Imagine if you had not been seen by a doctor for more than two years, living life as usual, without knowing you were at risk for diabetes. That’s exactly what happened to Ms. Cax Ramirez, who did not know she was pre-diabetic until she was screened through Summit Medical Group Foundation (SMGF) and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey’s Food, Health, Hope: An Answer to Diabetes (FHH Diabetes) program. “I was surprised because I thought my eating habits were good,” expressed Ms. Cax Ramirez.
FHH Diabetes aims to help address diabetes in urban municipalities in Essex, Passaic and Union counties. Through the program, SMGF provides free wellness screenings for adults in New Jersey, with a focus on detecting diabetes. Many wellness screenings take place at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey food pantries, providing an opportunity to combine healthy food, education, diabetes monitoring and more for an underserved population adversely affected. The program is made possible by grant funding from The American Medical Association Foundation, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and through the generous support of SMGF’s individual and corporate donors.
Ms. Cax Ramirez, who doesn’t have health insurance, realized that if it wasn’t for FHH Diabetes, she likely would never have known she was pre-diabetic until the condition was advanced. Now that she’s part of the program, she receives regular HbA1c (average blood sugar level over three months) monitoring, helping her keep her blood sugar levels in check. She enjoys attending the education classes, where she’s learned how to make fresh, healthy juice with cucumbers and lemons; how many calories and grams of sugar are in the types of juices she used to buy in the store; and the importance of adding fresh greens and vegetables to her daily diet. “Now, I control the portions of my servings and eat vegetables with every meal,” she explained.
Receiving the food box of healthy, fresh produce, whole grains and lean meats has also made a huge difference for Ms. Cax Ramirez. In addition to providing health benefits, the food “helps financially because it’s saving me money from having to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and it’s helping me eat healthier.” With all the valuable information she’s learned through FHH Diabetes, Ms. Cax Ramirez is also providing healthier meals for her children. And that, is a change worth making.