Health care Equity

COVID-19 seemed to hit overnight. So many of the families served by ZSFG lost jobs, housing, and access to social safety-net programs that kept their families safe—like putting food on the table. Our providers asked their patients what they needed most. Over and over, they heard: help with rent, food, and diapers. And many asked themselves—what can I do to help right now? 

For Dr. Misa Perron-Burdick, that meant turning her garage into a diaper warehouse.

“I just had this image of our pregnant moms and moms with newborns going from store to store trying to find goods for their family, and putting themselves at increased risk.”

This concern grew into the Patient Pantry.

The Patient Pantry program at ZSFG has grown to include 10 clinical sites—providing families access to much-needed food and supplies to take home after a visit to our clinics. The pantries are filled with culturally appropriate food, including fresh produce, as well as supplies like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, diapers, and baby wipes. And for those with needs between visits, a group of doctors, nurses, and medical students have been volunteering their time to gather supplies and make deliveries to nearly 50 families each month.

Organizations like the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank and the San Francisco Unified School District have stepped up to feed our city in heroic numbers. And because of these distribution sites, patients have somewhere to turn, even during a pandemic. The team behind these Patient Pantries hopes to give patients yet another place to find support. 

The program continues to grow thanks to a new partnership with Solid Start—a multi-disciplinary effort at ZSFG focused on pregnant individuals and families with young children in San Francisco. One of our community partners, the Homeless Prenatal Program, is now housing the central pantry in their nearby facility. 

And thanks to the recent 2020 Hearts Grants awarded by the Foundation, even more patients will have access to these health essentials during future visits.