RMHC Toronto introduces snack pantry to improve parents and caregivers’ health and well-being.

When a child is receiving treatment for a serious illness, parents and caregivers will do anything to stay by their side in the hospital. But as a result, they will often forget about their own health and well-being.

The pandemic has made it even more challenging to keep self-care top of mind. Parents and caregivers are staying bedside with their children without breaks and are wearing face masks for extended periods of time. Our partners at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) observed that many parents and caregivers were not eating or drinking for hours on end. And with this, SickKids saw a unique opportunity for RMHC Toronto to support these family members.  

In December 2021, RMHC Toronto introduced a snack pantry in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and Cardiac Critical Care Unit (CCCU) at SickKids.

RMHC Toronto has filled the snack pantry with individually packaged items like granola bars, cookies, chips, and juice boxes. The pantry is located in the PICU and CCU so that parents and caregivers can quickly eat or drink and return to their child’s bedside.  

Margie Timpson, Family Room Coordinator, says the pantry was a natural way for RMHC Toronto to expand its embrace.

“I’ve seen firsthand that when a child is seriously ill, the whole family is impacted. Supporting parents and caregivers with snacks means they have more energy to be an active member of their child’s medical team, and ultimately keeps more families together,” says Margie.

Sarah Somerton, PICU Social Worker at SickKids, says so far the pantry has been a success.

“I encourage families to use the pantry if food costs are becoming a challenge, or when they feel like they can’t leave their child’s side to buy food,” says Sarah. “The most popular pantry item has been the juice boxes, which I think speaks to the population. When they are stressed and don’t have an appetite, they are willing to drink juice to keep their blood sugar up.”

Since this is a new initiative at the hospital, RMHC Toronto is looking forward to seeing how the pantry may evolve and continue to support parents and caregivers.

Thank you to our partners at SickKids for allowing RMHC Toronto to provide this valuable resource to help keep even more families together.

Learn more about our Family Rooms.