Innovation Fights Food Insecurity at Unity Care NW
In 2019, Unity Care NW participated in a pilot prescription program to provide produce for food-insecure patients with type 2 diabetes. A partnership with Bellingham Food Bank, The Community Food Co-op, Unity Care NW, and other health providers, allowed medical providers to prescribe participants with $40 of fruit and vegetables a month for one year. With the support of health educators, nutritionists, and care coordinators, patients were provided access to nutrition and cooking classes, and individual supports based at each healthcare agency.
Kasey Langley and Bert Stover, both clinical faculty at the University of Washington found that, out of 116 participants for whom data existed:
- The average participant’s consumption of fruits and vegetables increased
- The average A1c score (a measure of blood sugar that helps predict serious negative health outcomes) over participants’ 12 months in the program dropped from 10.7 to 9.0
- 54% of participants reported an improvement in their attitude toward self-care of their diabetes
Since the initial pilot of Whatcom Veggie Rx, Unity Care has implemented our own vegetable prescription program, with funding support from PeaceHealth funding. Veggie Rx continues to provide $40 per month for fresh and frozen produce for eligible patients. The program will continue in and has grown to provide produce from 67 to 100 patients in 2021. With the addition of an in-house dietitian, Unity Care continues to provide individual and group support for learning lifestyle skills, to reach the health goals for our patients.
Interested patients with type 2 diabetes are encouraged to ask their health care provider about Veggie Rx.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
This past year presented so many different challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency. The global pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined, and a lot of us struggled with our mental health as a result. The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of individuals and communities.
A great starting point for anyone who is ready to address mental health concerns is to speak to your primary care provider. They can help identify if you’re in need of specialist care and connect you with a mental health provider at Unity Care NW.
Accessing mental health care and finding a therapist that works for you can take time and energy. It can be helpful to explore strategies to support yourself as you navigate your own path to accessing mental health care.
- Remind yourself that you can’t change what has already happened. Before you can make peace with things as they are, you have to acknowledge that there’s no going back to the way things were. Doing this may be challenging and painful, but by identifying what you can and can’t control, you can turn your energy towards coping with the things you can’t change.
- Embrace your feelings. You might still be angry, scared, overwhelmed, or lonely – that’s okay. When you accept these feelings and let yourself experience them without judgement, it can help you work through them in a healthy way.
Keep in mind that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to improving your mental health. Mental illnesses are real, and recovery is possible. By reaching out for mental health care and developing your own coping strategies, it is possible to find balance between life’s ups and downs and continue to cope with the challenges brought on by the pandemic.