Helping Low-Income Americans Fight Diabetes

Laura and John Arnold Foundation Provides Funding

January 6, 2016

Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, has begun a new clinical research trial to help low-income Americans better manage and control type 2 diabetes.

The trial is taking place at three Feeding America member food banks:  the Houston Food Bank in Texas, The Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, California and Gleaner’s Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan in Detroit.  Feeding America is partnering with the Center for Vulnerable Populations at the University of California, San Francisco, and the Urban Institute to conduct the trial.

Diabetes affects over 29 million adults and children in the U.S. today, and research shows that individuals who are low-income and food-insecure have an increased risk of developing diet-sensitive chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, and are at higher risk for poor management of these chronic diseases.  

The clinical trial—named the Feeding America Intervention Trial for Health—Diabetes Mellitus (FAITH-DM)—is being overseen by Dr. Hilary Seligman, lead scientist and senior medical advisor at Feeding America. Seligman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the health implications of food insecurity. Her work focuses on the intersection between food insecurity and health, particularly on the prevention and management of chronic disease.

“This is a giant step forward for our organization. Recent studies show us that millions of low-income Americans need our grocery and meal programs on a consistent, ongoing basis to help feed themselves and their families. Research also tells us that low-income and food-insecure households have significantly higher rates of nutrition-related diseases than the general public,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “Our study Hunger in America 2014 found that 33 percent of the households we serve include at least one person with diabetes. We believe the time has now come that we must address the health needs of those we serve.”

FAITH-DM is a two year, randomized controlled trial that spans from 2015-2017. This new research trial builds on the results from a previous observational study conducted by Feeding America between 2011 and 2014. The findings of that study were recently published in the November issue of Health Affairs.

The goal of FAITH-DM will be to determine to what extent food bank-based interventions can improve glycemic control for clients living with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.  The study will also investigate how effective the intervention is on improving other diabetes outcomes. 

There are four major components of the FAITH-DM intervention:

  • Screening for diabetes and monitoring of glycemic control.
  • Distributing diabetes-appropriate food, amounting to enough food to last one or two weeks per distribution.
  • Referring clients who lacked a usual source of medical care to primary care providers;
  • Providing diabetes self-management support and education.

The clinical trial is funded by a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.


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About Feeding America

Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 40 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco. Please visit