While Connecticut’s rate of Type 2 diabetes is below the national average, 8% to 9.3% respectively, this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story. As an averaged sum, this data does not reflect the vast disparities across the state. In Connecticut the diabetes rate for non-Hispanic White residents is only 6%, but for Hispanic and African-American residents that rate is above 14% each. People in households with an income under $25,000 are 2.3 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than people in households making over $75,000. With many low income and people of color living in urban areas, diabetes has become a rising issue for our cities.
New Haven Farms has taken a holistic approach to addressing diabetes by converting a vacant urban space into an agricultural center where healthy lifestyles can be taught and practiced. Partnered healthcare providers, such as Fairhaven Community Health Center and Cornell Scott Health Center, can prescribe participation in the program to those who meet certain requirements that highlight them as “at-risk”. The four month program consists of hands-on urban agriculture and classes that teach food nutrition and healthy cooking skills. Through the program participants learn about the food they eat, from seed to salad, plus they get a weekly share of the produce they helped grow! The program can be conducted in both English and Spanish and also includes kid-friendly styled activities and classes. This is essential because the program’s success is seen as reliant on the fact that it is a family focused approach, our loved ones are sometimes the best inspiration for change and growth. Of course exercise is as crucial to a healthy lifestyle as a good diet, thus a total of 150 hours of aerobic exercise must be completed through the program as well. It will be exciting to see how the program grows from here. Last year they were able to double their food production space so there are no signs of slowing down.