A year ago, preparing for surgery at a public hospital in New York City, Mexican Rosa Vásquez, 54, was diagnosed with diabetes. A chronic condition, which, like cardiovascular problems, is in the line of the main concerns of the City. It is one of the diseases that, among other factors, are associated with bad eating habits.
“During the pandemic, the truth is that in confinement I dedicated myself to eating and eating what is not due. I suffered from a lot of anxiety. He did not sleep. I did exactly everything I shouldn’t. And I suppose those habits harmed my health”, he shares Rosa, a resident of The Bronx.
As the consultations and treatment progressed, the Mexican woman was informed that she qualified for a program that financed her and made it easier for her to purchase, precisely the nutrients, which she rarely included in her diet: vegetables, fruits and fresh vegetables.
“Through the social workers at the hospital, they told me about a food program. And already for several months, it is allowing me little by little to change my diet. There are not so many tortillas or tacos anymore, but more vegetable soups and salads”.
Rosa is one of the first beneficiaries of the ‘Groceries to Go’ program, a strategy devised by the New York City Department of Health (DOHMH) and the Public Hospitals Corporation (NYC Health + Hospitals) to offer eligible patients, subsidies to buy fresh produce. But with the new option to choose them online, request them to receive them at home or pick them up at the store.
Who can apply and how?
people with a diagnosis in hand of diabetes, blood pressure or other metabolic pathologyand are also registered in NYC CareNew York City’s medical plan, administered by Health+Hospitals, already has the main “ticket” to see if they can participate in this program.
NYC Care guarantees free and low-cost services offered at the City’s eleven public hospitals, to those who do not qualify for or cannot afford health insurance, based on federal guidelines.
This initiative is the largest in the country to ensure health care for New Yorkers, regardless of your immigration status or ability to pay.
Now with ‘Groceries to go’, these policyholders can choose to have facilities for bring more healthy products to your table.
In summary, participants receive monthly credits to purchase eligible groceries from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from local merchants and pay service fees and delivery costs.
Registrants also receive a 50% discount on purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables using your credits. Participants can save up to $30 per month with this discount.
The beneficiaries in households of one to two people receive an average of $110 per month, in the case of households with three or more members could receive $270 per month.
Any credit that accumulates from the month will carry over to the next period for as long as participants are enrolled in the program.
The Groceries to Go program plans to reach up to 5,000 residents of the five counties of the Big Apple.
The buying process
It’s all accomplished from a digital grocery platform called Market.
This is the first experience in the country where neglected and vulnerable communities to food insecurity can have access to an ‘online’ inventory of products online, in 225 grocery stores in the cityunder the criteria of encouraging a healthy diet.
“As a New York native and the son of a Brooklyn grocery store manager, I am excited to be a part of this network that improves access to quality food for underprivileged communities. At the same time, local retailers are provided with a new sales channel”said Bobby Brannigan, founder of Mercato.
Many of the small independent supermarkets participating in this nutritional health scheme had not previously had access to to the functionality of e-commerce.
In this sense, Elizabeth Solomon, DOHMH director of nutrition programsponders that the novelty of this strategy, which joins various policies to deal with food insecurity and the prevention of chronic diseases, is the use of technology to facilitate access to these products.
“Healthy eating is a great challenge for New Yorkers, since the marketing of low-nutritious products is widespread throughout the city. Our goal is to make it easier for New Yorkers to make healthy choices.Solomon remarked.
For his part, he Dr Jonatán Jimenez, spokesperson for Health+Hospitals He ponders that in the specific case of Hispanic communities there is still a very deep rooting to consider, that if meat, stir-fry, flour is not included in a dish, then it has not “eaten well”.
“We have to recognize that for very low-income people, it is very difficult to access a healthy diet. This program is part of this effort that is aimed not only at promoting and putting healthier foods in homes, but promote a cultural change. Here we also address a mobility issue for many elderly people who cannot go shopping. But also, an economic issueJimenez reasoned.
there is more awareness
For him Dr Ashwin Vasancommissioner of DOHMH, the pandemic has made abundantly clear how people with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart diseasewere much more punished by the viral infection.
All records match a high mortality rate and serious illnesses to those who had these pre-existing conditions and became infected with COVID-19. A group that also crossed “several borders”, due to their socioeconomic conditions in the midst of the most appalling public health crisis of the modern era: food insecurity and a lot of distress.
“During the pandemic, many health challenges of the most economically vulnerable New Yorkers. And precisely the ‘Groceries to go’ program is just one of the options offered by the City to break the barriers of food insecurity, in some neighborhoods of the Big Apple”, reasons the main doctor of the City.
Vasan outlines that it is a battle in the middle of a system dominated by a food industry that prioritize processed products and a city with very easy access to junk and unhealthy food.
“But regardless of those giant barriers, I am sure that our city is a leader in policies to change these paradigms. There is a higher level of awareness in the communities and in the diverse cultures that coexist here, about the importance of eating healthier”Vasan explains.
Statistically remarkably, Latino communities in the Big Apple suffer from health problems such as type 2 diabetes, pre diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity-related conditions.
Therefore, New York City has put the accelerator on programs that try to promote a better nutritional lifestyle.
In fact, since last year the expansion of the strategy called, ‘plant-based medicine’, that began to adapt to the NYC Health + Hospitals network in its headquarters Jacobi, Lincoln, Woodhull, Kings County, and Elmhurst, as well as Gotham Health and Vanderbilt.
In general, an interdisciplinary approach is being taken to reduce cardiometabolic risk in adult patients: A team of doctors, nutritionists and consultants in different areas, help patients make lifestyle changesincluding adopting a healthy plant-based diet, increasing physical activity, and improving sleep habits.
Also since last September “culturally diverse plant-based” meals are now the main dinner options for hospitalized patients in Lincoln, Metropolitan and Woodhull.
also introduced the vegan friday program in schools, offering the option of fresh produce and rhealthy recipes to the students of the City’s public education system.
In the slums…
Based on the latest reports, one in eight New Yorkers does not have access to an adequate amount of food. That translates to more than one million city residents who suffer from “food insecurity”that is, those who at some point have had problems completing their nutrients.
Citing research conducted by the American Community Survey (CHS)it is specified that in 42 South Bronx neighborhoodswhere the majority of residents are low income and people of color: a large proportion admit that they almost never eat quality vegetables and fruits.
The report details that the 95% of adults surveyedby telephone, suffer from a problem associated with bad nutrition.
“It is expected that the population of 65 years or older grow by 40% between 2010 and 2040. A large proportion of seniors residing in New York City live in poverty, including 25% of seniors in the Bronx”details the survey.
In short: How to apply?
- To enroll in ‘Groceries to Go’ you must be a New York City resident and a member of Health + Hospitals NYC Care and meet some eligibility criteria based on diagnoses of chronic conditions.
- Call the Groceries to Go program at (347) 665-0175
- Complete the Groceries to Go interest form and a customer service representative will contact you
- For more information, send an email to [email protected] .
Diabetes and high blood pressure in NYC:
- 12.5% is the prevalence of diabetes among New York City adults according to the Community-Based Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC HANES).
- 8.7% of cases are diagnosed and 3.8% remain undiagnosed.
- 1 in 4 adult New Yorkers have high blood pressure (hypertension) which can usually go unnoticed as it usually causes no symptoms. Groups most at risk include people over the age of 65 years old, black and Latino. This is revealed by a DOHMH report
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