Addressing health inequities with nutritious food

Gather New Haven

You can learn a lot about the true impact of a nonprofit by talking to its most committed volunteers. For Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation healthy food grant partner, Gather New Haven, that volunteer gem is an endearing woman named Ruth. She was quoted back in 2014 in a New York Times article saying, “I love coming here.” After catching up with her recently, Ruth’s advocacy for the organization and its life-changing programs has not wavered.

Ruth’s journey began back in 2012 when she was referred to the organization’s Farm-Based Wellness program by her doctor at a community health center in Fair Haven, Conn. The intensive, 19-week program demonstrates how participation in growing food, cooking and nutrition education, and behavior change interventions positively impact the health and food security of low-income families.

Her changed diet helped reduce inflammation caused by her rheumatoid arthritis and now, years later as a committed volunteer ambassador (for both the Spanish and English sessions), Ruth is a living example to current program participants that it can work! And she noted her gratitude to Harvard Pilgrim for making it all possible.

The pandemic has exposed health inequities in her urban community, “I have seen many people in my community battle COVID. From pregnant women to older adults. Our community needs garden and education programs like this more than ever to stay healthy. I love coming here, the gardens are peaceful and good for my mental health, too” said Ruth.

This year, Gather New Haven staff and volunteers like Ruth, haven’t let COVID-19 interfere with their mission of bettering health outcome for our CT neighbors. They’ve done an incredible job implementing safe delivery/contact-less pickup and virtual nutrition education options for program participants.

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