How Diet-Related Disease and Hunger Intersect
By Beth Burrell
We recently surveyed the people we serve about their wants and needs and the challenges they face with their health and wellness so that we could better understand the support we can provide to help them experience better health.
As a result of this survey, we learned that 80 percent of households have one or more people living with at least one diet-related disease or health risk. We also learned that while fresh foods are something families want to have as part of their regular diet, only 32 percent eat them daily because access is a challenge. Fifty-seven percent of people said fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to get in their neighborhood and 83 percent said that fresh fruits and vegetables cost too much to buy.
Knowing that many of the families we serve are managing diet-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, we asked if they would be interested in learning more about heart-healthy and diabetes-friendly foods and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Seventy-two percent of respondents who have or live with someone who has heart disease want to learn about heart-healthy foods. Seventy-three percent of respondents who have or are living with someone who has diabetes want to learn about diabetes-friendly foods.
How we can help
With this information, the Food Bank is dedicated to providing the best assistance we can to the people we serve.
Through our network of agencies, Produce to People and additional pop-up distributions, we are getting produce to the people who need it the most. We are continuing to increase the amount of fresh produce we are distributing – our goal is to reach 50 percent of the food we distribute to be fresh produce. Last year, produce accounted for 30 percent or 9 million of the more than 31 million pounds of food we distributed.
Through collaborations with healthcare providers, we are providing healthy foods to patients at the clinical point of care and making getting connected to food assistance faster and easier than ever before. By working hand-in-hand with our agency network, we are creating healthy option pantries where identifying foods that are good for people managing diet-related diseases is easy.
Through our Produce Champion program, volunteers are sharing their love of produce and cooking with the people we serve by helping to encourage individuals to try new food and by sharing recipe ideas. Ask one of our volunteer coordinators about this opportunity if you have a love for fresh foods that you would like to share with our community.
We have also changed the way information appears on our recipe cards. With the addition of nutrition badges, families are able to quickly identify recipes that are heart-healthy, diabetes-friendly, gluten-free, vegetarian and that take 30 minutes or less to make.
While we are making great strides in helping connect people to the foods they need and want, there is still much work to be done to help ensure all of our neighbors have enough.
You can help today. Make a gift, volunteer or share this post.