In honor of National Nutrition Month, it is important to take a look at the efforts being made to provide healthy food options to the millions of people in need of food assistance in our country.
With an ever-growing push toward eating healthy and staying fit, food banks like the St. Louis Area Foodbank are trying to do their part to provide clients with healthier foods. We also strive to give families in need nutrition education to help them make healthy choices on their own.
We distribute millions of pounds of food to those in need, and we want to make sure that food not only fills the clients’ stomachs, but also helps them provide a healthier future for their families.
Typically seen as a large warehouse that distributes shelf-stable food, the Foodbank is evolving. We are working hard to provide more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats.
One of our overall goals is to better meet the nutritional needs of those we serve. Diets rich in these foods will help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes – three conditions that are prevalent in today’s society, particularly for the poor.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank is also focusing on programs and services that will help communities gain additional access to healthy food. We also share opportunities for families to learn the benefits of health eating.
We help families in need apply for food stamps, and provide senior citizens with a supplemental box of food every month. These are just two ways we are offering struggling families in our area better access to healthy, nourishing food choices.
Our food fairs and mobile markets deliver fresh produce, bakery goods and dairy products to pantries all around the St. Louis region. We also provide our clients with a wide variety of resources to make healthy living a possibility for those struggling to make ends meet.
One of the best resources to help food banks and health professionals bridge the gap between hunger relief and good nutrition is the Healthy Food Bank Hub.
The Hub is designed to provide healthy food resources to food banks across the country. The tool includes information on healthy food distribution, recipes, educational materials and much more.
For those that look to the St. Louis Area Foodbank, food pantries and soup kitchens for their next meal, eating healthy is not something they can do on their own.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank is making strides to provide healthy food and nutrition education, making the idea of healthier, well-fed communities isn’t too far away.
Each of us can do our part to make healthier food options available to all of us. Contact the St. Louis Area Foodbank and see what you can do to help, whether it is volunteering at a distribution center or simply inquiring about efforts in your community to help create awareness about nutrition.
Together we can work towards a healthier, more nutritious future.
By Kelly Hall, RD, LD
IL School Breakfast Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank and registered dietitian.