Creating a Healthy Community

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The new Ebenezer Diabetic-Friendly Food Pantry will provide more low-sodium, low-carb, less-processed foods.

In the United States, diabetes is a growing epidemic.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the disease affects 25.8 million people in the United States – that’s roughly 8.3 percent of the population. In Wisconsin, that figure jumps to 10.4 percent.

But Columbia St. Mary’s, in partnership with Ebenezer Church of God in Christ, is spearheading a unique initiative to help combat the disease in Milwaukee. 

In late November, the two organizations opened a food pantry at the Ebenezer Church Community-based Chronic Disease Management (CCDM) clinic on north Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. Today, they are in the process of transforming it into a one-of-a-kind diabetic-friendly food pantry. 

“The unfortunate truth about food pantries is demand is increasing while funding and supply are decreasing,” says Bill Solberg, Director of Community Services at Columbia St. Mary's. “This makes it harder for people to be selective about their food choices.”

Most food pantries are forced to rely heavily on canned foods high in sodium and sugar – ingredients that are harmful for diabetics.

The new Ebenezer Diabetic-Friendly Food Pantry, which is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 2-5 p.m., will provide more low-sodium, low-carb, less-processed foods. It will also offer more fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as regular cooking classes to show patrons how to prepare a healthy meal. 

 
Dietary techs from Milwaukee Area Technical College will be on site every other week to consult with the food pantry patrons.

In addition to the Ebenezer CCDM staff, dietary techs from Milwaukee Area Technical College will be on site every other week to consult with the food pantry patrons. They’ll even accompany them as they shop to help them make healthy choices since it will be a “choice pantry” where patrons actually shop for their own groceries.  

The Under 7 Club, a weekly diabetes support group, rounds out the diabetic-specific programs, making the Ebenezer Church of God in Christ an essential, one-stop resource center for those dealing with diabetes. 

“As far we know, nothing like this exists in the city, but it makes all the sense in the world,” says Solberg. “From healthy food to expert instruction, this new food pantry has all the resources someone with diabetes needs to live a long and healthy life.”

Columbia St. Mary’s Foundation has been proud to support the Ebenezer Food Panty through donor gifts and now you can, too. At 19 cents a pound, a donation of just $20 will buy over 100 pounds of healthy, diabetic-friendly food for people in need. 

 

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