November 23rd, 2014 loaves-fishes Hunger Facts, Programs action, affordable foods, america, american, american diet, anti poverty, anti-hunger, budget, center, chicago, director of nutrition and wellness, DuPage, eat, eats, Fishes, food, food deprivation, food promotion, food research, FRAC, health, health care, healthy, healthy living, limited budget, Loaves, Loaves and Fishes, low income, MyPlate, Naperville, national geographic, nutrition, obesity, overeating, physical activity, poverty, stress, wellness, what's in your wallet?
In 1961, this is what the American diet consisted of according to National Geographic’s “What the World Eats” research.
gives us a wonderful view of the world from the 50,000 feet perspective, and consumption patterns described here are particularly interesting. The diagrams are a startling depiction of what everybody has suspected for some time now: we are eating far too many foods containing fats and sugars. If that is true in most places around the world (yes, even in our backyard), it is doubly true for the household who is struggling to make ends meet.
The question pops up at Loaves & Fishes fairly often. “If these individuals are going hungry, why do they all seem to be overweight?” The truth is – looks are deceiving. An individual struggling with excess weight can still be undernourished. Without the benefit of healthy food choices, those readily available low cost food choices, full of fats and sugars, can quickly become “the enemy”.
This is the current American diet, with significant growth in sugar and fats.
Focus groups at Loaves & Fishes have helped to identify some reasons why low income families may choose foods that might be high in fats and sugars. If given a choice between a large box of cereal (that happens to be loaded with sugar) and a smaller box of a whole grain cereal, the chances are 80% that the family will choose the large box. After all, more is better, right? We also know that families are very reluctant to experiment with different food choices. Families often choose items that are most familiar, not wanting to “risk” the chance that a new food would not be enjoyed by the family.
Those behaviors may sound typical, but they exemplify some of the unique challenges that a low income family will face in the fight against obesity. The Food Research and Action Center, a national anti-hunger organization in Washington DC, has documented several factors that can stack the deck against families that are experiencing food insecurity. On the list:Limited resources and lack of access to healthy, affordable foodsFewer opportunities for physical activityCycles of food deprivation and overeatingHigh levels of stressLimited access to health care
Loaves & Fishes follows MyPlate standards to ensure low-income families have a well-balanced diet.
How can we help? Step one, particularly for pantries or emergency food providers, is to make a commitment to offer foods that are a part of a healthy diet and do not promote obesity. These healthy food options are particularly important for families with young children. Thankfully, Loaves & Fishes has made it a priority to provide a variety of healthy foods for households in our community that are experiencing food insecurity. Our food recovery partnerships with retail grocery stores
have allowed us to access large quantities of fresh foods that are often missing in emergency food distributions. We have also partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank to purchase milk and eggs, a much needed calcium source for children.
Take a look at a typical shopping cart leaving Loaves & Fishes, compared to the food choices that MyPlate recommends for a healthy diet. It is comforting to know that families who visit our grocery market are able to find fruits, vegetables and whole grains that can reduce the risk of obesity. Coupled with nutrition education and coping mechanisms for the tough times, we can go a long way to meet the obesity challenges for low-income families.
Director of Nutrition & Wellness