Rachel Johnson 300x300
February 19, 2015
by Rachel Johnson

Everyone deserves access to good, nutritious food, but families across the country face barriers to getting healthy food on the table every day.

For many families, especially families living in low-income neighborhoods, it can be an issue of proximity. In these “food deserts,” supermarkets that sell all forms of heart-healthy food, such as fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and oily fish – are few and far between. As a result, communities lacking supermarkets often rely on corner stores that typically sell foods high in calories, added sugars and sodium, and low in healthy nutrients.  

For others, it’s an issue of opportunity, as families grapple with the cost of healthy ingredients or the time it may take to cook at home.

Feeding your family on a tight budget or while juggling work and family shouldn’t mean you can’t have healthy food options.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is working with Feeding America to help expand access to healthy foods and drinks to everyone in our nation. Together, we can solve hunger and promote health.

Healthy eating is a critical part of the AHA’s 2020 goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing the number of deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. These goals can’t be met without addressing access to and availability of healthy food for all Americans.

To help families bring healthy foods to the table, AHA created Simple Cooking with Heart, a program that teaches families how to make tasty and affordable meals.

We know that meals prepared in the home are generally more nutritious. Through Simple Cooking with Heart, AHA’s work empowers and excites families, especially those using food assistance benefits, to learn new skills, save money and spend quality time together at home eating heart-healthy, affordable and delicious recipes.

To make it easier, AHA has created a variety of tools and resources to help families start and keep cooking healthy meals at home:

  • Recipes, how-to video library
    The Simple Cooking with Heart online hub features 150 recipes that are quick, healthy and budget friendly. You can also find more than 50 articles and videos focusing on cooking skills for the recipes. There are additional recipes, videos, and articles available in Spanish. A mini-guide for children ages 8-14 includes two kid-friendly recipes to spark young people’s interest in food, cooking, and health.
  • Shopping guides
    Shop Smart for Good Food at Good Prices guide helps families understand the basics of building a food budget and sticking with it through planning and purchasing practices.
  • Live community demonstrations
    AHA staff and volunteers conduct live demonstrations, modeling ways to incorporate healthier ingredients and limit added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Participants receive a taste of the recipe and an at-home booklet that includes basic culinary information, money saving tips, recipes and fun ideas to get started. Interested in hosting a demonstration? Register for our kit, and start planning your inspiring event!

These tools expand access to nutritious food for everyone, providing skills that can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating while lowering the risk of heart disease.

Rachel Johnson 300x300 Rachel Johnson, PhD, MPH, RD, is a well-known expert on national nutrition policy, pediatric nutrition, dietary intake methodology, and energy metabolism. She is the former Chair of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee and is Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont.




Tags: Innovative Solutions to Hunger , Nutrition

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