PICKENS — Clemson University’s Joseph F. Sullivan Center is offering produce boxes and a lifestyle medicine curriculum to patients in its WiseWoman Program to expand its heart health education efforts for underserved and underinsured populations.
The center piloted the distribution of the produce boxes on a small scale in the community last spring, and it now supports up to 50 participants a week. The lifestyle medicine aspect of the program was initially offered to employees on Clemson’s campus, but the center’s staff have pushed it off campus because of its benefits to populations in need.
The program is founded on the principles of lifestyle medicine that encompasses changes including diet and exercise to benefit an individual’s health and treat health-related issues. Megan Kyle, nurse practitioner and mobile outreach program coordinator at the Sullivan Center, said the program is designed to help change the way people think about their own health.
“We want to flip people’s mindset from playing catch up with their disease to thinking about promoting their wellness, whatever their personal definition of wellness is,” Kyle said. “We want to teach people that they have power over their health outcomes and we believe that underserved populations can thrive with lifestyle medicine in spite of limited resources, and we have seen their success in the pilot program.”
Kyle said lifestyle medicine is the foundation for the center’s approach because it impacts all health-related conditions and has the most potential to mitigate negative health outcomes from any disease. The expanded WiseWoman program helps achieve the land-grant university mission of community outreach, research and education, as well as the Clemson Extension Service’s mission of providing university knowledge to the public.
Women enrolled in the traditional WiseWoman Program, which has been offered for the last five years, receive six follow-up education sessions, either over the phone or in person. However, those who choose to receive a produce box will have 12 weeks of follow-up education following a lifestyle medicine curriculum.
The added lifestyle medicine curriculum includes nutrition, physical activity, a body composition test and individualized meal planning and chronic condition management in addition to cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C screenings, which are offered in the traditional WiseWoman program. Women in the expanded program can bring a friend to participate in the program with them.
At each visit, patients receive a produce box with locally sourced produce to give patients “traditional” fruits or vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli or grapes, as well as a “new” fruit or vegetable to expand their diet, such as Swiss chard, mangoes, chayotes or Adirondack blue potatoes.
The WiseWoman program and addition of produce boxes is offered through a partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Program visits are led by Clemson health Extension agents and recreational therapists from the Sullivan Center.
The classes meet at the Clemson Extension offices in Pickens 3-4 p.m. Mondays and 3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursdays in Greenville.
For more information about the program, contact the Sullivan Center at 864-656-3076 or to schedule a visit, call 864-710-6661.