Nutrition from the Ground Up During Difficult Economic Times
The current economy has added to existing struggles with poverty and hunger. In Clermont County, unemployment rates have increased to 9.7% and poverty rates affect approximately 9% of residents or 17,593 individuals. In 2008, 49 million US residents, including more than 16 million children, were at risk of hunger. According to a USDA report, nearly 15% of US households were food insecure in 2008, which was an increase from 11.1% in 2007. Food insecurity indicates a lack of money and other resources for nutritionally adequate food for all household members at some point during the year.
People who have limited access to nutritious foods or those who are food insecure are more likely to suffer from poor health. “Nutrition from the Ground Up”, this year’s National Nutrition Month Campaign focuses on building and maintaining good health by accessing nutritionally adequate foods.
Individuals from food insecure households can access healthy foods by seeking assistance from:
- WIC a food and nutrition program for pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding women and children under the age of five years.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as Food Stamps, to get free foods at grocery stores.
- Food pantries offer free foods
- School Lunch / Breakfast Program gives students a free or reduced lunch and/or breakfast at many local schools
- Summer Food Service Program provides a free lunch and snack to any child ages 1-18 years.
- OSU Extension Office, Family Nutrition Program teaches people how to prepare healthy, low-cost meals and plan a food budget
Ways you can help.
There are many ways that you may be able to help those who are food insecure. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Refer families to the programs listed above
- Work to increase the availability of full-service grocery stores, community gardens, and farmers markets; donate food to a food pantry
- Volunteer with various programs such as Meals On Wheels
- Form coalitions
- Support school district’s efforts in local wellness policies by encouraging nutritious foods with the School Lunch Program
- Offer your organization’s space to serve as a feeding site for the Summer Food Service Program
- Establish zoning and design ordinances that limit fast food restaurants
- Address food and beverage marketing and advertising.