Fighting Diabetes With Feeding America: One Woman's Story

In the United States today, 1 in 6 people lack access to enough nutritious food to live an active, healthy life.

That's 49 million Americans -- an unacceptable number.

At the same time, a record number of Americans struggle with diet-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Research strongly suggests a connection between food insecurity and diet-related disease. The connection makes sense: after all, milk often costs more than soda, and candy less than fruit. People facing hunger are not able to afford the healthy food they need.

At Feeding America, we believe we have an obligation to provide our clients with foods that improve their overall wellbeing and quality of life. Recently, I wrote an article discussing the launch of our Healthy Food Bank Hub, which is a Feeding America site designed to foster conversation between public health and hunger relief professionals on the issues of food insecurity and diet-related illness.

Through the Hub, we want to help food banks and other partners explore ways in which we can further help our clients struggling with diet-related disease.

Judy participates in an innovative nutrition program at the Corpus Christi Food Bank, which is a member of Feeding America. Read Judy's story below and learn more about what the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks is doing to fight hunger and promote health.

judy280I have been living with diabetes for several years. A couple years back, a friend told me about a diabetes management class offered by the Food Bank of Corpus Christi. The class sounded perfect for me.

The classes educated me on what foods I should eat, how to prepare those foods and how to manage my medicine. Equally as important, however: the classes provided me with a strong support system. Walking into class I would just light up like a flashlight, because I knew I was walking into a community of people who care.

As it turned out, I needed that community more than I ever thought I would. About midway through the course, I was laid off from my job of 33 years. I was devastated. Left to live off of a fixed income, I struggled. I definitely couldn't afford to buy the good foods recommended in class.

Then I learned that the Food Bank of Corpus Christi also runs a diabetes management pantry. What a blessing! After visiting, I walked out with a box of foods aimed at improving my health, filled with items like whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruit and vegetables like brussels sprouts (my favorite).

The diabetes programs have been a life-saver for me. I have lost 40 pounds since starting the program and feel healthier than I have in a long time. I wouldn't be where I am today without the help of the food bank. They've given me so much more than food and education - they've given me hope that I'll be able to see my son graduate college, meet my grandchildren and enjoy my retirement.

Diabetes is a serious disorder, but it doesn't have to control me. The food bank taught me that. Now I'm in control of my future, and from where I'm sitting, the future looks bright.

*As told to Colleen Callahan. For more information on hunger and diet-related disease, and what Feeding America is doing to promote nutrition across its network, please visit www.healthyfoodbankhub.feedingamerica.org .

Cisco support for a new transportation management system streamlined services for a network of 200 member food banks for a projected savings of US$1.5 million over 5 years or 12 million meals. For more information, visit: http://csr.cisco.com/pages/feeding-america