INDIANAPOLIS – Healthy food right to your doorstep. That’s the mission of a program in Marion County that’s helping people who lack access to nutritious food and who suffer from chronic health conditions.
“Some individuals receive boxes weekly from us and they really look forward to seeing the Gleaners driver come deliver that food to the door,” said Sarah Wilson, the Nutrition Manager for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.
It’s part of the Food is Medicine program, a partnership with Eskenazi Health, Gleaners Food Bank and Anthem Foundation. Through January, they hope to serve more than 2,000 food boxes, giving families one less worry on their plate.
“We understand that a lot of our neighbors aren’t just dealing with a lack of nutritious food, but they may also be dealing with chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure or heart disease and managing both at the same time, in addition to other concerns with everyday living – we want to make it as easy as possible,” Wilson added.
Patients first have to be screened for food insecurity by Eskenazi Health. Then, they’re referred by a dietician, so their doctor can help decide what food box would be the best fit.
“We have a standard box, we have a gluten-free box, and we have a vegetarian box,” said Wilson.
Along with the food, comes the hope to narrow the life expectancy gap. Doctor Deanna Reinoso with Eskenazi Health says this is a creative way to address the issue.
“Here in the Indianapolis metropolitan area there’s a 16.8 life expectancy gap from the zip codes up in the Fishers area down to downtown Indianapolis,” said Reinoso. “We know that food contributes to chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, many of the illnesses that shorten our life span.”
To fix this, the program not only offers food but access to resources, professionals, and virtual cooking tips to help guide patients on their journey towards good health.
“How can we creatively narrow that gap so that every individual in our community has access to the foods that will help them live a long and healthy life?” said Reinoso.
Wilson added, “Our goal is to hopefully help people, not need us as often, but we’re here if they do need us.”
Gleaners is part of the nationwide Feeding America effort and CBS4’s parent company Nexstar Media has committed to two million in donations and television air-time to help support the effort over the next two years.
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