You are what you eat. How many times have we heard this over the course of our lives? As cliché as that phrase has become, it is still absolutely true. Food is the fuel that makes our bodies go. The more premium fuel you put in your body, the better it will run and the better it will take care of you. Unfortunately, just like real automobile fuel, purchasing premium nutritious food has become increasingly costly. It has become much easier to buy a family of four dinner at the local fast food restaurant than it is to buy the same family a nutritious home cooked meal at the local grocery store. The trend shows no signs of stopping for now either. The lion's share of subsidies this country gives to produce is almost 85% to wheat, corn, and soy. These are primarily the products used in making processed foods. Roughly 1% of subsidies are given to other fruits and vegetables. The scary part of all of this is that the people affected the most are those living under the poverty level and the working poor. It seems counter-intuitive to think this, but those who are food insecure and living at the poverty level are at a much higher risk for obesity and other serious health conditions such as diabetes. Especially at risk are children. This is simply because it is much cheaper and easier to find food that is bad for you than food that is good for you, particularly in low income communities which don’t have easy access to grocery stores.
Here at the Food Bank we’re doing our best to provide more nutritious options for those in need. As part of our strategic plan, we have made the commitment to bring in more low sodium items, leaner meats, whole grains, and of course, more fruits and vegetables. This Nutrition Month, we have received and distributed well over 100,000 pounds of produce--items such as sweet potatoes, collard greens, bell peppers, grapefruits, tangerines, red potatoes, and more.
We are glad that nutrition is rising to the surface as a major issue. Distributing more healthy food will require hard work, but with continued support from our community, within our food bank network and partners like MAZON and Kaiser Permanente, we feel confident that we can increase provisions of healthy options for families and individuals in need.
We wish everyone a Happy Passover and Easter.
-Ben Burgess, Product Sourcing Coordinator