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  • Lucia Zegarra

Access to Healthy Foods and CHW Support Helps Community Members Achieve More

Olanike moved to the US from Nigeria seeking asylum. She was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure and was referred to our Long Branch Healthy Food Access Program by one of our partners, MobileMed. When our community health worker (CHW), Rosemary McCloskey, contacted her initially, we discovered that: she didn’t know much about diabetes, she didn’t have her own transportation, and she was trying to get a job and enroll her children in Medicaid. Olanike had a lot on her plate! After getting to know her, Rosemary signed her up for the Healthy Food Access Program to have her fruits and vegetables delivered to her home. First, Olanike set the goal of lowering her blood sugar levels. Then, Rosemary taught Olanike about the benefits of eating fresh vegetables and small portions of fruit along with other components of a healthy diet. Olanike also began an exercise routine, and with Rosemary’s support, she was able to continue through the winter months. At the end of the 12-week program, Olanike was connected to additional food assistance resources to continue her progress. Seven months after her graduation from the Healthy Food Access Program, Rosemary followed up with Olanike. Her blood sugar levels continued to drop and she lost weight. Not only did her health improve, but her life also turned around. She earned her nurse’s aide license and now has a full-time job, her own apartment, and a car. Healthy eating and exercise don’t simply impact your “numbers”, but your entire life. Your health is the cornerstone of your overall success as an individual. It provides you with more energy, less expenses, and ultimately more hope.

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