By Stephanie Stahl


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has opened a new food pharmacy to help children and families get healthier meals.

A big part of the obesity epidemic in low-income neighborhoods is access to healthy food. Junk food is usually cheaper and easier to get, so the idea behind this new program is to make things like produce more accessible.

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CHOP’s new Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy is the first pediatric hospital-based food bank and education center in West Philadelphia. It promotes healthy nutrition and addresses food insecurity.

“Food insecurity, which is a polite way of saying hunger, believe it or not, there’s many people in Philadelphia, 21 percent of our population is actually food insecure,” said Saba Kahn, the food pharmacy’s director.

Doctors say without a healthy diet, a child’s overall health and development is at risk. The food pharmacy is part of CHOP’s Healthy Weight Program, which aims to reduce hunger and improve nutrition education.

“We’re often preaching about fruits and vegetables or healthy options, and we don’t necessarily delve into what it looks like for that family to access those healthy options,” said Kahn.

Brooke Bell and her daughter are part of the program.

“It can be overwhelming and sometimes when you have food insecurities, you’re in panic mode, like you’re trying to get your children fed and healthy food is expensive,” said Bell.

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CHOP’s Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy was made possible with a gift from Giant Food of $173,000.

This is just about access and also educating families about healthy food choices and providing them with recipes.

Stephanie Stahl