February 10, 2023

Food Security icon Food Security

It’s hard for me to believe that I have now been practicing medicine for twenty years. Every day has been a gift …It has been and continues to be an honor to be a part of my patients’ lives.

I serve patients in a community health center in Redwood City, where many struggle to manage their chronic diseases in the face of financial insecurity that often requires them to work multiple low-paying jobs. As their primary care provider, I thought my role was to educate and partner with my patients on their continued journey of well-being. I would draw simple diagrams explaining what high blood pressure and high blood sugar can do to the body. It took me nearly two decades of practicing medicine before I realized that many of my patients lacked access to the very foods I was advising them to eat.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, our clinic decided to screen everyone for food insecurity. We found that close to 20 percent of patients who came through our doors worried about having enough food to eat. When we delved deeper, we found that even more did not have access to the nutritious foods that we often instructed them to eat. I’ll never forget when my patient, whom I had known for 8 years, told me that he felt ashamed to admit that he did not have enough food for himself and his family. I was disappointed that I did not think to ask and understand what his circumstances were. I missed what was right in front of me. Despite having the theoretical understanding that nutrition is so foundational to health and wellness, I was not doing enough to identify and address one of the root causes of chronic disease that many of my patients faced. I became passionate about finding strategies to address food...

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