By Taylor Durden | May 19, 2020 at 11:20 PM EDT – Updated May 19 at 11:20 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – As people are still waiting to go back to work or they are looking for jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, many families across the area may also be struggling to provide a healthy meal for their kids.

Norton Children’s Medical Associates is stepping in the gap to help feed families through a prescriptive food pantry.

The prescriptive food pantry model started in 2016 at the Norton Children’s Medical Associates location at Broadway and Floyd.

Norton Children’s Medical Associates is stepping in the gap to help feed families through a prescriptive food pantry. (Source: Norton Children’s Medical Associates)

Dr. Erin Frazier said the idea came to her during an appointment with a mom and two teenager daughters. The teen’s mom asked if the doctor’s office had any food vouchers.

“It really started to make me say, ‘how often is this kind of thing happening and how often are families truly not aware of where they are going to eat their next meal,’” Frazier said.

That interaction soon led to a partnership with Dare to Care Food Bank to open a prescriptive food pantry at the pediatric office.

Since it’s launch in October 2016, Norton Children’s Medical Associates has opened four other locations.

Dare to Care stocks all of the pantries.

Soon, there will be a total of 12 locations across Louisville, Shelbyville and southern Indiana, thanks to a $45,000 grant from the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Community Foundation of Louisville – One Louisville: COVID-19 Response Fund.

“We know that healthy eating and not having to have anxiety and stress over where you’re going to get food for your family affects the child’s health,” Frazier said. “So these are for our families and our patients that come to our offices.”

The prescriptive pantry are for patients of the practices. Doctors screen patients during appointments, asking a few questions to see if a family has food insecurities. Frazier said patients don’t have to wait for an appointment to get food assistance.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 30% of food-insecure households have incomes above the federal poverty level. Dr. Frazier said that’s often the group that slips through the cracks when it comes to food insecurity and the concern is greater now with the pandemic.

The pantries are stocked with healthy non-perishable items like tuna, peanut butter, pasta and soups, many of which are low in sugar, low in sodium and whole wheat. (Source: Norton Children’s Medical Associates)

“There are more people that are going to be in that group right now with so much job loss, time spend away from work due to the COVID epidemic,” Frazier said.

The pantries are stocked with healthy non-perishable items like tuna, peanut butter, pasta and soups, many of which are low in sugar, low in sodium and whole wheat.

Frazier said families are given recipe cards that include healthy, low-cost ingredients so families can recreate the inexpensive meals themselves.

“It seems like a healthier option when it’s coming from a physician who is talking about it with you and teaching you, ‘hey, we know you are on a budget, we know times are tight, but these are some things you can use in your recipes that are less expensive and healthy,’” she said.

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