and if people are struggling to simply find any food to eat or are competing with paying for a medication or paying for food, their health will suffer.”
Now, the food pantry, distributes thousands of pounds of healthy food a week to members of the community that are experiencing food insecurity.
- 2015-2016 determine the need
- April 2017 FMC staff handed out their first "emergency style" bag of food. Prebagged selection of fresh and canned food. The "Pantry" was located in a staff breakroom.
- June 2017 the Pantry moved out of the staff breakroom and into Suite 109. It roughly occupied the size of two cubicles, and had one shelf and one fridge.
- We averaged 650 visits/month.
- January 2018 we had our first "expansion" and took over a few more cubicles.
- Late 2018 we expanded again and took over the entirety of Suite 109.
- January 2020 we doubled our cold storage space (new fridge and freezer!)
- COVID 2020 we stopped allowing shopping inside and switched to our current method of having clients fill out a predesigned list of food items on hand.
- March 2020 we went from a staff of 15 volunteers/students to 0.
- January 2021 we received funding for, and hired, our first part-time contract worker
- 2021 we averaged 875 visits/month
- January 2022 we were approved to hire our first part-time UCHealth employee addition.
In 2021, the food pantry has:
- Had 10,026 visits
- Served 1,641 unique households
- Served 4,474 unique individuals (this reflects all household members who benefit from food brought home from the pantry)
- Registered 477 new households at their location with 29% of them being new clients
- Received 4,063 pounds of bread donated from Great Harvest
- Had 11,756 pounds donated (including 5,952 pounds from UC Health employees during Nourishing November)
- Distributed 200,000 pounds of food (including over 70,000 pounds of fresh produce)
ETHNICITY OF CLIENTS:
Native American/American Indian 1%
AGE OF CLIENTS:
60+ = 28%
“I love all the veggies. I still love sweets every now and then, but I try and stick with the veggies,” says Ernest, a client of the Family Medical Clinic pantry since 2018.
Ernest is always watching what he eats, especially food that can increase his cholesterol count. “Potato chips are my weakness, so I try to avoid them as much as possible,” he says. “That’s why I like coming here; the food is really good – especially the produce. And by coming here I can save a little money." He also likes the community feel of the FMC pantry. “
The people here are really sensitive. You can tell they’re good people,” he says. “I’ve seen others come here looking for a specific food item and when they don’t have it, the staff feels really bad. I mean, they try hard to make sure there’s a lot of food for everyone.”
Jerry recently lost his wife and relocated to Colorado from North Carolina. He found out about the Food Bank and the Family Medical Clinic pantry from a friend.
“I’ve been coming for about a year,” Jerry says. “I shop about once a week and I love the rice, beans, and especially the vegetables.”
In addition to the fresh food and selection, Jerry really appreciates the staff at FMC. “Everyone here is very helpful,” he says. “They actually try and guide you to eat healthy food options.”
“The food I get here is so high-quality. Everyone in my household eats vegetables and I can get enough to last the week,” Wes says. "I pack them in my daughter's lunchbox, and she loves them."
Wes has been visiting the Family Medical Center pantry for about three years and says one of the reasons he shops there is the staff. “Laura is amazing,” he says. “During COVID she kept it together and kept everyone going. The entire staff is awesome.”
Even though he enjoys shopping at FMC, he does have one small request. “I miss the book stand,” he says. “I love to read, and I used to bring books in to donate and take a few to read myself. It was a great book exchange. I hope it comes back once the pandemic is over.”