Healing families with nutritious food

November 15, 2016

When single mom Seswaness Eaglepipe and her two daughters were suffering from migraines and nausea, she went to the Providence Family Medicine clinic in Portland, Ore. for help. The medical assistant asked her if she worries about not having enough money to buy food.  “I did feel guilty as a parent knowing at the end of the month that my children were a little bit hungrier,” she said.

Screening helps 125 families put food on the table

Asking patients if they have access to nutritious food is part of the Screen and Intervene program at two Providence Family Medicine Residency Clinics in Oregon. Since 2014, the program has screened over a thousand families and helped 125 of them enroll in assistance services.

With community partners, Impact NW and Familias en Accion, Providence connects families struggling to put food on the table with local services such as the Providence Milwaukie community teaching kitchen and food pharmacy, as well as food subsidies, like SNAP or WIC. Asking patients about hurdles they face in their health and wellness has also helped open doors to other essential services, including housing, health insurance and more.

Nutrition is the foundation of health

After screening and intervention, Eaglepipe has learned to cook nutritious meals and feels like a great mom. “My kids are waking up better in the morning, my daughter is doing excellent in school. I do believe that nutrition is a good factor for them,” she said. 

The Screen and Intervene program is made possible thanks to a network of support, including the Meyer Memorial Trust, Providence’s community benefit contributions and donations from the Providence Milwaukie Foundation totaling about $250,000.

Providence’s assessment of community health needs discovered that Oregon continues to be the only state with rising rates of food insecurity. Across Oregon, nearly one in six households were recently lacking access to nutritious food, causing families to regularly skip meals. In response, Providence Milwaukie Hospital operates a community teaching kitchen and food pharmacy in addition to the Screen and Intervene program.