Diabetes Wellness Program and HungerCare Food Boxes

About the Program

Feeding America’s most recent Hunger in America study found that one-third of the households served by their network of food banks report having a member with diabetes, over half have a member with high blood pressure, and two-thirds have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. People with diabetes and heart disease who are also struggling with food insecurity are often torn between their need to stretch their food budgets and their need to purchase healthy foods to manage their conditions,

Thanks to a generous grant from SSM Health, Second Harvest’s HungerCare Coalition piloted a program to provide food-insecure patients with free diabetes-appropriate food and tailored nutrition education for over 300 participants in Dane, Rock, and Sauk counties from April 2016 - October 2018. Program participants received a year of free monthly boxes of diabetes-appropriate food and tailored nutrition education to help them better control their Hemoglobin A1C levels and empower them to take the steps necessary to prevent short- and long-term diabetes complications.

Based on the success of the pilot, Second Harvest’s Board of Directors elected to fund an expansion of the program for 300 new participants in 2019. Second Harvest is currently partnering with 11 organizations to distribute food boxes in Dane, Dodge, Iowa. Rock, Green, Columbia, and Sauk counties. The boxes have been customized the boxes to meet the needs of patients with heart disease in addition to those with diabetes for patients at Upland HIlls Health and Columbus Community Hospital. These boxes are referred to as the HungerCare food box program. The boxes have also been customized to meet the special dietary needs and preferences for Latino patients at HealthNet of Rock County.

Participant Requirements

  • Age 18 or older

  • Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease

  • Food insecure (as determined by 2-question USDA screen)

Program Components

  • 12 monthly boxes of approximately 30 pounds of diabetes-appropriate and heart-healthy food (including vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains), equaling 1-2 weeks’ worth of meals

  • A monthly factsheet on various topics related to managing diabetes and heart disease including 2-3 recipes to use with the food items provided as well as a copy of the American College of Physicians “Living with Diabetes Guidebook”

Program Goals

  1. To increase participants’ knowledge on how to successfully manage diabetes and heart disease through proper nutrition.

  2. To increase participants’ intake of diabetes-appropriate and heart-healthy foods.

  3. To increase program participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their diabetes and heart health beyond the end of the program.

Current Program Partners

  • St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry

  • Living Hope Food Pantry

  • Upland Hills Health

  • Edgerton Community Outreach

  • Badger Prairie Needs Network

  • East Madison Community Center & Group Health Cooperative

  • Salvation Army Food Pantry - Janesville & Beloit

  • Aging and Disability Resource Center of Green County

  • HeathNet of Rock County

  • Columbus Community Hospital

  • Sauk Prairie Food Pantry