Over the last year, we have partnered with an organization called Teen Xpress to help get food into households of Orange County teens experiencing food insecurity. Teen Xpress, a program of the Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, is a mobile health unit that provides free medical and mental health care, as well as nutrition counseling, to at-risk youth in Orange County neighborhoods.
The “teen pack” is composed of a variety of non-perishable food items such as peanut butter, jelly, rice, tuna, shelf-stable milk, and canned fruits and vegetables.
Teen Xpress Program Manager, Rita Soza-Vento, shared that the teen pack “has allowed kids to see what a healthy portioned size meal looks like. Many of the kids who we identified as needing the teen pack through the mobile unit were diagnosed with iron deficiency. The teen pack addressed and improved many of their iron levels as many of our kids were not eating. It served as either a meal replacement or provided a snack during the day.”
Teen packs are hand delivered by Teen Xpress’s Community Care Coordinator to the teens’ homes. This home-delivered approach helps the program connect with the teens’ families and reduces the stigma associated with being a food recipient.
Since the start of this partnership, Teen Xpress has distributed more than 1,000 teen packs to Orange County teens in the Parramore and Pine Hills neighborhoods. The teen pack is a component of Teen Xpress’s Healthy Me Initiative, which teaches youth how to make healthy choices within their environment. To read more about Teen Xpress, click here.
Maria Ali, RD, LD/N