Putting Health on the Table—Together

Putting Health on the table header

June 20, 2018 By: Marie Pauley Category: SHH News

When we help provide food for families who struggle to afford it, it’s not just about the number of pallets and pounds. It’s what kind of food makes those pounds.

All of us at Second Harvest Heartland know fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and dairy help keep us healthy. These foods have been shown to reduce the risk of diet-related chronic diseases and even some cancers. Unfortunately, we know not everyone has access to enough of these great foods in their diets.

According to Feeding America’s Hunger in America study (2014), 32 percent of food-insecure households in central Minnesota and western Wisconsin have at least one member with diabetes and 47 percent have a least one member with high blood pressure. These troubling stats are not a coincidence. You can’t have health without the right food.

The good news is, Second Harvest Heartland and our nearly 1,000 community partners strive to provide a balanced plate for our neighbors who need food help. Together we innovate through a wide variety of initiatives focused on providing nutritious options and support.

One of those programs is FOODRx. Through FOODRx, Second Harvest Heartland provides dietitian-validated food boxes in coordination with a healthcare facility.

Each box customized for people with a chronic disease provides approximately 7-10 days’ worth of food and a few recipes that offer simple preparation options.

We currently use 54 recipes in the FOODRx boxes, but we have a library of more than 100; all developed by Second Harvest Heartland’s Registered Dietician and Program Coordinator, Kristen Williamson. Kristen and the team take time to add recipes and revise based on patient feedback. 36 recipes were developed in Spanish, and 36 in Somali.

Developing FOODRx recipes has led to new partnership opportunities, such as the Wellness Hub’s January grand opening at their Cedar-Riverside clinic in Minneapolis. 

“The day of the event we worked with Brian Coyle Center, another Second Harvest Heartland partner, for a produce distribution. Kristen and an intern developed a commemorative recipe using produce typically available during January,” said People’s Center Clinic Diabetes Specialist Kelly Coughlin, RD, CDE.

“We were able to give people a bag of produce with ingredients to make the recipe at home,” Coughlin added. “People are asking when the next produce distribution is. They appreciate tasting the ingredients in a recipe, sometimes in a new way.”


This work is only possible because of supporters like you.

Help us continue to get nutritious food on the table for our neighbors working to make ends meet.


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