The River Food Pantry provides diabetes friendly food during the pandemic

Isaac Hill turned to Second Harvest and The River to help manage his diabetes
Published: Nov. 13, 2020 at 4:10 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Isaac Hill calls the day he was diagnosed with diabetes the scariest day of his life. Hill, who does in-home care work, was with one of his clients at bingo about a year and a half ago when he realized he was having a hard time seeing the numbers clearly. He also noticed he felt like he was in a haze.

A trip to the doctor revealed extremely high blood sugar levels, and Hill said doctors were surprised he was even able to come in given his levels.

That was when Hill decided to make changes to live a healthier lifestyle, including changing what food he eats. Hill turned to the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin’s Diabetes Wellness Program, which gave him access to food boxes packed with diabetes-friendly food. However, with the pandemic, the program was put on hold. That’s when Hill turned to The River Food Pantry in Madison.

“With coming to The River Food Pantry periodically, they were able to assist me with some of the foods I needed to remain and to keep a healthy lifestyle,” Hill said.

Hill said because of his diabetes, he needs to eat foods like fresh vegetables such as broccoli and carrots, and whole wheat, foods The River can help him with.

“I would hate to imagine where would I be without them, probably extremely unhealthy,” Hill said. “I thank God that they have resources like The River Food Pantry.”

Hill also said he’s found assistance through other resources, as well as help from family members.

Hill does have a job, but said having the resource of The River available to him has made things easier during the pandemic.

“Being able to utilize a lot of the resources from the food pantry and different things like that, I’m able to save a bit more to pay bills and different things like that that can be a bit challenging as well,” he said. “I am definitely able to save up a little bit more to take care of some other things that are necessary for me now, especially since COVID-19 hit.”

With the pandemic, Hill is able to pick up his food via a socially distanced drive through in The River’s parking lot. Michael Peters, an employee at the pantry, said they’ve received an increase in donations since the pandemic began.

"We’ve had a lot of people really help out, " Peters said. “We found that stores and even private donors had donated more, we’ve got even more inventory than we had in the past.”

Peters also stepped up to help even more during the pandemic.

“I was a four year volunteer here,” he said. “Once the pandemic started to happen, I was here nearly five days a week, and I found that I’ve always enjoyed helping, but there was a greater need. So I thought I’d bring myself on to staff and help to make a difference that way. Make it a full time decision rather than just a part time.”

Peters also said the community and connections made both with clients and fellow employees at The River make the work rewarding.

Hill said he appreciates everything The River and Second Harvest have done to help him stay healthy.

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