When you see your healthcare provider, imagine food being as important as medicine. Many families that come to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland for care rely on inexpensive, processed foods because healthy foods are unavailable or inaccessible in their communities. With a focus on prevention, physicians and other health care providers at our hospital have made the connection between food insecurity and children's health and well-being for many years.

The Center for Child & Community Health (CCCH) has taken steps to address this serious health issue, sponsoring several projects as part of its Food as Medicine program. In 2017, CCCH served more than 4,200 people through this effort.

We partner with the Alameda County Community Food Bank and Phat Beets Farms to provide two Food Farmacy markets per month. Families that receive care at Children's can get fresh produce, meats, eggs and whole grains – all free of charge – and sign up for CalFresh benefits. Find out more about our Food Farmacy markets.

We also offer online cookbooks in English and Spanish, as well as online videos that help families prepare healthy food.

Food as medicine studies

Research is an important component of CCCH’s Food as Medicine program. This effort is ongoing. Here’s an example of our work in this area:

Home food delivery

  • CCCH was funded by Alameda County in 2017 to study the impact of home food deliveries on families with prediabetes that are living in poverty. In partnership with Phat Beets, participating families received boxes of fresh produce and whole grains along with links to cooking demonstrations and recipes for preparing foods in a variety of ethnic traditions. The 2017 Food as Medicine study was effective in changing eating behaviors.
  • Through funding from Battery Powered, CCCH scaled up its Food as Medicine study in 2018. CCCH is working with local pediatric health care providers to “prescribe” home deliveries of healthy foods from local farms to families that screened as positive for food insecurity and are in need of better nutrition.