The Redwood Empire Food Bank, part of the Feeding America network of food banks, today marked World Diabetes Day by announcing an $800,000 grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to help communities and populations disproportionately affected by type 2 diabetes.

The grant is part of a $3.1 million commitment to Feeding America as part of Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Together on Diabetes: Communities Uniting to Meet America’s Diabetes Challenge, a five-year, $100 million initiative to improve health outcomes for people living with type 2 diabetes in the United States.

“Type 2 diabetes is a substantial health issue in Sonoma County,” said David Goodman, executive director of the Redwood Empire Food Bank. “This grant allows us to distribute diabetes-friendly food boxes, fresh produce, and diabetes education materials to clients facing food insecurity who are receiving medical services at several of the clinic and hospital sites throughout rural, suburban, and urban areas of Sonoma County.”

Sonoma County health care partners will identify clients with diabetes who are also food insecure and refer them to the food bank. In turn, REFB will refer food bank clients not receiving primary medical care to the appropriate health care partners. Food boxes and fresh produce will provide clients a steady source of nutritious food and serve as an example of the types of food to consume in order to help them manage type 2 diabetes. Along with the non-perishable food and fresh produce, educational materials will be provided to encourage and assist clients in the management of their diabetes through healthy eating.

“Food insecurity and diabetes are public health challenges often found in the same vulnerable communities,” said Michelle Berger Marshall, MS, RD, LDN, director of nutrition at Feeding America. "Individuals struggling to afford a healthy diet cannot manage their diabetes effectively. This project provides a unique opportunity for food banks and their partners to identify and support individuals who face a dual burden of type 2 diabetes and limited resources. With access to appropriate food, these individuals will be better able to follow the recommendations of their health care providers and manage their disease.”