Earlier this month, I came across this great article on Twitter “Access to Good Food as Preventive Medicine” by Erin Marcus and I would really encourage you all to read it because she makes some great points. In this article, Marcus narrates the harsh reality that many food insecure individuals face–how to spent their (last) dollar(s). Will it be used on food, medicine or their cost of living? This leads Marcus to discuss the importance of having proper resources in place that would enable our society to effectively use food and proper nutrition education as a preventive medicine. That means advocating more for programs such as:
- The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Supplemental Nutrition Supplemental Program (SNAP–formerly knowns as Food Stamps)
Taking it a step further, Marcus poses the following question “What if SNAP were more like WIC, and referrals to the program became second nature for clinics serving chronically ill, low-income people?”. Wow! That really spoke to me. Personally, I believe that all too often people have the misconception that:
- Individuals who are food insecure are skeletal-like OR
- Obesity is only the result of overeating or due to the consumption of heavily processed foods.
The reality is obesity in itself can be a form of malnutrition that can be linked to poverty and hunger. And as we all know, obesity leads to all tips of chronic diseases such diabetes, hypertension and so on–the very diseases the patients mentioned in the article are seeking help for. To make matters worse, hunger, poverty and malnutrition are touchy subjects. It’s not only hard for someone to ask for help but it can also be quite difficult for them to find the resources they need.
Once they find the appropriate resources, it is important that they learn how to effectively utilize it in order to be succeed in their journey to a better health (i.e. learning how to grocery shop in order to stretch their SNAP dollars and eat healthy on a budget without having to give up fruits and vegetables for cheap and heavily processed foods). Innovative nutrition education programs are important in my opinion so I find this screening process to be crucial!
Comment below: Do you think SNAP should be more like WIC? How can we effectively use our resources to prevent hunger and chronic disease?