The connection between health and hunger is irrefutable. Research shows that adults living with food insecurity are at an increased risk for chronic conditions like obesity, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The rates of diabetes will continue to increase, as they have for the last few decades. Higher health care costs for individuals with diabetes means food-insecure clients have tougher choices and smaller shares of budgets for healthy food that can help support diabetes management.
Nearly half of all adults in California are estimated to have prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes; worse, up to 30% of people with prediabetes are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within five years, and as many as 70% will develop the disease in their lifetime.
Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB) is located in the heart of the Bay Area in California, serving ethnically diverse individuals and households with significant health disparities. Twenty percent of our clients reported at least one household member with diabetes, and a large proportion of our clients’ food comes from our Food Bank.
That’s why we’re investing in initiatives that aim to improve the health of our community. In collaboration with Feeding America and the University of Pittsburgh, we launched a program this month aimed to assess how food banks can successfully support adults at high risk of prediabetes with healthy, medically-tailored supplemental food packages, referring clients to healthcare and community-based organizations, and enrolling them into a healthy lifestyle program. We anticipate enrolling up to 250 individuals into the year-long program.
We’ve also participated in three other initiatives:
- Feeding America Intervention Trial for Health – Diabetes Mellitus (FAITH-DM)
- “Food as Medicine” project with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, Alameda County Public Health Department and Dig Deep Farms; and
- CARE, a collaborative focused on clinic-based management for high risk patients
Participating in research studies like these has elevated our capacity to test and innovate, offered valuable programmatic and logistical insight, and helped us develop a systems and prevention-focused approach to our work in order to maximize the reach and impact with institutions and public systems. Health programs and partnerships are thus essential to our mission to end hunger in our community.
We believe food is medicine and see ourselves as being allies of the healthcare community. We want to build the evidence base and implement services and programs that will improve the health of food-insecure populations. Through each collaboration, success, and learned insight, we become a better public health partner to strengthen our community, ensuring a brighter, healthier future for all. That’s something we can celebrate this November and beyond.
Kate Cheyne is the Research Manager at Alameda County Community Food Bank.