For kids, can a weekly box of fresh food be preventive medicine? A new study aims to answer the question.

For 12-year-old Kate, vegetables used to be, well, “kinda disgusting.”

But she said a recent study she and her family participated in, called Food as Medicine, changed her perspective. When cooked well, she said it turns out they’re pretty good.

food as medicine

Kate and her family, who participated in the Food As Medicine study.

The Food as Medicine study is a collaboration between UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, All In Alameda County, Dig Deep Farms, Alameda County Public Health Department, and ACCFB. The study enrolled 60 children who were pre-diabetic and low-income, and aimed to illuminate how reliable access to fresh, nutritious food can support children’s health and prevent chronic illness like diabetes.

Every Tuesday during the study, Dig Deep Farms delivered all 60 families a box of food filled with whole grains and healthy staples from the Food Bank and fresh vegetables grown by the farm. The boxes also included recipes and cooking tips.

Although the results are not final, Dr. June Tester, who led the study, told the East Bay Times that children who participated in the study reported having a higher interest in eating fresh, local food, as well as foods they were unfamiliar with.

And, it turns out, the program had a positive impact on not just the children participating, but all family members who were receiving the ingredients.

At a recent luncheon to celebrate the study’s conclusion, several parents shared how the fresh food boxes affected their family’s health and well-being.

“I am also a Type 2 diabetic, and I’ve had a lot of health issues that I do not want my children to go through,” said Elizabeth, whose 16-year-old daughter Dolores participated in the study. “The program gives us a chance to open our eyes to not only ingredients but a new way of life.”

The Food As Medicine study is just one of the several ways ACCFB aims to improve the health of Alameda County residents through anti-hunger and nutrition programs. Hunger harms health, and many low-income families live without reliable access to fresh, healthy food that can be a foundation of good health.

From participating in clinical trials to providing medically-tailored boxes of food, the Food Bank and the healthcare community are natural allies. The closer we work together, the healthier and more nourished our community will be.