The matching grant supports SDRI’s new vegetable prescription program.

Sansum Diabetes Research Institute (SDRI) is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation to help launch Farming For Life, SDRI’s comprehensive ‘food as therapy’ program prescribing locally-grown organic vegetables to low-income individuals with diabetes.

The Hearst Foundation grant brings SDRI a big step closer to meeting a requirement of a $400,000 grant awarded earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, paying half of Farming For Life’s programming costs and requiring matching funds to be raised locally.

“This grant money from the Hearst Foundation is a huge contribution to that matched funding and is critical for us,” said Farming For Life Project Coordinator Mary Kujan.

“The Hearst Foundation is pleased to be supporting a cutting-edge program, like Farming For Life, which has local implications for Santa Barbara but also the potential of replication in other communities to address the heavy burdens of chronic disease and food insecurity,” stated the Hearst Foundation.

Farming For Life uses a three-pronged approach uniting healthcare, social services, and agriculture. Beginning in January 2019 and over the next several years, residents of Santa Barbara County living with type 2 diabetes will be invited to participate in the innovative program.

Organic vegetables grown at Fairview Gardens, John Givens Farm, and other local farms will be provided free in return for health data. Farming For Life participants will present their produce prescriptions at the Fresh Food Pharmacy located at Unity Shoppe of Santa Barbara. Participants then select a week’s worth of vegetables–enough to feed their entire family. At recruitment and over the course of programming, measurements will be taken to determine changes in diabetes control, food security and overall health. SDRI is working to expand the scope of Farming For Life with additional vegetable distribution locations in the future.

SDRI’s Farming For Life pilot study demonstrated dramatic results: “From a clinical standpoint, we saw an impressive decrease in both blood pressure and waist circumference, both which are measurements highly indicative of risk for cardiovascular disease,” explained Kujan. “We also noticed changes in food security with the majority of the participants reporting an overall improvement. Based on this we are very confident that Farming For Life can absolutely improve the health of those with type 2 diabetes.”

The full-scale, three-month phase of Farming For Life begins in January 2019.

SDRI is looking to approve 100 adult participants who have or are at high risk for type 2 diabetes and are not currently being treated with insulin.

Potential program participants may contact Mary Kujan, Project Coordinator–Farming for Life: (805) 682-7640 ext. 243 or mkujan@sansum.org.

SDRI also received continued support from the Santa Barbara Foundation this year which contributes to the required matched funding for Farming For Life.

SDRI is currently in pursuit of additional matching funds. Foundations, corporations and individuals interested in helping SDRI with matching funds to launch Farming for Life are encouraged to contact Sheba Laser Lux, SDRI Grants Director: (805) 452-3159 or slux@sansum.org.