Starving to saving: Community health program changes woman’s life

Groceries are expensive

(March is National Nutrition Month. Find out more about Community Health Team services, registration and appointment booking HERE.)

Alix Speirs and her son were stuck on the continuous poverty cycle of feast then famine. 

Living on a low income, when she got money she would spend it on pre-made and junk food right away, without saving anything for the following weeks.

This past year, Speirs was put on insulin as treatment for her diabetes. Recently, she went back to the diabetes clinic and was told she must start keeping track of her blood sugars, which inspired her to make adjustments to her lifestyle.

That’s when Speirs’s occupational therapist recommended the Making the Most of Your Food Dollar series. 

“This program pulled all of these elements that I’ve been trying to pull together my whole life, and finally made them manageable and cohesive for me. It was the epiphany I needed to really make some lifestyle changes,” Speirs said. 
The Making the Most of your Food Dollar series is a Community Health Team (CHT) initiative created to help those unable to balance a healthy diet due to food insecurity. 

The program teaches participants how to get the most value from the money they have budgeted for food, so they can live an active and healthy life. This includes how to develop a meal plan, as well as how to budget time and food waste through efficient planning and shopping techniques.

Spiers said she had attended CHT programs before, but her severe environmental sensitivities restricted her ability to remain in the classroom with a group of people for long periods of time. 

This time around, Speirs described her experience with CHT as “life-changing.”

“I have so many limitations to get out and participate in group activities, but Jacklynn (wellness facilitator) did everything she could to make me feel like my concerns were valid, and she made accommodations that made it possible for me to stay.”

Speirs also suffers from delayed sleep phase syndrome, which causes inconsistencies in her daily schedule.
With help from Jacklynn and Making the Most of Your Food Dollar, Speirs was able to break free from the vicious cycle in which she was caught, and learned how to adjust meal plans based on her own sporadic schedule.
“Next thing I know I’m eating better and routinely, I’m sustaining my systems more effectively, and I’m even taking my medication regularly. As a result, I’m able to accomplish more every day, and I’m able to do the things I love to do that I haven’t been able to do in a very long time,” she explained.

With her new schedule, Speirs now has room to incorporate physical activity into her daily routine, which is something she never had the time or energy to do before.

“I’m so grateful for the impact this program has had on my life — the difference it has made is a true blessing.”

Speirs’s positive experience motivated her to sign up for another CHT program called Cooking for Two, and she is thrilled to learn numerous, practical recipes for her and her son. 

“Programs like these are wonderful inspirations. If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, get out and take advantage of these incredible opportunities.”