Changing Lives in Chattanooga – Oasis Jumpstart Provides Food, Education & Hope
In 2016, the nonprofit PlantPure Communities (PPC) created the Oasis Jumpstart Program to bring healthy food and science-based nutrition education to underserved neighborhoods across the country. The Oasis Program offers participants the opportunity to learn about the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet while experiencing the powerful health impacts firsthand. The Oasis Pilots are modeled on the Jumpstarts documented in the 2015 film PlantPure Nation. PPC is working with faith-based groups, food banks, businesses, government entities, health systems, PlantPure Pods and local nonprofits to carry out neighborhood-wide Jumpstarts that are affordable. To date, Oasis pilots have been completed in Atlanta, GA; Providence, RI; Chattanooga, TN; and Bullhead City, AZ.
In July of 2017 PPC partnered with the nonprofit Volunteers in Medicine Chattanooga (VIM Chattanooga) in Chattanooga, TN, and over the next ten months completed a series of four successful Oasis Pilot Jumpstarts. VIM Chattanooga is a free full service medical clinic that provides primary and preventive health care to low-income individuals and families who otherwise have no access to public or private health insurance. In response to high rates of diabetes in its patient population, VIM Chattanooga launched a unique Lifestyle Education to Address Diabetes (LEAD) initiative with the first Oasis Pilot Jumpstart to help patients prevent, reverse, and manage diabetes. VIM Chattanooga received a generous $35,000 grant from the CVS Health Foundation to fund the program.
This partnership with VIM Chattanooga marked the first time PPC conducted an Oasis Pilot Jumpstart with a medical facility, which provided easy access to medical personnel and resources. Through the leadership and expertise of Ashley Evans, VIM Chattanooga’s Executive Director, and Dr. Lilly Tryon, Associate Professor of Nursing at Southern Adventist University who ran the day-to-day program, participants received life-changing nutrition and lifestyle education.
“Underserved populations have been left behind for too long. Healthy lifestyles are difficult to maintain, but by providing a structured diet, nutrition information, and support, the Oasis JumpStart participants are now more than capable of changing their lives.”
During the 21 days of the Jumpstart, Dr. Tryon and a team of nurse practitioner students provided participants with nutrition education, cooking demos, twice-weekly meetings, and motivational text messages. Participants also benefited from educational sessions led by James Marcum, MD, Director of Heartwise Ministries (who also serves on the PPC Board of Advisors), and Michael Hollie, MD, who serves on the board of directors of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. Biometric testing was conducted at the beginning and end of the Jumpstart. In addition, each participant’s biometric data was tracked at 3-month intervals for twelve months. Dr. Tryon also created a PlantPure Communities Pod to provide the important ongoing support participants need to maintain their new lifestyle.
Executive Director Ashley Evans recognizes the barriers that often lead to poorer diabetes outcomes for disadvantaged patients and drive healthcare costs even higher. “Underserved populations have been left behind for too long. Healthy lifestyles are difficult to maintain, but by providing a structured diet, nutrition information, and support, the Oasis JumpStart participants are now more than capable of changing their lives,” she said.
Nearly every participant had a drop in their A1C, with an average of drop of .5%. Together they lost 83 lbs and 6.75 inches from their waistlines.
By the end of the 21-days, all 12 participants in the first Jumpstart saw positive changes in their health. Nearly every participant had a drop in their A1C, with an average of drop of .5%. Together they lost 83 lbs and 6.75 inches from their waistlines. Although the participants joined the program to address diabetes, there have been many other positive outcomes, such as increased energy, improved gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, lower cholesterol levels, and discontinued or decreased blood pressure and diabetes medications. Lisa, a participant who was particularly concerned about developing diabetes, proudly exclaimed, “I was prediabetic–but not anymore!”
Dr. Tryon believes that the most rewarding results are the changes in diet and behavior. One participant stated, “I am eating right for the first time, and I feel good again.” Her favorite comment was a text message received from Lynda about two weeks after the Jumpstart ended, “We are doing great and love our new way of eating. Thank you for helping us. It has changed our lives forever.”
According to Jody Kass, executive director of PlantPure Communities, “food-borne chronic disease in underserved neighborhoods is a fixable problem with science-based nutrition education, delicious plant-based recipes and meals, and hands-on learning,”
PPC wants to make sure everyone has access to healthy food and nutrition education, regardless of their background, location, or socioeconomic status.
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