Lauren Moskowitz of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (right) distributes Good For Me food boxes to patients of Grace Medical Home in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 14, 2017 as part of the new Americares Diabetes Prevention with Healthy Food Program. Photo by Donna Porstner/Americares.
Stamford, Conn. –Nov. 15, 2017– A new program aims to prevent diabetes in free clinic patients by providing free, healthy food for one year. Patients of participating Americares partner clinics in the U.S. will receive weekly boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish through a new partnership with local Feeding America® food banks.
More than 80 low-income patients will participate in the new Americares Diabetes Prevention with Healthy Food Program, launched in partnership with Feeding America and funding from Baxter International Inc. The Good For Me food boxes and bags are designed to supply about 25 percent of a household’s food supply.
The 12-month program begins this month during National Diabetes Awareness Month, at two free clinics: Grace Medical Home in Orlando, Fla., and Greenville Free Medical Clinic in Greenville, S.C.
“Working with free clinics across the country we have found low-income patients often can’t afford to buy the fresh produce and lean meats they need to make critical dietary changes. Many may have no choice but to fill their grocery carts with cheaper, unhealthy food,” said Lindsay O’Brien, senior director of Americares U.S. Programs and Partnerships. “By taking cost out of the equation, we hope patients with prediabetes engaged in prevention programs will eat healthier and avoid a diabetes diagnosis.”
Nationwide, 84 million people have prediabetes, a preventable health condition that increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other health concerns. While there has been research indicating healthy food distributed by food banks improves glycemic control, the Americares study will look specifically at how clinics can identify and effectively address food insecurity in patients. The program will also look at learnings from linking a consistent supply of healthy food to a diabetes prevention program.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer healthy food boxes to our patients. Good, healthy food is a critical component for improved health and lifestyle change, yet more than 40 percent of our patients don’t have a reliable supply,” said Grace Medical Home Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Nelson Garris. “This healthy food component provides a unique opportunity to partner with our patients to prevent obesity and diabetes. We are grateful for this support.”
Patients in the program will have their health data recorded every six months. Americares and a team of researchers from Loyola University Chicago will analyze the results as part of a research study to see if the dietary changes affect participants’ blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and other clinical measures.
“Feeding America is committed to improving the nutrition and health of the people we serve,” said Michelle Berger Marshall, managing director of community health and nutrition at Feeding America. “We believe it is critical for our food banks to develop partnerships with healthcare providers and other organizations in order to best support families facing food insecurity. We are thrilled to be partnering with Americares in this important work.”
Americares saves lives and improves health for people affected by poverty or disaster worldwide so they can reach their full potential. In the U.S., Americares is the largest nonprofit provider of medical aid to organizations serving low-income and uninsured patients. Americares provides more than $200 million in medicine, supplies, education and training annually to a network of more than 1,000 clinic partners in all 50 states. Americares U.S. Program helps partner clinics increase capacity, provide comprehensive care, improve health outcomes and reduce costs for patients.
“Baxter and Americares have worked together to increase access to care for more than 30 years, and we are pleased to continue the partnership through support for the Healthy Food Program,” said Stacey T. Eisen, president of the Baxter International Foundation and senior vice president, Global Communications. “This is an opportunity to advance innovative thinking and practices to help combat an urgent healthcare challenge too many Americans are facing today.”