LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Families visiting Arkansas Children's Hospital on an empty stomach will see relief soon. After conducting thousands of surveys, ACH found that one out of five families served is without sufficient food.
The data alarmed Hospital employees so much they had to take action. Now Arkansas Children's Hospital will help needy families apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on site.
"As of now we are able to take applications to SNAP through the financial counselors at our hospitals who will then work with the local and county officials to hopefully facilitate this to SNAP," says Dr. Patrick Casey, Harvey & Bernice Jones Professor of Developmental Pediatrics.
Arkansas Children's Hospital begins a new initiative to fight food insecurity by teaming up with DHS. After looking at data from more than 40,000 surveys, hospital personnel found 20 percent of emergency room patients don't have a sufficient food supply.
"18 questions that get at whether a family has enough food for money do they actually have to start scrimping at times? In fact, whether they skip meals? One of the questions is did you child not have a meal for an entire day...very striking questions," says Casey.
The results of the survey spurred action.
"To match resources with resources, through SNAP... through summer feeding programs through after school," says Kathy Webb, Executive Director of Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.
ACH staff will be trained in assisting applicants, and a DHS van will provide mobile enrollment on the ACH campus periodically with the assistance of a DHS worker.
Dr. Casey says over the last 15 years, the Arkansas Children's Hospital Emergency Department conducted more than 10-thousand surveys in Little Rock alone.
Other children's hospitals across the country also collected data -- through Children's Healthwatch. This national group monitors the impact of economic conditions on the health of children.