Hunger affects all groups of people regardless of education level, employment status, or ethnicity. The global pandemic and recent economic fallout have increased the number of people in our community who identify as food insecure, many of whom never imagined they would need food assistance.

The MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program at the Family Medicine Clinic at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center developed a food pantry program to provide food for those who live with food insecurity.Family Medicine Residency Program Food Drive

Not only does the Family Medicine Residency Program team ensure the pantry is well stocked and give food items to families during their visits, but they connect them with short- and long-term food resources. The program recently hosted its third food drive to fill the pantry’s shelves and filled more than 60 bags with non-perishable foods.

“I see firsthand the impact that food insecurity can have on a person’s physical and mental health,” says Andy Shen, M.D., a resident physician at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency Program. “A few years ago, the team came together when the rate of patients expressing food insecurity continued to increase. Our patients were not only physically hungry, but also seemed very dejected,” added Dr. Shen. “We knew we needed to do more for our community, so we established this program that has proven to play a vital role in the compassionate care all people deserve.”

To identify food insecure patients, the Family Medicine Residency’s team provides a brief screening questionnaire at the end of a clinic visit. Patients who screen positive for food insecurity meet with the program’s social worker, Rose Oxford, LCSW, who provides community resources and assists in enrollments in any federal assistance programs, like Calfresh. There is no need for an appointment to receive food resources and walk-ins are always accepted.

Our food pantry is here to provide to those who are struggling to put food on the table. It is a symbol of hope and a demonstration of community support, showing those in need that they are not alone, and their well-being is valued.

Dominick Pizano, head supervisor, Family Medicine Clinic, MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center

The food pantry is supported by funding from the Community Benefits Oversight Committee at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center who are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of patients, their families, and the Long Beach community. The Family Medicine Residency Program makes sure people who are food insecure walk away with a meal and often buy food for their patients throughout the year.

“We try our best to provide food for our patients, but we still worry our food will run out before we can acquire more,” says Rose Oxford, LCSW, The Family Medicine Clinic, MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center. “Food is one of the necessities of life, and we do our best here at Family Medicine Residency to take action against food insecurity.”

The Family Medicine Residency Program – who is also celebrating their 50th anniversary – is open to accepting donations all year long, of either non-perishable food or gift cards to grocery stores. To learn how you can donate, contact Dominick Pizano at (562) 933-0031 or [email protected].