Food is Medicine for Youth

Project Year


City & State

Oakland, California

Program Name

CATCH Resident



Program Description

We recognize that many children and their families who attend the UCSF Claremont Clinic do not have access to nutrient-dense foods; they may also have barriers to knowledge acquisition and limited access to practical nutrition education. We plan to partner with existing community organizations to develop a program for school-age children and adolescents that champions “food is medicine” and “prescribe” nutrient-dense foods as first-line therapy to prevent disease and promote healthy nutrition. We are passionate about this issue because in the community that we serve, we see high rates of food insecurity, an issue that pre-dated the pandemic but has now been exacerbated by it. We recognize that healthy dietary changes are challenging, especially for low-income families with limited resources. Our program initiative will not only promote “food is medicine;” it will also help link the families to a source of nutrient-rich organic food–the Rooftop Farm. We have received permission from Dr. Rupa Mayra and farmer Benjamin Fahrer to hold our quarterly/seasonal session at the Rooftop Medicine Farm. For each session, we hope to enroll 20 youth participants per session. We plan to develop a curriculum that engages youth in hands-on nutrition from planting seeds to eating the food on their plates. The focus will be on children and adolescents but we plan on providing families with educational material in advance so the intervention can be more family-centered. Our proposed intervention is developing an age-appropriate educational program for youth and adolescents who attend Claremont Clinic with seasonal/quarterly lessons to learn about how food grows, how food is medicine, and tangible steps to making healthy choices. Each session will be interactive, provide hands-on farming and/or basic cooking instruction, and reinforce concepts before sharing in a meal/food tasting. We plan to have 4 sessions a year (one each season). Each session will be 2 hours in duration: 30 minute farming component, 15 minute nutrition component, 10 minute break, 45 minute food tasting and storytelling component (most foods will be pre-prepped with the seasonal produce or preserved foods), and 20 minute activity/craft to reinforce nutritional concepts. During the storytelling component, we will encourage families to share what certain ingredients or recipes have meant in their family's history and hope families find common ground in how food is part of their family's fabric. For each session, we plan on having volunteer pediatricians/residents, farmers, nutritionists, and food systems activists at each session. After each session, families will be provided with fresh, seasonal produce from the Rooftop Medicine Farm. Anticipated outcomes include families eating more fruits and vegetables and incorporating more nutrient-dense foods in their meals. They should also feel more comfortable making healthy food choices, advocating for healthy dietary changes, growing food, and viewing food as medicine for healing communities. We anticipate that youth who attend our session will have increased acceptance of new ingredients/flavors at home, increased ability to identify new foods, and increased excitement to help with meal preparation at home. We plan to measure the goals and objectives with previously-validated surveys, as well as seeking qualitative feedback from youth participants, their families, and volunteers.

Project Goal

Emphasize "food is medicine" as a concept of healthy living and “prescribe” nutrient-dense foods to youth and their families

Project Objective 1

Enrolling/attendance of at least 20 number of youth (children and adolescent) participants per session

Project Objective 2

Having at least 3 of sessions in 12-month timeline (ideally 4, one per season) and provide families with education material focusing on seasonal nutrient-rich foods at each session.

Project Objective 3

Show pre- and post-intervention data, that demonstrates children's knowledge base around healthy nutrition increases as assessed by validated surveys

AAP District

District IX

Institutional Name

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland

Contact 1

Anh Vo

Contact 2

Sonia Subudhi; Walid Sherif


Last Updated



American Academy of Pediatrics