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Second Harvest Community Food Bank Blog

March 06, 2015

Providing Access to Needed Nutrition

When considering the challenges of being food insecure, it is easy to concentrate on the physical pain that is directly related to food insecurity. While hunger itself is physically painful, there are additional physical difficulties related to a lack of good nutrition. Food insecurity is not simply about putting food on the table, but about getting the vitamins and nutrients necessary for good physical health.

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean protein, dairy and whole grains helps prevent illness and promotes healthy cell growth and heightened energy levels. Nutrition is a central consideration in the mission and goals of Second Harvest Community Food Bank.

Initiated in 1973 as a week-long event focusing on good nutrition, March, in 1980, became National Nutrition Month. Its focus is on sound eating and promoting physical activity, with the understanding that these habits promote healthy living.

Providing access to needed nutrition is a core focus of Second Harvest. The food desert that covers much of the Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas region severely limits access to nutritious foods for residents. Here are a few of the ways that Second Harvest prioritizes nutrition for members:

Fresh Start is the perishable food pantry located on the campus of Second Harvest. It allows members access to fresh, nutritious foods that they need and expands availability of healthy foods to those that live in the vast food desert served by Second Harvest. To shop at Fresh Start, a person must first obtain a Yellow Card.

Senior Boxes is a program designed for the unique nutritional needs of seniors. Each month, senior members receive a 35-pound box packed with canned fruits, vegetables and protein, along with cereal and juices. These senior boxes ensure that nutrition is not compromised by food insecurity.

Backpack Buddies and Campus Cupboard are two programs aimed at providing nutritious foods to school-aged children. Younger children can sign up for Backpack Buddies, which provides healthy foods to children each weekend during the school year. Campus Cupboard provides an on-campus food pantry at local high schools.

Close the Gap is an important resource for individuals and families wanting to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). The process can be a bit daunting, so Second Harvest provides two full-time Food Security Coordinators. These Coordinators can walk applicants through each step of the process.

Harvest Healing provides nutrition to those that, perhaps, need it the most. One of the most common reasons for food insecurity is a medical crisis, so it is no surprise that members receiving treatment for cancer struggle to obtain expensive complete-nutrition drinks. Harvest Healing provides complete-nutrition drinks to members that present a doctor’s note.

Providing resources for those that are food insecure is about more than just food on the table. Many food insecure families find themselves purchasing unhealthy food simply because it is generally cheaper than nutritious food. At Second Harvest, we strive to provide a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grain, dairy and protein as healthy options for our members.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 03/06/15, 10:00 AM

 

March 03, 2015

The Annual Fund Drive: Nourishing Families in Northwest Missouri

The mission of Second Harvest Community Food Bank is building hunger-free communities. Many people experience food insecurity at some point during their lives, usually due to a short-term situation, like the loss of a job. As a result, there are probably people you know that are food insecure: neighbors, coworkers or others in your community.

Nourishing families and individuals with programs that serve their specific needs is the heart of Second Harvest. There are four initiatives within the mission Second Harvest.

Nourishing Families: Second Harvest works with families to get the services they need for providing nutrition to their members. Programs like Fresh Start and Close the Gap are essential to helping families obtain nutritious foods. Fresh Start is Second Harvest’s perishable food pantry, located on the Second Harvest campus. Close the Gap is a program fully dedicated to helping families through the application process for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps).

Nourishing Children: One in five of the food insecure individuals located in Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas are children, and many of them receive services at Second Harvest. Over 3,400 children in 18 counties participate in Backpack Buddies, the program that provides nutritious foods to children over 36 weekends during the school year. Additional programs, such as No Hunger Summer, ensure that children are receiving the food they need over the long summer break.

Nourishing Seniors: It’s easy to forget that seniors are among those that suffer from food insecurity. Many seniors struggle to get the food they need because of limited mobility, limited transportation or financial difficulties. Senior Boxes is a program of Second Harvest that meets the special nutritional needs of seniors. Packed with 35 pounds of canned fruits, vegetables, protein and cereal, the boxes help seniors get the important vitamins and nutrients that promote good health.

Nourishing Neighborhoods: Much of the food that is distributed by Second Harvest goes out to over 100 Partner Agencies, who provide resources through a variety of programs. Second Harvest relies on these crisis centers, food pantries, shelters and other programs to distribute 62 percent of the food we receive. Invest an Acre is another important way that neighborhoods are nourished. Local farmers can donate a portion of their crops to Second Harvest by filling out a simple form when they go to the grain elevator.

All four of these important initiatives and their respective programs are supported by the generous donations of time, food and money from our neighbors.

On March 4, 2015, Second Harvest kicks off its Annual Fund Drive. The funds received by Second Harvest during the Annual Fund Drive will help expand access to nutritious food. Of all the monetary resources donated to Second Harvest, 97 percent goes directly to food distribution, acquisition and programs. Join Second Harvest in nourishing families, nourishing children, nourishing seniors and nourishing neighborhoods.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 03/03/15, 10:00 AM

 

February 27, 2015

Hunger Facts: Food Insecurity Affects Seniors, Too

Did you know that in Missouri, over 190,000 seniors are struggling with food insecurity? While many of those seniors are receiving assistance to help them put food on the table, there are many that do not receive assistance.

Meals on Wheels reports that there are nearly 104,000 receiving their services, but that leaves more than 87,000 remaining food insecure that don’t receive their services. For many seniors, the financial difficulties obtaining food are complicated by additional challenges, such as limited transportation and reduced energy for preparing meals.

Seniors also have specific nutritional requirements that are different from other age groups. They have a reduced activity level, so they must be sure that every calorie counts, providing the highest number of nutrients possible. Seniors must also consume extra fruits, vegetables and lean meats because their bodies do not absorb nutrients as easily as they age.

Here are a few hunger facts related to seniors:

  • According to the Hunger in America 2014 report, one in three food insecure households has at least one senior over 60.
  • Meals on Wheels can provide a Missouri senior with meals for an entire year for only $1,479. However, the contribution from the federal government covers only 21 percent of that cost. This highlights the important role that state and local contributions, as well as private generosity, can play in helping our senior neighbors.
  • Over 500,000 of the seniors served by Meals on Wheels in the United States are veterans.
  • Of those receiving assistance from food banks and other programs, 66 percent are often forced to choose between purchasing food and paying for medical care. Sixty-nine percent had to choose between paying the utility bills and purchasing food.
  • Many of our neighbors that receive food assistance are struggling with a serious medical condition. The Hunger in America 2014 report indicated that among those receiving help from a local food bank or other program, 58 percent of households have at least one person with high blood pressure, and 33 percent of households have a member with diabetes.
  • Even if a senior facing food insecurity finds ways to piece together a meal, it may not be a nutritious one. Among those receiving assistance from a food pantry or other program, 79 percent reported purchasing the cheapest food possible, even if it was not a nutritious choice, simply to put a meal on the table.

While hunger facts provide a few glimpses into the problem, it is also important to look at what benefits might be provided through a solution:

  • Every dollar spent on nourishing seniors results in up to $50 saved in Medicaid spending.
  • If only one-quarter of all food insecure seniors in Missouri received services, the 32 million invested would be offset 50 times by the amount saved: $1.6 billion!

If you are interested in finding out more than about serving our senior neighbors, contact Second Harvest Community Food Bank. While hearing hunger facts may stir your interest, we invite you to take the next step to get involved and donate your time, food or funds to join our mission to build hunger-free communities.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 02/27/15, 10:00 AM

 
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