Friday, July 19, 2013

When the harvest season started a few weeks ago, it marked the beginning of a period filled with local produce, farmer’s markets, and plenty of opportunities to eat well for good health.  There are few foods as delicious as those vegetables and fruits grown right in your own garden.  However, many CVIM patients have neither the space nor the resources to start and maintain their own food-bearing gardens.  Thankfully, CVIM has the resources to give a limited number of patients access to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm shares as part of their path to healthier living.

This year, a number of community partners stepped forward to help make the CSA program as responsive to patient needs as possible.  First, the Chester County Food Cupboard provided 15 CSA shares to CVIM patients, providing them with access to fresh, healthy foods they would not otherwise be able to afford.  Second, CSA pick-up for patients in the Oxford area has been made available at Oxford Public Library to increase patient compliance and minimize the barriers that stem from daily complications patients face in access to and cost of transportation.  The Penn State Extension Program has also started offering cooking and nutrition classes at CVIM as part of the clinic-wide effort to promote healthy eating.  Patients in the CSA program are now required to attend once-monthly cooking classes offered at either CVIM or the Oxford Public Library.

Last year, lab results from diabetic CSA program participants demonstrated a significant decrease in hemoglobin A1c levels following the CSA program.  All program participants this year are being monitored for changes in waist circumference, blood pressure, and more to track changes in critical health indicators following the program.  Considering the wonderful resources now available thanks to CVIM’s community partners, great improvements in health – and lifestyle – are expected from all.