January 3, 2013
Syracuse, New York-based AIDS Community Resources (ACR) will participate in a nine-county program across central and Northern New York that will provide a nutrition program for AIDS patients who are now living longer thanks to medical treatment advancements. The five-year grant-funded program combines food vouchers and nutrition education that teaches patients to take better care of their long-term health. Participants receive $50 food vouchers every two weeks and must participate in group and individual nutrition education sessions.
In the sessions, the patients learn to eat more nutritiously by using healthier ways of cooking food. Many of the patients, however, are concerned about the higher cost of a healthier diet, as they are on food stamps and struggle to pay their bills. Nutrition educator Gabrielle Mayfield emphasizes budgeting as a key part of the program, and covers unit pricing, budget shopping, and meal planning as ways the participants can stretch their food dollars.
Steve Wood, community health advocate coordinator at ACR, notes that good nutrition can help address some of the side effects of the medications patients are taking, as the medications can task patient's kidneys, livers, and bones. One patient, HIV-positive since he was a teenager, recently became a vegetarian to lower his cholesterol level. Once prescribed 63 pills three times a day, he is embracing cooking with nutritious options to reduce his cholesterol naturally while learning multiple ways to cook food for a longer and healthier life with AIDS.