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Benefits of Nutritional Outreach Programs

by Fallon Spittel

As a college student, I struggle to buy groceries every week because I end up spending too much on other expenses. I try to eat healthily and stick to buying a lot of fruits and vegetables, but it’s always more expensive to do that versus buying a bag of chips. I feel as though it is too expensive to eat healthy, especially if you want to buy fresh produce. I understand that it will always be more expensive because of the quality of the item you’re buying. I’ve grown up eating super healthy, so it’s been a struggle to find food options like what I used to have at home. Likewise, I feel as though supporting local farmer’s markets or stores could help increase the availability of healthy food resources in the community.

It is expensive to eat healthily, and this aids in the increased obesity rates in the United States. The problem is affording groceries, specifically fresh produce, is a common problem in many households. It’s cheaper to buy something off the McDonalds dollar menu than it is to buy a carton of blueberries. I feel as though something needs to be implemented to allow healthier food options to be at a more moderate price than a lot of junk food. This increase in unhealthy eating is causing obesity rates to increase as well as the rates of developing cardiovascular disease which is an outcome of food availability. In 2020 38.3 million people lived in food-insecure households (USDA ERS, 2021). This means that they couldn’t afford to have a stable food supply in the house to provide for themselves or their family (USDA ERS, 2021). 6.1 million children lived in food-insecure households where the children and adults were both considered food insecure (USDA ERS, 2021). With the increase in food insecurity and lack of access to healthy food options, the obesity rates in the United States are increasing. In 2017-2018 the obesity rates in the United States were 42.4% of the total country and severe obesity increased to 9.2% (CDC,2021). Obesity and severe obesity lead to many health conditions like type two diabetes and cancer which aid in premature death (CDC,2021). This could be prevented with access to healthy food options for individuals and families that come at a reasonable rate.

Several outside organizations are implementing techniques to aid in the availability of healthy foods to everyone in the country. The first organization is The Food Trust organization. The Food Trust group focuses on increasing Americans’ access to affordable food options and guiding them in making healthy decisions. They have been providing food to communities in need to ensure that everyone is receiving food and that the options implemented to them are healthy. This organization is based out of Philadelphia and has played a huge role in aiding Philadelphia schools in decreasing the obesity rates among children. They have been successful in this goal by lowering the obesity rates by 5% between 2006 and 2010 (The Food Trust, 2012). To achieve many of their goals, The Food Trust organization works with farmer’s markets, schools, communities, and corner stores to create an impact in underserved areas (The Food Trust, 2012). The Food Trust organization has helped Virginia to bring healthy food options to many communities within the state. They first have provided training and technical help to create programs and regulations supporting purchasing food from local businesses (The Food Trust, 2012). They have gone to several schools in Virginia or brought them training for school food employees and professionals to create new healthier meal plans, snacks, and to add local food options into their menus (The Food Trust, 2012). Likewise, they help to promote the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption to increase the number of students incorporating those food groups into their diet (The Food Trust, 2012). Healthy eating comes at a cost, but the Food Trust organization has helped develop plans for food financing in Virginia.

One challenge that I think everyone should try to complete after learning about this common problem within our country is to try and volunteer for a nonprofit in the community. The food trust organization has volunteer opportunities across the country and has options for volunteering in Virginia. Here is the link to go sign up to volunteer http://thefoodtrust.org/contact/volunteer. You can also go to the same website and donate to the Food Trust organization to help aid in the cause. A small effort to help aid in food insecurity is to help donate food to canned food drives or soup kitchens. Although this is a minimal task, it would still help many members of the community.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 7). Adult obesity facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html.
Key Statistics & Graphics. USDA ERS – Key Statistics & Graphics. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2021, from https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx.
The Food Trust: Where we work. The Food Trust | Where We Work. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2021, from http://thefoodtrust.org/where-we-work.

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