Some Harris Co. communities struggle to find healthy foods during COVID-19 crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has added a real challenge for those with pre-existing conditions who don’t have easy access to healthy food. Harris Health System is making sure they still get the healthiest meals by adding curbside pickup of fresh groceries and phone consultations about meals.

Doctors say now is as important a time as ever to get your nutrients.

“We want them to stay healthy and really try to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19,” said Melissa Prideaux, MS, RDN, LD for Harris Health System.

At Strawberry Health Center in Pasadena, diabetic patients can normally shop and select their favorite healthy foods, then get nutrition guidance from an expert in person. Since March 25th it has shifted to curbside pickup of prepackaged bags of food and phone consultations about nutrition.

“Stay on schedule eating between 4 to 5 hours—breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Edis Villatoro, a patient educator nurse, adding she goes over what patients should and shouldn’t eat for best health. “[Do eat] the vegetables, the protein, the grains, the dairy, and a serving size of fruit…. [Don’t eat] the sweet pastries—things that can increase our blood sugars—we tell them to avoid those.”

During the coronavirus pandemic it may not be as easy to access healthier foods, but doctors say prioritizing nutrition is worth it.

“People might try to just get what’s available, and the thing to keep in mind is: we still have to stay healthy,” said Prideaux. “That having something like diabetes does make it really difficult COVID-19, and if patients aren’t managing their health and their wellbeing, then they could end up with other issues.”

The Food Farmacy patients receive 30 pounds of fresh fruits and veggies every two weeks. You can see more information on the program here: https://www.2019.harrishealthannualreport.org/