Consistently eating nutritious, healthful foods is a challenge for many Americans. Personally, while I desire a diet that is constantly filled with foods such as leafy greens, fresh fruit and fish, it is not always my reality due to factors such as work, school and family obligations. Maintaining a healthy diet each day is difficult enough, not to mention if I had to factor in a lower (or no) income and additional necessities, such as medical care, or feeding a family. Making difficult tradeoffs between basic needs is daily reality for individuals and families visiting the food pantries and meal programs served by the Feeding America network.
Of the 60,000 individuals surveyed in the Hunger in America 2014 study, 79 percent of households reported purchasing inexpensive, unhealthful foods to feed their family, while at the same time 55 percent desire more access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, 66 percent reported choosing between paying for food or medicine and/or medical care in the prior year. Compounding issues linked to limited household budgets and healthy food access – as well as necessary tradeoffs between basic needs – contribute to the fact that numerous people served by the Feeding America network face substantial health challenges, many being specific to diet-sensitive diseases.
In response, Feeding America has taken steps to raise awareness and take action on the entangled relationship between food insecurity, nutrition and health. Over the past several years, multiple initiatives have been implemented:
While these efforts have sparked conversation and action, we continue to explore opportunities and solutions for alleviating the difficult tradeoffs between basic needs that many are forced to make each day. Feeding America is continuing to lay the groundwork with donors and partners to optimize distribution and increase access to Foods to Encourage and federal nutrition programs, as well as develop solutions to end hunger.
How can you get help lessen the tradeoffs?
Are you a professional looking to learn more about the intersection of food insecurity, nutrition and health? Sign-up to receive Feeding America’s quarterly Digest. And check out our Illuminating Intersections: Hunger and Health video below.
*Margaret Isham is a nutrition associate at Feeding America.Tags: Fighting Hunger in Action , Nutrition