Relieving stress for hungry patients, one recipe at a time

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February 3, 2017 By: JT Pinther Category: SHH News

For people with diabetes and other chronic diseases, maintaining a healthy diet is a must. According to Mayo Clinic, a diabetes diet requires healthy, nutrient-rich foods, and a specific regimen to keep blood sugar levels in a safe range. All the moving pieces can be hard to manage for anyone.

But what about if a diabetic patient is also food-insecure?

Not knowing where the next meal is coming from at all, much less with healthy food specific to one’s dietary needs, adds a layer of stress for many people.

"If we’re eating processed foods high in sugars and starches because it’s what we can afford, we don’t feel so great—it affects our health and causes us to spend more money on medical expenses. It’s a cycle.” –Kevin, a client

As part of our Hunger and Health Initiative, Second Harvest Heartland is responding to this need in part through a program called FOODRx. Through FOODRx, enrolled patients have the opportunity to receive a box of healthy food to meet immediate needs with disease-appropriate foods on an more on-going basis.

Among those taking the lead on this project is Kristen Williamson, a registered dietitian. It was important to Second Harvest Heartland to bring in an expert who understands the nuances and complexities of disease-specific diets and healthy, shelf-stable foods.

 “As you talk about diabetic management, there’s a lot of stress,” said Kristen. “FOODRx helps people with diabetes and other chronic diseases and are also food insecure.”

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With the box of food comes healthy recipes that use the items in the box. “Recipes are meant to be quick and easy, can be made in fewer than 30 minutes, or something you can make, leave and come back to,” Kristen said. Kristen spends a significant amount of time on each recipe. Putting the client at the center of our work, we have provided boxes filled with culturally appropriate food that include 100’s of recipes and nutrition education materials translated into Spanish and Somali.

 “Every month we get a survey back about the recipes and education,” Kristen said. “About 90 percent of participants say they utilize the recipes and education and they find them helpful.”

For Kristen, the success of this program is much more than just part of her job. “Even though it’s not face-to-face teaching,” Kristen said, “it still feels like I can help someone and give the freedom for people who’ve been diagnosed to try new things and enjoy eating again. It’s a really great feeling, and hopefully it will help on many levels.”

With your help we are able to make investments in innovative programs like FOODRx. If you want to join our work to advance hunger relief solutions and provide more access to food for more people, you can do so by giving a gift today.


Currently in a pilot phase, the program is not accepting or open to new participants.




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