Closing the Gap in Diabetes Disparities in the Latino Community

January 25, 2023

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  • Type 2 diabetes is one of today's most widespread diseases, impacting more than 33 million people in the United States.
  • The Latino population faces significant disparities in diabetes care, outcomes, and food insecurity. 
  • Providence Milwaukie Community Teaching Kitchen is partnering with Providence CORE to evaluate the impacts of its Spanish Language Culinary Nutrition and Gardening Education pilot project.
  • The research will inform this and other culturally-responsive programs designed to close the gaps in diabetes disparities in the Latino community. 

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition impacting more than 33 million people in the United States alone. It’s one of today's most widespread and fastest-growing diseases, with potentially devastating impacts. For Latinos, the risks are even greater. According to the CDC, more than half of Latino adults are expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. Not only is this population more likely to get type 2 diabetes, but they are more likely to develop the disease at a younger age and experience related complications. Furthermore, while a healthy diet and exercise are essential to managing diabetes, food insecurity also disproportionately impacts Latinos, exacerbating these challenges.

A culturally-specific diabetes education program for Spanish speakers

The Providence Community Teaching Kitchen (CTK) in Milwaukie, Oregon, is working to close these gaps through a new culturally-responsive pilot program offered in Spanish and English. Since opening in 2016, the CTK has provided diabetes education, culinary classes, access to healthy foods, and other support to patients and community members. Earlier this year, the CTK launched its Spanish-language culinary nutrition and gardening pilot program to better serve the area’s large Latino population.

The program, a partnership with local nonprofit, Growing Gardens, includes two six-week Spanish-language workshops: one focused on nutrition and cooking for diabetes and another focused on gardening, with the goal of teaching about growing healthy food, physical activity, stress management, and social connectedness.

In October 2022, the CTK celebrated its first season in the garden with music from Son de Cuba, plus food and fresh salsa from the garden!

Building evidence to shape more effective diabetes interventions

In addition to offering a resource to the local community, the pilot presents an opportunity to study the program’s real-world impacts. Thanks to a grant from the William E. and Thelma F. Housman Foundation, researchers at the Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE) will evaluate the program with a focus on participants’ experiences and the impacts of participation on diabetes-related health and well-being. 

"The Spanish Language Culinary Nutrition Gardening pilot program is an exciting reflection of Providence’s commitment to building trusting relationships with underserved communities,” explains Heidi Davis, program manager for the Providence Milwaukie Community Teaching Kitchen. “Our partnership with CORE will help us better understand Spanish-speaking community members’ needs and experiences with this program so that we can shape even more effective culturally-specific and responsive strategies to meet the region’s health-related and social needs.”

As part of the evaluation, CORE will use a combination of survey data and Photovoice, a community-based participatory research method that uses participant photography to guide interviews. Through this research, CORE will gain insights directly from participants about the experience and impacts of the program. Results will be used to continue shaping culturally responsive diabetes education for the Latino population at the CTK and to spread key lessons to help other systems and organizations meet this essential need and reduce disparities in diabetes care and outcomes. 

This evaluation builds on CORE's partnerships developed through the Merck Providence Diabetes Collaborative Impact Initiative and the Data for Change program. Growing Gardens was one of the organizations in the first Data for Change cohort.

Related Resources and Information

●      Find Oregon Diabetes Health and Information Services at Providence

●      Learn more about the Community Teaching Kitchen at Providence Milwaukie Hospital

●      Learn more about Growing Gardens

●      News article: Music, tomatoes: Both types of salsa on tap at Milwaukie garden, Clackamas Review, Sept 2022



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