A local organization recently got a grant to help area residents who have diabetes. (Photo: Contributed)

A local nonprofit just landed a $35,000 grant to create a nutrition and wellness program that will help people with diabetes who don't have access to health insurance. 

Volunteers in Medicine Chattanooga, a free clinic that provides primary and preventive health care to financially eligible individuals and families who don't have insurance, was one of 33 organizations across the country to be awarded a CVS Health Foundation Grant.

More information 

—The organization serves people between the ages of 19 and 64 who are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. 

—Services are provided by licensed medical professionals who donate their time without charge to Volunteers in Medicine Chattanooga patients.

—For more information about how to start the program, click here, call 423-855-8220 or go by the clinic, which is located at 5705 Marlin Road, Suite 1400.  

"We are thrilled to be recognized by the CVS Health Foundation as a recipient of a CVS Health Foundation Grant," Executive Director Ashley Evans said. "The foundation’s support makes it possible for our organization to continue helping our diabetic patients manage this chronic disease."

If left untreated, diabetes can cause the loss of limbs, blindness and kidney failure, she said. 

But many of the organization's patients ignore chronic conditions because they don't have the resources to make it to appointments.

In 2016, the organization treated more than 100 patients with diabetes through medication oversight, diet plans and quarterly education talks.

Of those patients, about 70 percent maintained or reduced their blood sugar to normal levels.  

The grant will be used to develop, implement and evaluate a lifestyle education program specifically to help patients prevent, reverse and manage diabetes.

It will allow the organization to work with 60 patients and do a 21-day food program in which the participants stay on a plant-based diet. The organization will provide lunch and dinner to participants for the 21 days. That will be coupled with weight loss and nutrition classes, as well as health screenings. 

"I don't expect a lot of people will stick with being completely vegan after this, but ... [we're hoping] that when people see they've lost weight and their diabetes might be completely under control that will make an impact on them," Evans said. 

The program is set to start in May.