2 UCSF-Led Programs Receive Major Funding to Tackle San Francisco Health Issues

Two UC San Francisco-sponsored programs beat out more than 80 others to win major funding to help advance meaningful solutions to local health issues in San Francisco.

Kathleen Land, a programs analyst at UCSF, shops for fresh produce at UCSF Parnassus' farmers market. Photo by Susan Merrell

The Hellman Foundation announced the award of the first Hellman Collaborative Change Initiative grants to the EatSF Fruit and Vegetable Voucher Program and the Children’s Oral Health Collaborative. Each program will receive $400,000—coupled with strategic support from the Hellman Foundation—to strengthen their partnerships and support their efforts to improve lives in San Francisco.

The EatSF Fruit and Vegetable Voucher Program is creating a San Francisco where underserved communities can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables from their local market. 

Diets low in fresh fruits and vegetables are associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers.  But many low-income families simply do not have access to these vitally important foods. By creating a citywide network where vouchers are redeemable at local vendors for fresh fruits and vegetables, EatSF is improving nutrition for San Franciscans most in need.

Hilary Seligman, MD

Lisa Chung, DDS, MPH

“In 2012, it is estimated that San Francisco’s underserved population had to scramble to afford 67.8 million meals. That is appalling in a city that is as wealthy as ours,” said Hilary Seligman, MD, an associate professor in the UCSF School of Medicine, who is leading the EatSF Fruit and Vegetable Voucher Program. “We are committed to finding strategies that allow all members of our community to eat the healthy foods that prevent the development of chronic disease.”

The Children’s Oral Health Collaborative is committed to eradicating health disparities in childhood tooth decay, with the aim of making San Francisco cavity-free. The program is co-led by UCSF’s Lisa Chung, DDS, MPH, and San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Margaret Fisher, RDHAP.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. In San Francisco, emergency department visits for preventable dental problems are higher than that for asthma and diabetes combined, and untreated tooth decay is two to three times more common for children of color. 

“Our success is due to many dedicated partners, some individuals who have spent much of their careers to combat tooth decay, a pervasive health problem that all too often goes unacknowledged and untreated in children,” said Chung, an associate professor in the UCSF School of Dentistry’s Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences.

A UCSF School of Dentistry student teaches a young patient proper flossing techniques. Photo by Leland Kim

“Our collaboration recently formed thanks to the coordination and strong support from UCSF SF HIP (San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership) and SF DPH (San Francisco Department of Public Health), and funding from the Metta Fund. We hope this support from Hellman will bring greater awareness to the problem, our work to address it, and more partners to join us in our efforts.”

In choosing from an impressive array of active collaborations, the Hellman Foundation focused on cross-sector partnerships that had strong leadership, targeted a significant San Francisco challenge, and had the potential to make a real difference. 

To learn more about the EatSF Fruit and Vegetable Voucher, please email [email protected]. To get more information about the Children’s Oral Health Collaborative, please read their strategic plan.

Established in 2011, the Hellman Foundation finds and supports the creative change-makers improving the lives and livelihoods for all who call the San Francisco Bay Area home. For more information, visit their website.

Editor's note: Content from the Hellman Foundation was used in this story.

For more internal-facing stories from the UCSF community, please visit Pulse of UCSF.