Happy Friday, friends! I hope you have a fun weekend planned.
Food deserts are something I have briefly mentioned on the blog before, but never discussed in depth. After a few articles I have read recently, and a freakanomics podcast that talked about incentavizing people to eat healthy really works, I wanted to have a post that goes into slightly more detail about the issue. Then, I am very excited to tell you about Groceryships, which is a way we can help end the disparity caused by food deserts- one family at a time.
The USDA has a pretty comprehensive definition of food deserts, so I thought I would use theirs:
Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Obviously, this is a major issue. It is tied to social justice because food deserts are most often in areas populated with people of color and people with low incomes. Therefore, the detrimental effects of food deserts, including early death, health issues, and children not learning about nutrition, are concentrated among these populations more than in the general population.
While this is a major issue that deserves our attention, the good news is that many initiatives to help eradicate food deserts and provide affordable ways to eat nutritionally have been developed in recent years. The even better news is that we can help these initiatives progress.
One such initiative is the institution of Groceryships. Check out this description of the program:
A Groceryship is a scholarship for groceries. We provide families the money to buy fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and seeds for six months, and then provide a comprehensive program of education and support to empower them to increase health by incorporating more of these healthful foods into their diets. Families who are awarded Groceryships receive support on five levels:
Financial — For six months, families receive gift cards allowing them to buy fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts (whole, plant-food).
Medical — families health and progress are monitored by our clinic partners, who track changes in weight, BMI, cholesterol, and glucose levels.
Educational — Groceryship recipients meet weekly to learn nutrition, healthy cooking and shopping skills. Nutritionists are on-call during the week to provide nutrition counseling and recipe suggestions.
Emotional — Half of the weekly meeting is devoted to the emotional side of eating, and overcoming addictive foods. Our support structure includes group support, a peer-buddy system, and mentoring.
Resources — Groceryship recipients receive a package of tools/resources at the beginning of the program, including: Healthy Eating DVDs (Including Forks Over Knives and Hungry For Change.) Donated blenders and other kitchen appliances, Food Feelings Journals, Copies of SuperSprowtz children’s nutrition cookbooks, and Copies of Chop, Chop Magazine and other fun tools.
Groceryships aims to empower families to live healthfully for generations to come.
Based on this article that I read, Groceryships really work to help improve the eating habits and health of families that normally would not have the knowledge to afford and prepare healthy food.