I will be writing several future articles with information obtained and referenced from Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB), Feeding Pennsylvania (FP), and Feeding America (FA). In February, I mentioned that Second Harvest is collaborating with three Lehigh County Food Pantries with their Healthy Pantry Initiative (HPI) grant. Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative is excited or be chosen as one of them.
Khushboo Jain, Nutrition Educator at SHFB says “The goal of HPI is to reduce long-term burden of diet related diseases through a “beyond food” approach.” The “beyond food” approach aims to devise long-term solutions to food insecurity by addressing all the factors that cause poverty (employment, wages, and other socioeconomic factors). So while providing participants with nutritious food is essential, HPI also supports our pantries with a network of community organizations so they can offer or refer participants to other services they may need to break that cycle of food insecurity.”
Below is to explain the cycle of food insecurity and chronic disease mentioned by Khushboo. This info comes directly from Feeding America https://tinyurl.com/2p9b5xbh
“The Hunger in America 2014 study found that many households served by the Feeding America® network of food banks include people coping with a diet-related chronic disease. Fifty-eight percent of households reported having at least one member with high blood pressure and 33 percent had at least one member with diabetes.
The cycle of food insecurity and chronic disease begins when an individual or family cannot afford enough nutritious food. The combination of stress and poor nutrition can make disease management even more challenging. Further, the time and money needed to respond to these health conditions strains the household budget, leaving little money for essential nutrition and medical care. This causes the cycle to continue, increasing the risk of worsening existing conditions. Many families experiencing food insecurity often have several, if not all, compounding factors, which make maintaining good health extremely difficult.”
WCHI has seen first-hand what compounding factors affect our Pantry guests. All are on fixed incomes. Our guests tell us they have to choose between food and a myriad of other expenses i.e. medicine and medical care; housing expenses: rent, taxes, and utilities. Current gas and food prices are also affecting them.
Feeding America continues on with the above article, “households must use coping strategies to meet their food needs, including: Purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food (79%), Receiving help from friends (53%); Watering down food or drinks (40%), Selling or pawning personal property (35%), and growing food in a garden (23%).
More than half (55%) of households served by the Feeding America network, reported having to use three or more coping strategies to deal with tough financial choices. Some of these coping strategies may support one’s health, but others that make sense in the short term can be detrimental to health in the long term. This is particularly true in households with children and among people who are already coping with a diet-related, chronic disease.”
Every month during our food distribution, our guests comment how grateful they are that WCHI is here to help them. All our volunteers understand the stresses our guests are experiencing as mentioned above. WCHI is proud to be achieving Our Mission: To alleviate food insecurity in Whitehall and Coplay.
Thank you for reading my article and have a great week!!!