North Tulsa Food is Medicine Program celebrates first year helping diabetics improve their health

Leaders with North Tulsa Food is Medicine are celebrating their first year helping participants with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes by providing fresh local produce and training to help them prepare it.

As seen in the Tulsa World
by Ashley Jones

FreshRx was designed to help those on SoonerCare who have uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, determined by A1C measurements. In 12 months, 30 of 40 participants saw reduced A1C numbers through the program that prioritizes fresh food and health education.

Participants attended monthly nutrition and cooking classes, as well as received fresh local produce every two weeks for the yearlong program. FreshRx also followed up quarterly to measure participants’ A1C, blood pressure and weight changes.

The program began on July 13 last year as a partnership with Crossover Health Services and Good Samaritan at the Tulsa Dream Center. On Wednesday, 40 participants graduated from the program.

“These people are at extreme risk for a catastrophic health event, whether it’s heart attack, stroke, kidney failure or even amputation,” FreshRx Director and local gerontologist Erin Martin said.

In addition to the 75% whose A1C levels were reduced, 18 participants became controlled diabetics — meaning their A1C went below 8, with an average A1C reduction of 2.2%.

“It is estimated that if you lower someone’s A1C level by 1% to 2% in the year, you’re actually saving the state upwards of $24,000 or more per person because you’re preventing a lot of other health costs”
-Erin Martin
Lowering State Health Costs in Oklahoma

The program is expanding. The first year saw $185,000 raised, with local funders doubling and tripling their contributions to bring in an additional $300,000 going forward, Martin said.

Going into year two, FreshRx will serve 100 participants at three north Tulsa clinics: Crossover Health Services, Community Health Connection and Good Samaritan at the Tulsa Dream Center.

“We’re really excited to expand,” Martin said. “We believe that this program should be a permanent part of our health care infrastructure.”