Educational booths and food collection events raising awareness and developing renal-friendly foods for county food pantries.
Location & Address
Sandy Lake Booth, Grove City Educational Booth, Grove City Food Collection, Shenango Valley Educational Booth, Shenango Valley Food Collection, Educational Booth in Summer Health Fair
When we began this project, Food For Thought was merely an idea sprung from a well of need in our area for access to foods and protein supplements that can accommodate for kidney disease dietary restrictions. Several of our patients used the local food banks but ended up with cans of soup and sodium laden canned vegetables and sugar loaded canned fruits. As a social worker, I hesitated to recommend patients to use the food pantries and I assumed that other residents of the county being treated for pre-ESRD kidney disease, diabetes, and hypertension also struggled to balance financial need with physical need. When my clinical supervisor recommended working with the food pantries or addressing protein supplement costs, I was eager to meet with the Community Food Warehouse to discuss how we could work together.
It was an enlightening meeting and as I spoke about the needs of these patients, the representatives of the Food Warehouse listened intently. They stated they were aware of the needs and sometimes residents did call to inquire about special foods but never did they think outside the box to find a way to address this need. They had so many other things to attend to and a large portion of their foods come from government supply. Together, we agreed that if we asked people to help, there would be a response. If we asked for specific foods and monetary donations to be made for protein supplements, there would be a supply and thus, the special needs food pantry sections were created.
We agreed we would tackle this project in a variety of ways and stretch the events out over the course of the project months in order to increase awareness of kidney disease in general and of the need for a special needs foods section in the pantries. Food For Thought and the Community Food Warehouse decided to offer a series of food drives and educational booths. In the process of outlining the events, we contacted a local radio station, Froggy 95. Their representatives thought our idea was very creative and offered to assist us in hosting a health fair dedicated to the awareness of kidney disease and this service project. It was an amazing opportunity and we jumped at the chance to offer this to our community. The end result of all these efforts is as follows:
Education and Advertising:
83 public service announcements offered by Froggy 95
Allied News article - circulation of 15,000 copies and multiplied by 2.5 (per Sharon-Herald to determine potential readership) = a potential 37,500 readers!
The Herald article – a circulation of 18,000 copies multiplied by 2.5 (per Sharon-Herald to determine potential readership) = a potential of 45,000 readers!
WPIC Senior Radio Show – Food For Thought and the Community Food Warehouse participated in a one hour show with an average of 5000 to 6000 listeners!
A Health Fair dedicated to kidney disease that had 13 vendors present plus sponsored 6 speakers on topics related to health and nutrition for residents with chronic kidney disease.
4000 handouts were distributed to seniors and family consumers of the Food Warehouse pantries in Mercer County regarding the need for screenings for kidney disease.
$500.00 designated for protein supplement purchases from Fresenius Medical Care
$165.00 from the sale of kidney awareness necklaces and miscellaneous donations given during the educational booths at the fairs
44 hours of education during the 8 days of educational booths across 6 community events
462 + community residents given either verbal and/or written material on kidney disease and the special needs food sections
5 Food Drives totaling over 500 lbs of food that was distributed between the Sharon and Grove City, PA pantries
Community Partners for the food drives included: County Market, D’Onofrio’s, Notre Dame School, Primary Health Network, Hermitage High School, Penn State Shenango Campus
14 DCI employees and our nephrologists’ Nurse Practitioner participated in a variety of little and big tasks with Food for Thought!
Community Food Warehouse had three volunteers participate.
Primary Health Network assisted with 8 volunteers through use of their Americorps workers to provide help with the two major food drives at local grocery stores.
Two DCI patients volunteered time – one to be interviewed and one helped at the educational booth at the Care For Your Kidneys Health Fair.
2 community volunteers sponsored food drives at Penn State campus and at the Hermitage High School.
Food Pantry Referrals:
3 phone callers to the Community Food Warehouse (CFW) have specifically requested the special needs food sections
The CFW is beginning to notify their present consumers to see if there is a preference for the special needs foods. Residents do not need to share their medical diagnoses but rather just ask for low/no sodium/sugar foods.
Free Kidney Risk Screenings by the National Kidney Foundation of the Alleghenies:
May 20: 31 residents completed assessments with 87% identified as having an increased risk of CKD
77% had an elevated BMI
74% had an elevated BP
45 % self reported high cholesterol
July 15: 94 residents completed assessments with 95% identified as having an increased risk of CKD
29 participants had an elevated BMI
43% had an elevated BP
11% had an elevated BP and were unaware that they may have hypertension.
65 % self reported high cholesterol
So, how do you define success? There are certainly numbers and statistics that demonstrate the effort put into this project. There has been money raised and donated to the Community Food Warehouse to maintain the special needs food sections. Food For Thought has also spread the word about kidney disease, preventative efforts such as screenings/reducing risk of having diabetes or hypertension, and caring for yourself if you do become diagnosed with kidney disease. At the end of the day, however I think these stories provide the best measure of success:
• One participant had heard about the health fair and risk screenings on the radio while she was driving to camp for a vacation. She stopped to discuss dialysis with the staff on hand because she had just learned that she would need to start dialysis in the coming months and her family members were not being supportive and had discouraged her from trying it. She was preparing to live as long as possible without dialysis. After talking with a DCI nurse, she expressed understanding the process and procedures better, feeling more comfortable in explaining it to family and more likely to do dialysis to live a longer life.
• Two patients were able to feel really good about volunteering time, experience, and advice to others.
• One resident who only has one kidney and was experiencing some symptoms and did not have a PCP or other providers was given education, encouragement, and contact information of local nephrologists.
• Several family members learned more about nutrition and kidney disease and are better prepared to assist their loved ones at home.
• Many family members and friends picked up educational information and handouts to share with others out of love and concern.
• Residents and patients alike expressed gratitude for the development of the special needs food section and expressed that this was of great need.
• The DCI Staff pulled together and worked as a team across two clinics to accomplish this task and with no focus on winning the contest but rather only to assist the patients and residents of the community.
• Two community residents have offered to volunteer in different ways either at the clinic and/or to offer a support group for Pre-ESRD patients.
• Community Residents spent time discussing their loved ones and their experiences with kidney disease with the educational booth volunteers – reminiscing about loved ones who have died, who are presently on dialysis, who may need dialysis in the future.
• Discussions are already starting about how to continue to support the Community Food Warehouse with maintaining the foods sections ongoing.
Date & Time
April 2, 2011; June 5, 2011, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM; June 10/11, 2011, 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM; July 4, 2011, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM; July 16/17, 2011, 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM; Third week in July 2011 - Health Fair date to be announced.
For More Information
Laura Buck, LCSW - 724-342-3040, firstname.lastname@example.org
Full details and program guidelines are posted on www.dciinc.org and the DCI intranet. Acts of Service must be coordinated by DCI employees. All DCI employees are welcome to participate.
* Award money received from winning the online competition for "Best Act of Service" is to be used for DCI clinic educational purposes. For example: Paying for staff education courses, funding Pre-ESRD courses, or to purchase educational items to be used in the clinic.