Food As Medicine: A Client Story

Our THRIVES and Emily’s Pantry Nutrition Programs serve people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in most Hudson Valley counties. These programs view food as medicine to reduce the risks of dietary-related illnesses like hypertension, high-cholesterol, diabetes, and other health conditions so our clients can begin to or maintain focus on efforts on taking their medications every day. When clients take their meds, they can reach viral suppression and have undetectable viral loads—which helps our entire community, because “Undetectable Equals Untransmittable.”

A senior citizen woman receives a bag of groceries from a social worker in protective gloves.
Photo for illustrative purposes only, not our actual client.

Last fall, Teresa* relocated from Westchester to Ulster County, and it truly became an all-hands-on-deck effort to ensure she and her spouse (also a PLWHA) were linked to the services they need: Engagement and Supportive Services, Case Management, Transportation, and more. She began attending our monthly nutrition health education sessions just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Teresa has been receiving services at HVCS for 20+ years. She says HVCS “saved my life” and is a safe place to come where she doesn’t feel stigmatized, judged, or helpless. The food we provide in our nutrition programs has been vital to helping ensure that her dietary-related illnesses have been managed and allows her to fill the widening gap between the decreasing SNAP entitlements and her budget. Every month Teresa shares the meal ideas that she and her spouse came up with using the items from the bags we provided. She bravely has tried some new foods (Acorn squash! Quinoa!), with some additional hits and misses along the way. 

Since it was winter, we encouraged Teresa to get out of the house, to be physically active, and to connect with other locals who share similar interests. She has tried mall-walking and has recently joined a book club. Most importantly, she has established care with new providers that she is very happy with, and remains undetectable and virally suppressed.

  –Case report provided by Lissette Otero, Program Supervisor

*not her real name

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.