As I have explored my passion for health, I have mainly explored nutrition science and less of my luxury of access. To test, purchase, and enjoy healthy food on an everyday basis is a privilege many people in the country can not enjoy.
Food Deserts: “Geographic areas where residents have few to no convenient options for securing affordable and healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Disproportionately found in high-poverty areas, food deserts create extra, everyday hurdles that can make it harder for kids, families, and communities to grow healthy and strong.” (AECF)
Main issues and limitations for those living in food deserts:
- Lack of transportation: not having access to cars or public transit that can take people to a farther grocery store
- Convenience: limited health options near
- economic risk for those opening new grocery stores in these areas – where crime is higher and purchasing power is lower
Impact of Covid-19: Both the limits of and risks associated with public transportation and businesses throughout the pandemic made it more difficult for individuals to acquire healthy food at grocery stores, compounded with an economic crisis where millions lost their flow of income and where kids no longer had school as a free meal source.
In addition, food banks and various forms of food pantries have seen enormous surges in the number of customers who stop by because they have lost their jobs during the pandemic. This has made it extremely difficult for those food banks and pantries to serve all the new customers who are in need of food for themselves and their families.
Prices for Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Foods: For those where money is less of an object, healthy food can be considered an investment. When we eat foods with higher quality proteins and better nutrients, it is more likely we will stay fuller for longer (and potentially needing less food).
Community Outreach: How can You Get Involved?
Vulnerable populations: All different types of people can be considered a part of a vulnerable population, based on their health levels, age, geographic location, race, ethnicity, and more. Though there are some federal and state resources provided to those in need, a lack of access and awareness continues to be a growing problem in the United States. Are you looking to reach out to your community and implement change? There are many organizations and actions you personally can take! See below:
- USDA programs are funded by the federal government
- SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – provides benefits in order to supplement the food budget of families in need so they can purchase healthy food. The allotment of funds depends on household income and income since SNAP helps low-income workers, senior citizens, and the disabled.
- WIC: Women, Infants, and Children – a special nutrition program that provides federal grants to states for supplemental food, healthcare, and nutrition education for low-income mothers and their children.
While tax dollars go towards these government programs, there are also local organizations that take actionable steps to lessen food insecurity and bolster nutritional health. Contacting any of the organizations below to donate your time or money will allow YOU to help make a difference