DGIM Food Pharmacy

DGIM Food Pharmacy History: We believe that nutritious food is critical for good health so we started the DGIM “Food Pharmacy” in August 2019.

This is a food bank for patients who don’t always have enough food to eat. We serve fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, and a protein to about 100 patients each event, and a take-home meal once a month. We also distribute nutrition education. In September 2022, we began a Culinary Medicine program under the leadership of Dr. Diana Thiara, who created healthy cooking demonstrations.

DGIM Food Pharmacy Patients are a vulnerable group:

  • 81% of our patients have severe food insecurity
  • 73% rate their health as “poor” or “fair”
  • 72% are racial/ethnic patients of color
  • 39% self-identify as disabled

In 2022 we won a UCSF contest about novel patient programs. Dr Moreno-John and Dr Zoe Kopp, who helped write the grant to start this program, were interviewed about the DGIM Food Pharmacy in a podcast. The podcast is called “Advocating for Social Justice – A Story on Food Insecurity.”  

To learn more about the DGIM Food Pharmacy, listen at either of these sites Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

DGIM Food Pharmacy successful outcomes as of 9/2022

  • We have enrolled 620 patients, distributed 3,776 bags of food, given 1,800 take-away meals 
  • Mild food insecurity has been reduced by 63% (patients who worry they will run out of food)
  • Severe food insecurity has been reduced by 32% (patients who run out of food)
  • 100% of patients have increased access to healthy food because of the DGIM Food Pharmacy

PATIENTS: answer these questions to see if you have food insecurity.  Within the past 12 months: 

1. "Did you worry whether your food would run out before you got money to buy more?” 

2. “Did it ever happen that the food you bought didn't last and you didn’t have money to get more?”

PROVIDERS: Ask your patients these questions. If they answer Often or Sometimes to either or both questions put “Food Insecurity” on their problem list and make an “Ambulatory Referral to Food Pharmacy.”

VOLUNTEERS: sign up here for a Monday from 2 to 5pm by using this form.

Patient Quotes

  • "Sometimes I don't have any food. Today I only have a little bit in the house and I wasn’t sure what I was going to eat. Thank goodness you're here." 
  • "I have to live on $1300 a month in San Francisco. If I get $5 more, I can't get food stamps. It's a fine line I walk. Thank you so much for this program."

For more information, email Gina Moreno-John or Crystal Liang


The Food Pharmacy is a collaborative effort with the "Food as Medicine Collaborative" in the SF Dept of Public Health, the Mount Zion Health Fund, Farming Hope, Arcadio's Produce and the SF Marin Food Bank.
Mt. Zion Food Pharmacy