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Eskenazi Health and IU School of Medicine partner to help fight food insecurity

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Posted at 7:48 PM, Jun 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-07 08:26:24-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Fighting food insecurity can be a challenge, but one organization is tackling it with health at the forefront.

Eskenazi Health and IU School of Medicine are teaming up to help fight food insecurity by targeting patients with high blood pressure and showing them how to cook healthy, affordable meals.

One meal participants have learned how to cook includes canned peas, tuna, carrots, Italian dressing and whole grain tortillas. This meal costs around $15.

“This took five minutes and there’s enough servings for my family,” Mariah Adams, an Outpatient Clinical Dietitian with Eskenazi Health said.

Adams is now the instructor of the classes that are part of a new program called Food Resources and Kitchen Skills Initiative (FoRKS).

“It’s a program to help supply food resources and kitchen skills, while also giving participants information on how to help their blood pressure,” Adams said.

According to data compiled by Eskenazi Health Center, 30% of patients reported experiencing food insecurity within the last year. One in five of those have a diagnosis of high blood pressure.

“I was a little off track, but this program has helped a lot,” Jerome Williams, a patient who took part in the FoRKS pilot program, said.

Williams says the skills he has learned has helped him make better choices and improve his health.

“Just the way my body is – I wake up in the morning and I feel a lot healthier. When I go to sleep, now that I am taking medicine and eating right, it’s good,” Williams said.

The program also provides food and cooking equipment.

“It was wonderful. All the pots and pans, they let us have. The staff was wonderful. It helped my kitchen out,” Williams said.

The class can also be taken virtually, allowing patients to learn how to cook in their own homes and help them build healthy habits.

“If they can cook from home with the ingredients, I think they are much more likely to continue doing so,” Adams said.

The FoRKS program is free, and it focuses on teaching people how to eat a Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Researchers will study how effective the program is at lowering the patient’s blood pressure.

Those interested in the program, contact Eskenazi Health. For more information, click here.