Diabetes Foundation to Launch Pilot Program with the Community FoodBank of NJ

The Diabetes Foundation (DF), New Jersey’s premier not-for-profit organization that empowers individuals living with diabetes, will launch a new pilot program this month, in partnership with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ). The partnership is designed to provide a pathway for effective diabetes self-management, helping people to manage blood sugar, lower their hemoglobin A1c levels, and increasing diabetes self-efficacy and knowledge of healthy nutrition. The DF will offer tools, resources and education dedicated to supporting long-term diabetes management and overall health and wellness.

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), based in Hillside, is a member of Feeding America® and is the leading anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization in the state. The partnership itself will take place at The Office of Concern Food Pantry in Englewood. The Food Pantry has grown to become the largest single location food pantry in Bergen County and serves over 1,000 registered families with food donations provided with support from CFBNJ.

The DF’s vision is to support a New Jersey where residents can grow old without experiencing the significant, and potentially life-threatening, health conditions prevalent among those living with diabetes. The condition is complex, challenging people physically, emotionally and financially. This new partnership will offer New Jerseyans, living with or at-risk for diabetes, the resources and education necessary for long-term and effective diabetes self-management.

“CFBNJ has done so much to support the Bergen County community, and we are thrilled to partner with them to provide important programming that educates the public on the importance of staying healthy when living with diabetes,” said Ginine Cilenti, executive director of the Diabetes Foundation. “From lifestyle changes to medication, diabetes can be challenging to navigate. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide those the Food Pantry serves with the educational resources needed to make their daily lives a little easier and even healthier.”

The program, launching in mid-August, will initially be separated into two cycles. The first will run from August through October 2022, and a second phase from March through May 2023. The Diabetes Foundation will enroll 25 participants in each cycle. Eligible program participants must be 18 years of age or older, a consistent user of the Food Pantry’s services, and must have a hemoglobin A1c of over 6.5. The DF will work directly with the Office of Concern to collect the A1c levels and screen for program eligibility, and qualified clients will be automatically enrolled to participate in the 3-month cycle. After the initial program, they can opt to continue to receive ongoing online and telephonic diabetes management support through the DF.

Once enrolled, the program will offer participants the following:

  • On-site and telephone support for participants to obtain free and affordable healthcare, diabetes supplies, and medication
  • Financial assistance programs
  • Educational programming
  • Numeracy, health literacy, technology training
  • On-site guidance and support to learn “everyday skills” for effective self-management
  • A1c, blood pressure, diabetes screening

Another highlight of the program will be a twice-monthly, diabetes-friendly food box distribution, complete with complimentary recipes. The boxes, provided by CFBNJ, will educate program participants on healthy eating practices, and are designed to take away some of the stress of meal prep for those living with or at risk for diabetes. They will contain diabetes-friendly food items like whole grains, lean proteins, low sodium canned vegetables, no-sugar-added canned fruits, low sodium/sugar-free condiments/sauces and spices. Recipes will be associated with the box contents and will offer a shopping list for additional ingredients to purchase, as well as contain a $10 Shoprite gift card, provided by the DF, to offset the cost of the additional ingredients.

“While delivering food is central to CFBNJ’s mission, so is inspiring healthy and positive lifestyles,” said Carlos Rodriguez, President & CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. “Food insecurity is a serious risk factor for chronic diseases like diabetes. Ensuring that our neighbors in need have access to diabetes-friendly ingredients and recipes will help to keep them healthy and active.”

“The Office of Concern Food Pantry is honored to host this important initiative,” said Donald Wuertz, Office of Concern Food Pantry executive director. “One of our longstanding goals has always been to not just distribute food to those in need but to also educate residents about nutritious eating and this program will do just that.”

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