How Season for Sharing helps support Latino health in Maricopa County

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Improving health and providing hope for Latinos, especially older folks, through sustainable disease prevention, education and treatment is the main focus of Esperança. For the last 22 years, the international organization has assisted Arizona families in knowing and preventing the dangers of diabetes.

Diabetes is an urgent health problem among Latinos in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association. Almost 13% of this sector of the population lives with the disease. Additionally, Latinos are 50% more likely to develop the illness throughout their lives, compared with White non-Hispanic folks at 40%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.4 million people ages 18 and older were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2019.

For this reason, Esperança's variety of programs focuses on educating the community about the severity of diabetes, who may be at risk and how to help manage the disease, in addition to having balanced nutrition and the importance of being physically active.

Esperança began serving the Arizona community in 2000 and since its inception has provided health education and resources to most at-risk Latino youth, adults and seniors in Maricopa County. Since its launch, the organization has served more than 50,000 families.

“Our focus is helping people learn to live their healthiest lives, because health is so important and affects all areas of our lives. It's about trying to provide them with information and resources so that they learn to make decisions and lead to a generational change in health that impacts everyone,” said Cindy Quintero, director of health and wellness programs at Esperança.

The organization's promoted community health educators are bilingual and bicultural and come from the communities they serve, according to Quintero. Classes and educational workshops are held where community members are, which include community centers, clinics and schools, as well as hosting sessions in residential areas.

With the help of Republic readers, Season for Sharing has raised and given away almost $72 million to Arizona nonprofits since 1993. Last year, Esperança won a grant from The Arizona Republic's Season for Sharing campaign, which distributed $1.8 million among 164 nonprofit organizations across the state and which was made possible by donations from Arizonans.

With the $7,500 grant, the organization purchased food and materials to package meals as part of its “Stove to Table” program, which provides 200 meals every Tuesday to seniors living in low-income housing. The grant, Quintero said, has allowed them to help seniors struggling with food insecurity.

In addition, part of the grant money was used to purchase seedlings for the group's community garden, which supplies a portion of the food for the seniors program, providing them with fresh fruits and vegetables.

A global organization making a difference in Phoenix

Esperança is a global organization with different programs in Mexico, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Peru. In Phoenix, it is focused on the nutritional needs of the Latino community.

The "Stove to Table" program is one of their newest, organized in collaboration with the César Chávez Foundation, which delivers meals to low-income residents as well.

Esperança launched the program during the pandemic and has evolved from giving seniors a bag of groceries and vegetables to delivering a complete and well-balanced meal to their table.

“At the beginning we started with 50 meals, and the goal was to be able to sustain the program with meals from the garden," Quintero said, adding proudly that with the expansion of the program — 200 per week — the group has begun planting more fruits and vegetables. "Right now we have lettuce and kale, and they are the ones we use in salads. We also have a hibiscus plant, and with it, we make tacos and aguas frescas,” Quintero said.

Another program offered is "Su Salud con Sabor Latino" (Your Health With Latino Flavor). "Basically, there are eight sessions where people learn the basics of nutrition and the importance of physical activity; about portions; why eat certain foods; about sodium and how to limit it. We also have demonstrations of how to cook traditional foods, how to make them healthier,” Quintero said.

The "Diabetes Empowerment Education Program" is an evidence-based diabetes self-management program that was developed to empower Latinos to make informed decisions about their pre-diabetes diagnosis and/or manage their diabetes.

Esperança educators provide workshops on healthy eating, medication adherence, blood sugar control, oral health and stress and depression management.

“The program was designed for people with diabetes, but we implement it for anyone who wants to learn more, because we know that the Hispanic community suffers more from diabetes when compared to other communities,” Quintero added.

Other programs also focus on younger Latinos, like providing nutrition and wellness information that is easily digestible to them. Some programs may focus on mental health and building up self-esteem, while other programs teach children about dental health and provide kids with take-home hygiene kits.

“We go to schools and community centers and give classes on how to brush your teeth, how long you have to do it — basic information that sometimes (children) do not know ... because oral health also affects our health as well as self-esteem,” Quintero said.

All programs are free and run throughout the year.

How to help Esperança

  • Visit Esperanç to see the days and hours of volunteering available.

  • Visit the Facebook page Esperança, where you will find more information on volunteering.

  • Volunteers are needed every Tuesday to cook and pack food for the seniors.

How to donate to Season for Sharing

With the help of Republic readers, Season for Sharing has raised and given away almost $72 million to Arizona nonprofits since 1993.

Ways to give

  • Fill out the secure, online form at

  • Text “SHARING” to 91-999 and click on the link in the text message.

  • Go online at and look for the “DONATE HERE” post.

  • Clip the coupon on Page 4A of The Arizona Republic, fill it out and mail it to P.O. Box 29250, Phoenix AZ 85038-9250.

  • Make a donation when you buy tickets to Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden.

Where does the money go?

When you give to Season for Sharing, you are helping nonprofits that support education, feed the hungry and help struggling families and older adults. The Republic pays all administrative costs, so 100% of donations go back to the community.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Season for Sharing helps support Latino health in Maricopa County