A partnership between the IU Center for Rural Engagement, faculty researchers, local physicians, and a rural cooperative grocery is producing a nutrition prescription program designed to improve health outcomes and access to local food.
As Collin Spear unpacked an assortment of produce from a nutrition box, he chuckled about his new-found role as a cooking instructor. “Sometimes they call me Mr. Spear,” said the 17-year-old Lost River Market and Deli employee of the group of residents participating in a new farm-to-health food prescription initiative.
Spear and the team at Lost River Market and Deli are working with Indiana University food systems researchers and healthcare providers from Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) to create this new initiative, known as the Lost River Local Cooking and Nutrition Education Box program, to residents striving for improved health.
SICHC providers and the chronic care management nurse refer patients managing type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes who could benefit from greater access to fresh vegetables and nutrition education. Lost River Market and Deli creates nutrition boxes packed with local ingredients along with recipes and lessons on cooking methods that improve the nutritional balance of their meals.
IU Sustainable Food Systems Science researchers are analyzing qualitative and quantitative evaluation data generated by this initiative, together with the IU School of Public Health Biostatistics Consulting Center. In partnership with SICHC, the team conducts pre- and post-intervention biometric measures—including cholesterol and lipid panel, hemoglobin A1c and body weight—for participants and the comparison group. The team is also assessing participants’ consumption, purchase, and cooking of fruits and vegetables, and their perspectives on the design and delivery of the Lost River Local program and educational resources.