This guest post is authored by Kelly Runzel, Director of Corporate Partnerships and Rhonda Watson, Director of Workplace Giving at Feed the Children.
It is exhausting to try to pinpoint where we went wrong in regard to our food system in America. One defining point is that when we created food designed for convenience, low cost and preservation, we also created food high in sugars, salts and preservatives. These foods that are low cost and have a high shelf life are now the foods that we are feeding our families. This has led to an epidemic of obesity, especially among our families that cannot afford healthy, nutritious food.
According to The New Face of Hunger, by National Geographic, “The price of fresh food has risen steadily, while the cost of sugary treats like soda has dropped. Since the early 1980s, the real cost of fruits and vegetables has increased by 24 percent. Meanwhile, the cost of nonalcoholic beverages—primarily sodas, most sweetened with corn syrup—has dropped by 27 percent.”
For optimal well-being, nutritious food is essential. It also helps prevent some diseases. Healthy foods help our body maintain peak function by providing us with certain nutrients.
Lifestyle, age and growth stage will determine our nutrient requirements. These factors make nutrition, health and wellness intriguingly intertwined.
Essential nutrients are easy to find:
- Fiber is found in grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, avocado, spinach and butternut squash.
- Calcium is found is low-fat and fat-free dairy products, rhubarb, spinach, collard greens and sardines.
- Magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and white, black and navy beans.
- Potassium is found in bananas, kefir or yogurt, legumes, potatoes and prune juice.
- Vitamin D is found in fortified dairy and juice, soy milk, salmon, tuna, mackerel and of course sunshine!
Whether you are in school or at a meeting, hunger is a distraction. In the case of children, according to The American Psychological Association, children who are hungry exhibited 7 to 12 times as many symptoms of conduct disorders, which can include fighting, breaking rules, stealing, etc. These symptoms can also affect adults. Every time your stomach growls, you make a decision. Do you go for healthy, convenience or low cost? Choices are hard when you are hungry. Before you chew, think about picking something that is healthy and has some variety. For example, the number-one vegetable consumed is white potatoes, and many times these are prepared in an unhealthy way, which takes away the nutritional benefits.
Just remember—every food serves an important purpose, so choose wisely!
The challenge is not only to change the way we choose our food, but also to help those in the community who do not have healthy food options. A few options include:
- Contact FEED and we can connect you with a trusted agency in your community to see if you can host a fresh-produce drive.
- Check local health standards to see if there is a way that you can conduct a canning event to donate healthy canned or jarred goods.
With these small efforts, not only can we get nutritious foods into the hands of our families, but also into our communities.
Please contact Rhonda Watson or Kelly Runzel for more information on how to host an event in your area.