A PARTNERSHIP FOR GOOD NUTRITION
When the San Antonio Food Bank officially unveiled its new Mobile Mercado — a demonstration kitchen and grocery store-on-wheels — it wasn’t surprising that it chose University Health System’s Texas Diabetes Institute, or TDI, for its debut.
TDI and the Food Bank have been strong partners with a common goal — to improve health through good nutrition. Diabetes is a major problem in San Antonio and South Texas, made worse by the fact that healthy food choices are often hard to find — and hard to afford — in neighborhoods hardest hit by the disease.
On World Diabetes Day, Nov. 14, 2016, the Mobile Mercado was introduced to the community at TDI. Customers climbed on board to shop for fresh produce and other healthy foods. In another part of the vehicle, a Food Bank chef prepared healthy meals in the built-in kitchen, with each step visible to those outside on a big-screen television. Those who watched received recipes and a sample of each dish to try.
Since its launch, the Mobile Mercado visits University Health System family health centers and specialty clinics throughout Bexar County each month.
Elsewhere on the Texas Diabetes Institute campus, another joint project also aims to encourage healthy eating. A community garden was restored by the Food Bank in partnership with TDI dietitians and educators, and rededicated in March 2016.
The idea is for members of the community to harvest vegetables from the garden as they need them.
“When people can manage or even prevent diabetes through better life habits, everyone wins,” said Theresa De La Haya, RN, senior vice president of community health and service line programs at University Health System. “Healthy eating is vital to this effort.”
In recognition of its close ties to the Texas Diabetes Institute and its efforts to beat back diabetes in our community, the Food Bank was inducted into the Dr. Saul Treviño Wall of Honor at TDI in 2017.
In presenting the award to Eric Cooper, president and chief executive officer of the Food Bank, Lourdes Castro Ramirez, president of the University Health System Foundation, said: “As the largest hunger-relief organization in Southwest Texas, the San Antonio Food Bank continues to fight hunger and foster good health through food distribution and community education programs that promote healthy eating patterns and active lifestyles.”
Founded in 1980 as the first food bank in Texas, the San Antonio Food Bank helps feed 58,000 individuals a week in a 16-county region.