Urban League, BJC tackle food insecurity in the community

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and BJC HealthCare are partnering to keep families well and fed. It’s a partnership between two community leaders that came about by asking the right questions.

“We had a patient come in that needed tests and her son wasn’t able to go in with (her),” said Aislynn Moyer, patient care director at Barnes Jewish Hospital. “We had a staff nurse sitting with him and chit-chatting about what they were going to have for lunch. He indicated they didn’t have lunch. Our staff bought them lunch. The manager said she wanted to figure a way to help more people.”

At the primary care and OB-GYN clinics at the Center for Advanced Medicine on the BJC Health campus, a series of questions and conversations are trying to fill those food insecurities in the area.

“We have beans, soup, snacks for the kids,” said Quenesha Catron, division operating officer for the Urban League of Metropolitan St Louis. “Pasta and cereal and juice. There’s enough in the box to last two weeks.”

“The questions we’re asking them are nationally used questions like if they’re worried their food would run out if they had money to buy more,” Moyer said. “If they say yes, we have food boxes from the Urban League in our clinic. Then we’re referring them to social workers to help with those long-term resources.”

During the pandemic, the Urban League has fed thousands of St. Louisans in need at food distribution drives across the area. Over the last three weeks, they’ve been producing food boxes for BJC Health and filling a need that exists.

“Within one week they have already picked up over 300 boxes,” Catron said. “When they started asking questions and assessing the need. From there they determined the need was great. (Tuesday) we’re scheduled to pick up 250 boxes alone, so the need is there.”

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