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Agency Spotlight–East Cliff Family Health Center

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. –Hippocrates

This quote centers on the belief that eating wholesome food is the basis for good health.

This is also what encouraged the staff at East Cliff Family Health Center to begin their own pantry distribution at their clinic over 2 years ago.

The East Cliff Family Health Center—part of Santa Cruz Community Health Centers—offers primary care health services regardless of ability to pay, and “advocates the feminist goals of social, political, and economic equality.”

East Cliff Family Health Center
East Cliff Family Health Center

The center’s clients are largely low-income, so fresh fruits and vegetables “are often prohibitively expensive for many” of them, remarked Primavera Hernandez, Programs Manager. But thanks to the food the center obtains from Second Harvest, every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month the staff and volunteers line their front office with tables filled with fresh produce and healthy pantry staples. They get over 3,000 pounds of nutritious food into the hands of 300 people in need every month.

Creating access to healthy foods helps the center fulfill its goals and mission, and also provides an opportunity for clients to give back. Blue Jones used to attend the food distribution, and a year ago he decided to volunteer for it. “If I can, then I have to,” he stated. Blue continues to help because he enjoys seeing people smile and sharing innovative recipes, like his favorite, Grilled Portobello Mushroom.

Besides benefits to physical and mental health, learning, and productivity, the nutritious food the center’s clients can access helps them avoid sickness and recover faster from illnesses and treatments.

Providing a food distribution at the health center has resulted in a community-focused, “one-stop shop” for Hippocrates’ inextricable food and medicine.