The goal of this project is to better understand how food systems and traditional health care services can work together to support the needs of food-insecure families. The Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) is a community health clinic located in the Central District of Seattle that provides low-income and predominately BIPOC families with free or low-cost medical, dental, mental health, and nutrition services. Addressing fundamental causes of ill health is a major focus of this clinic, and as a result they often partner with non-profit and governmental organizations to address basic needs such as food security and housing. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, when everything shut down at the start of the pandemic, OBCC staff pivoted to basic needs services, the primary of which was addressing food security. Staff working on this, or the “Food Brigade”, did this through a variety of approaches – e.g. partnering with other food systems stakeholders to gather food for home delivery and linking families to community-based organizations also providing food for families in need. Because of the current Black Lives Matter movement and increased awareness around systemic racism as the fundamental underlying driver of negative health outcomes, we expect (and hope) to see more health care systems focus on meeting the social needs (e.g., food security, housing) of patients as part of the basic standard of care. OBCC has been at the forefront of this movement for a long time. Our hope and reason for this proposal is to add on interviews with 1) OBCC clinic staff and 2) food-insecure families to share and highlight a record of this work that can provide guidance for other health care clinics/systems.
***Photo came on behalf of the City of Seattle, photo credit to photographer, Naomi Ishisaka***