Pediatric Interns Work with Food Bank to Narrow Nutritional Gap Among Food Insecure Kids

2016 Orlando Health’s Arnold Palmer Hospital internsAt Second Harvest, we are keenly aware of the link between health and hunger, especially among children. As part of our ongoing effort to collaborate with community partners, pediatric interns from Orlando Health’s Arnold Palmer Hospital have been visiting one of our 19Kids Cafe” Children’s Afterschool Feeding locations for the last two years. The goal is to learn more about the communities where asset limited, low-income and resource poor families live. The twice monthly visits help interns glean valuable insight into the circumstances that may lead to health problems among the young.

Dr. Kristy Wesinghan, from Orlando Health, describes it this way:

“In October, 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement urging pediatricians to screen all patients for food insecurity and to familiarize themselves with local food banks and federal nutrition programs. According to the report, sixteen million US children (21%) live in households without consistent access to adequate food, and these children are “more likely to be sick more often, recover from illness more slowly, and be hospitalized more frequently.” In response, Arnold Palmer Hospital has developed an Advocacy rotation called In-the-Zone, through which pediatric residents are able to learn more about food insecurity, both in the US and in Central Florida, as well as have the opportunity to tour and volunteer with Second Harvest Food Bank and one of their Kids Cafes.

Residents have described their sessions as informative, stating that they have become much more aware of food insecurity and how it might impact their patient population. They state that they are now more likely to screen children for food insecurity, feel more comfortable talking with families about food insecurity, and feel empowered to actually be able to help when families present as food insecure, directing them to resources like Second Harvest.”

In the Zone is just one more way that Second Harvest actively explores exciting, mutually beneficial ideas and opportunities to not only help feed hungry children, but to contribute to their overall wellbeing.

  • Child Hunger is a Health problem.
  • Child Hunger is a Social  problem
  • Child Hunger is an Economic problem.
  • Child Hunger is an Educational problem
  • Child Hunger is a Workforce and job readiness problem
  • Child Hunger can lead to significant life-long problems.
  • Child Hunger negatively affects the probability of a child realizing his or her full potential into adulthood.
  • Child Hunger results in higher health care expenditures.
  • Food insecurity has been associated with developmental risk in the first three years of life. (Rose-Jacobs, et al., 2008).
  • Longer term issues include poor emotional health and school engagement, poor reading performance and impaired social skills.  (National Survey of American Families, 1999; Jvoti, Frongillo & Jones 2005).
  • “Young children who experienced food insecurity as infants and toddlers are at a significant developmental disadvantage upon entering kindergarten.”  (Children’s HealthWatch, 2012)
  • “Inadequate nutrition can permanently alter a child’s brain architecture and stunt their intellectual capacity, affecting the child’s learning, social interaction and productivity.” (Feeding America, 2013)

By working together we can narrow the “nutritional gap” and food insecurity facing one in five Central Florida Children.

To learn more about Second Harvest’s Childhood Hunger Programs, follow this link.


Santos Maldonado
Childhood Hunger Programs Manager

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