Mission Hills Has One of Four Diabetes Food Banks in the U.S.

| August 2, 2016 | 0 Comments
Ruth Henricks had vision and the tenacity to start a diabetic pantry to serve San Diegans.

Ruth Henricks had vision and the tenacity to start a diabetic pantry to serve San Diegans.

Several years ago the idea was seeded in Ruth Henricks’ mind. 20 percent of the clients of her Special Delivery service are diabetic, which means they need not only to receive specific diets, but to learn how to eat for health. Her clients are not generally people with bountiful funds, and yet the requirements for diabetic meals emphasize produce, whole grains fish, white meats, and the more expensive foods.

It had been Henricks’ good fortune to meet Jennifer Gilmore (whom Henricks refers to as “Saint Jennifer”). Gilmore is the executive director of Kitchens for Good, and past executive director of Feeding America San Diego. Gilmore has led efforts to expand emergency food distribution to communities affected by limited access to grocery stores and farmers’ markets, low wages and the high cost of quality food. Gilmore gave Henricks a lot of information and contacts. Henricks then traveled to one of the three existing diabetic food services in the U.S., which was located in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Her initial goal was to determine the means and ways of creating a similar service in San Diego. While in Texas, Henricks met a family with a small foundation that offered to fund a startup here in San Diego. Voila; San Diego benefits from Henricks’ vision and tenacity.

Today, San Diego’s diabetic clients can participate in weekly, educational meetings. The meetings teach them about healthy lifestyles, from mental to physical to foods. After attending the meeting, they are given a “ticket” and welcomed to the special food van with a diabetic pantry to shop for their week’s food needs. According to Henricks’, the diabetic pantry is already realizing substantial results with clients moving off diabetic medicines and restoring healthy glucose readings naturally.

Support is beginning to expand as the value and careful management of the program is being recognized for its benefit and successes. Stores are donating, including Trader Joe’s, which has been donating to Special Delivery even before the diabetic pantry existed. However, with increasing funding and donations, Henricks can expand this needed service to a larger proportion of San Diego’s population.

Special Delivery was founded in 1991 and is a non-profit that, thanks to the efforts of volunteers, guarantees 91 cents of every dollar donated is put into meals and care for clients. It provides meals to medically homebound people living with AIDS, diabetes, cancer and other critical illnesses throughout the San Diego community. The volunteer staff helps to keep overhead low and maintain its strict commitment to serving the clientele it’s committed to.

Volunteers and donors are invited to call Ruth Henricks at The Huddle, a Mission Hills restaurant institution for decades. She can be reached at (619) 291-5950.

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