Pop-Up Pantry in Akron is an Effort to Combat Food Insecurity

Sep 9, 2019

Akron Children’s Hospital is trying to find ways to improve patient health before they need care. The first initiative is a pop up food pantry.

When the hospital surveyed 22,000 kids about barriers to health, 13% said food insecurity was a top concern.

Dr. Steven Spalding, Vice President of Population Health, says that number was overwhelming and they wanted to find a way to address the issue.

“And we want to make sure that at the end of the day, that what we’re putting in place really fully meets the needs of the family in a way that’s culturally and contextually appropriate,” Spalding said.

The hospital partnered with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and offered fresh produce and kitchen staples to 38 families who turned out at the pantry downtown.

Spalding says they plan to continue the effort to get food to patients in more locations in the future. The foodbank’s Jill Oldham says the pilot event helped the organizations get a better idea of where there’s need in the community.

“We’re trying to look at areas that have high food insecurity needs, people may not have access to regular food pantries that are already existing in those areas, and seeing how that lines up with the Children’s Hospital locations," Oldham says.

She says the foodbank plans to apply for grant funding and find two or three locations where there’s a higher need to continue the pop-up pantry on a consistent schedule.