NORWAY — Western Maine Health is offering a new Food As Medicine program through Stephens Memorial Hospital at 181 Main St.

“I’m excited to be working with community members to make sure they have the quality of life they want, to help them save money, and to live happier, healthier lives,” said Allison Kelly of the program. The free program focuses on preventing diabetes and improving access to healthy, nutritious food, according to a news release from Carl Costanzi with Western Main Health.

Thousands of Oxford County residents have been diagnosed with prediabetes, a health condition that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes affects 11% of Americans and is the most expensive chronic disease in the nation, with $1 out of every $4 spent on health care costs going towards diabetes care for an annual total of $237 billion, according to the release.

A person with diabetes will face an average of $12,000 a year in medical expenses due to their condition. Thankfully, prediabetes can often be reversed — allowing people to enjoy better health and avoid future made more complicated and expensive by diabetes.

Provided through MaineHealth, the new program works with people with prediabetes or at risk for diabetes, and who have limited access to affordable healthy foods. The year-long program helps people to improve their health with nutritious food and lifestyle changes. Eating healthy foods can help not only with prediabetes, but also with high blood pressure and obesity.

The program includes healthy lifestyle coaching through the Diabetes Prevention Program, cooking skills classes through the Cooking Matters program, and weekly bags of healthy food (along with recipes to combine the ingredients into tasty and nutritious meals) through the hospital food pantry.


“Our program is modeled after a very successful Food As Medicine program in Franklin County, which started small and grew to a point where they have a waiting list,” said Costanzi, who oversees the new Oxford County program for Western Maine Health. The Franklin County program focused on people with diabetes rather than prediabetes but included the same essential elements.

The Oxford County program includes classes that meet weekly for four months, then twice a month for the rest of the year. Trained instructor Allison Kelly will provide guidance and encouragement throughout the program. The classes are an hour long and held at the same time each week. The first class has already started and more are being added on additional days and times.

To qualify, a person must be 18 or older, be carrying extra weight, have prediabetes or be at risk for developing type 2 diabetes (but not already have type 2 diabetes), not be pregnant, and have limited access to affordable healthy foods.

To learn more, contact Kelly at or 207-662-9863.


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