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Food Pantry Selection Driven by Health Need

My Friends House, Inc.

Nonprofit

Many Food Pantries in Los Angeles are well supplied due to outstanding Regional Food Banks and generous restaurants. How well matched is the food to the true nutritional needs of food pantry clients? By searching medical records, emergency room visits, and doing blood tests, our goal is to identify true nutritional deficiencies and work to meet that specific need.



Please describe the mission of your organization.

My Friends House works to improve nutrition and wellness in South Los Angeles. We offer a healthy food pantry, healthy cooking classes, nurse screen clinics, and an urban garden.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project or new program

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

Even though we are not initiating this project as a formal collaboration, we may be working with several partners. Dignity Health - California Hospital Medical Center has provided us with nurses for our screening clinics. We are expanding out collaboration with WellCare Health Plans. Los Angele County Department of Public Health will be a potential partner. Public Health Programs at USC and UCLA will also be potential partners.

What is the need you’re responding to?

We know that socio-economic challenges have health impact. Many urban communities have high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease. Can these and other health problem be connected to chronic deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. New research continues to improve the importance of micronutrients in overall health. A British medical study found trends of vitamin B1 and vitamin C deficiencies in homeless persons with problematic drinking. Can we better identify nutritional deficiencies in a South Los Angeles Community and address them during Food Pantry distributions?

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

My Friends House has never settled with just giving out food. Our mission is not just Food but “Wellness.” We know that just providing clients with food calories is not enough; the food must be healthy. We strive every week to provide a range of fresh and healthy food items. We know that even if the client leaves the Food Pantry with fresh vegetables, fish, and lean meats, if they cook at home by frying and using a lot of salt and butter, it will limit the impact on overall wellness. We also teach healthy cooking classes.
My Friends House has been helping the community since 1995. We are well-established, well-known, and trusted. One potential problem is resistance to medical testing that may existing with Blacks and with the un-housed. We expect the trust we have with our clients will help overcome this.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

2,000
Direct impact
200,000
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Policy Decisions are becoming more data driven. Medical treatments are becoming highly targeted; breast cancer treatments vary based on the specific of the tumors. Can Food Pantry offerings become better targeted to the clientele they serve? Our clients have a wide, multi-category demographic profile. We serve demographics that include seniors, families with young children, un-housed, college students, unemployed, substance abuse, high blood pressure, cardiac disease, diabetes, and asthma. As nutrition become more actively managed for the general population, why can the marginalized populations which visit food pantries benefit from food choices matched to their medically determined needs.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

We expect to find measurable nutritional deficiencies in our food pantry clients and in the Crenshaw/Slauson Community. We will share our results at Food Bank Conferences, with public health officials, with medical professional, and with academic researchers. We hope that it may make slight changes in the foods which are emphasized by the Food Bank and local Food Pantries. It may trigger a push for supplemental vitamins and enriched food. We realize that 12 months is a short time to see community nutritional changes. But if data from the end of the 12 months is compared to beginning of the twelve months, we hope to see improvements.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Access to healthy food
  • Food insecurity
  • Homelessness

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Host public events or gatherings
  • Communications support
  • Strategy assistance and implementation

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