Tag Archives: Natalie Copeland

The Diabetic Food Pantry Opens

Lexington Medical Center, Harvest Hope Food Bank and the American Diabetes Association are working together to establish the first diabetic food pantry in South Carolina. Opening this week, the D2 & Me Diabetic Food Pantry will allow community members in need with diabetes to pick up special boxes of healthy staple foods and fresh produce that are diabetic friendly.

The idea for the diabetic food pantry came from Natalie Copeland, a Lexington Medical Center employee who has type 2 diabetes and created a health and wellness group called “D2 & Me” for diabetics in the Midlands.

Learn about the pantry and meet Natalie, along with Lexington Medical Center diabetes Educator Karissa Belk, in this WIS-TV news story.

 

Recipients at the diabetic food pantry will get boxes that include peanut butter, brown rice, dry pinto beans, oats, Corn Flakes cereal, milk, mandarin oranges, unsweetened applesauce, whole wheat spaghetti noodles, green beans, tomatoes, carrots and chicken. They will also receive a packet with recipes, a brochure about diabetes from the American Diabetes Association, and a schedule of D2 & Me meetings.

For now, the program is working with three pilot pantries where community members will pick up the diabetic food boxes: Church of Christ Sunset Boulevard in West Columbia; Sharing God’s Love in Irmo; and Mission of Hope in Cayce. People who are interested in receiving the boxes should contact Harvest Hope’s Columbia office at (803) 254 – 4432. People who donate to Harvest Hope should consider donating some of the diabetic-friendly items listed above.

#WISHealthU

South Carolina’s First Diabetic Food Pantry

Lexington Medical Center, Harvest Hope Food Bank and the American Diabetes Association are working together to establish the first diabetic food pantry in South Carolina. Scheduled to open July 1, the D2 & Me Diabetic Food Pantry will allow community members in need with diabetes to pick up special boxes of healthy staple foods and fresh produce that are diabetic friendly.

The idea for the diabetic food pantry came from Natalie Copeland, a Lexington Medical Center employee who has type 2 diabetes and created a health and wellness group called “D2 & Me” for diabetics in the Midlands.

Natalie Copeland

“I learned a lot of people who have diabetes use a food pantry. Sometimes, the food they receive is heavy on carbohydrates. The diabetic food pantry will help to ensure that they receive a nutritional balance of food that will help them manage their diabetes well,” said Copeland.

Recipients at the diabetic food pantry will get boxes that include peanut butter, brown rice, dry pinto beans, oats, Corn Flakes cereal, milk, mandarin oranges, unsweetened applesauce, whole wheat spaghetti noodles, green beans, tomatoes, carrots and chicken. They will also receive a packet with recipes, a brochure about diabetes from the American Diabetes Association, and a schedule of D2 & Me meetings.

“It has always been part of Harvest Hope’s mission to provide quality food for those in need,” said Denise Holland, CEO of Harvest Hope Food Bank. “We are thrilled to be working with Lexington Medical Center and our community partners to help provide for those who are facing the double struggle of diabetes and hunger.”
 
A Lexington Medical Center Foundation grant is providing the first boxes of food for the diabetic food pantry. Community members who donate to Harvest Hope Food Bank are encouraged to bring foods on the diabetic list. There are also opportunities for corporate sponsorships. For information on donations, visit HarvestHope.org or call the Columbia office at (803) 254 – 4432.

“A healthy diet is an important factor in managing diabetes. The American Diabetes Association is pleased to partner with Lexington Medical Center and Harvest Hope to provide resources in support of the diabetic food pantry in South Carolina,” said John Douglas, manager of Community Health Strategies with the American Diabetes Association in Columbia.
 
For now, the program is working with three pilot pantries where community members will pick up the diabetic food boxes: Church of Christ Sunset Boulevard in West Columbia; Sharing God’s Love in Irmo; and Mission of Hope in Cayce. People who are interested in receiving the boxes should contact Harvest Hope’s Columbia office at (803) 254 – 4432.

Eventually, organizers would like to expand the program to all Harvest Hope Food Bank agencies in South Carolina.

Diabetes in South Carolina
In South Carolina, one in eight adults has diabetes. This rate is the seventh highest in the United States. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are also obese.

Diabetes can create a domino effect of complications. High sugar levels in the blood damage small blood vessels and nerves, leading to a risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, leg pain and a loss of sensation in the feet. High sugar levels can also make healing from infections difficult.

If someone has type 2 diabetes, he or she should avoid sweetened drinks, sweets, breads, pastas and white race. Foods that are good for diabetics include fruit, vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, beans and low-fat dairy.

Everyday Hero: Natalie Copeland

When doctors diagnosed Natalie Copeland, manager of Lexington Medical Center’s Cancer Registry, with type 2 diabetes, she quickly got to work learning how to best manage the disease.

“I attended the nutrition consultation and education program at LMC when I was first diagnosed, and I made great progress,” said Natalie.

Eventually, though, she forgot some of what she had learned and started “cheating” on her new lifestyle. Her struggle to get back on track led her to start D2 & Me, a free support and wellness group for people with type 2 diabetes.

Natalie Copeland

“I couldn’t find a support group in the area. So, when hospital dietitian Laura Stepp suggested that I consider starting a group, I decided to give it a go. LMC has been very supportive of my efforts. I could not do half of what I do without the help of the Marketing department, the certified diabetes educators at LMC and Lexington Endocrinology, and Laura.”

D2 & Me isn’t just for people with type 2 diabetes; it’s also for their caregivers. At each meeting, attendees learn ways to improve their quality of life with diabetes. Health care professionals including endocrinologists, diabetes educators and nurses cover a variety of topics, such as carbohydrate counting, diabetic complications, medications and interactions, and diabetic emergencies, as well as conduct grocery store tours. 

“My absolute favorite part of D2 & Me is knowing that I have helped someone. It brings me such joy to hear participants say that a meeting has been valuable to them or that they have made better life choices since they’ve started coming to D2 & Me meetings,” she said.

In addition to educating those with type 2 diabetes and their caregivers, members of D2 & Me encourage and uplift each other. They share in successes and failures.

“You can make a difference in someone’s life simply by taking some of the burden off his or her shoulders and sharing in his or her struggles. The older I get, the more important this work becomes to me. I want to make a difference; I want to hear ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’”  

And so, Natalie isn’t slowing down her efforts to help others. This month, the D2 & Me Diabetic Food Pantry, a collaborative program with Harvest Hope Food Bank and the American Diabetes Association’s Columbia chapter, opens. Natalie hopes to expand this program to all Harvest Hope Food Bank agencies in South Carolina. She also plans to bring D2 & Me meetings to Northeast Columbia and create a program to help diabetics afford costly medications.

“The experiences and knowledge I’ve gained since beginning D2 & Me has been unimaginable. I’m excited to see the growth of D2 & Me, and it feels so good to help others.”