KU JayDoc Free Clinic Food Pantry: Food as Medicine in Healthcare Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon

What they do: The JayDoc Free Clinic is a University of Kansas student-run clinic offering non-emergency urgent and preventive care to uninsured and underinsured individuals in the Greater Kansas City area three evenings a week. The clinic now offers food pantry services to all patients who attend the clinic on Tuesday evenings if they choose to participate. Patients are able to choose from a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nonperishable goods, and the amount of food they take home is based on the size of their household. Along with the food, patients also receive a menu (written in both English and Spanish) with recipe suggestions based on the produce they are receiving.  

How they do it: The idea for the food pantry came from a second-year medical student who wanted to incorporate more holistic health services at the clinic. With the help of three other medical students and a professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, the pantry service was added in 2021.  

University of Kansas medical students run both the clinic and the pantry. Each week, they pick up donations from Harvesters Community Food Network consisting of fresh produce and shelf-stable items that the students determine are appropriate for the clinic patients’ health needs. After selecting the food, they plan a menu with recipes using the produce that will be offered at the pantry that week. When patients arrive at the clinic, a medical student provides them with a form showing what foods are available that evening, and the patients can then choose what they would like to take home. 

Mission: The food pantry is under the direction of Complementary and Integrative Medicine Advocates (CIMA), a campus organization run by students. Its mission is to: 

  • Spread scientific knowledge about and advocate for the appropriate use of complementary and integrative medicine by health care providers in all divisions of medicine, when applicable.   
  • Provide patients and local communities with the tools and knowledge they need to practice holistic medicine safely while reducing social barriers to health, such as socioeconomic status, education, and employment. 

Major Funding: Food donations are provided by Harvesters Community Food Network. Students are considering holding a fund drive in the future in order to buy a refrigerator and/or freezer so the pantry can add meat, dairy, and other perishable items to their offerings. 

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit 

Annual Budget: None

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: Providing a menu to accompany the food has been helpful as a way to inform clients how to use the food they receive and is one way the in-clinic pantry has established itself as unique. 

Results from a student survey have shown that more than 70 percent of families who had not utilized a food pantry previously would consider using one after trying JayDoc’s in-clinic pantry. 

FACT SHEET: 

Location: 
JayDoc Free Clinic 
340 Southwest Boulevard 
Kansas City, KS, 66103 

Core Programs: Food pantry 

Number of staff:

Number of volunteers: 8-11

Areas served: Greater Kansas City 

Year Started: 2021 

Founders: Jadesola Akinwuntan, Ashley DeBauge, Courtney Sharp, Grant Johnson, and Shelley Bhattacharya, D.O., MPH

Managers: Medical students Ryan Asauskas, Rebekah Elliott, and Denise Muchangi 

Contact Information: jaydocfreeclinic@kumc.edu   

Learn More: 

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