Recently the nationwide report funded by Congress called “Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food — Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences” was released and people in Missouri don’t appear to be doing that well. In particular, it was reported that we have the eleventh lowest state ranking for eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and we have relatively high rates of soft drink, sweet snack and solid fats consumption. As a result, Missourians have the ninth worst rate of obesity among adults, with 30% being designated obese by having a body mass index greater than 30.
There are a number of factors related to obesity rates including income, access to healthy food sources, the ability to pay for healthy food, the concentration of fast food outlets, and the consumption of fruits, vegetables, sugar, fat and soft drinks.
What can you do not to become a statistic? One obvious answer is to eat more fruits and vegetables and stay away from fast food and soft drinks. But, of course, this is a complex problem that isn’t solved easily. The ability to pay for healthy food is a more challenging issue and requires more thoughtful attention.
AHF (Access to Healthy Foods) is a local program here in Columbia, Missouri, that is trying to help ensure that healthy, fresh, and local foods are available to those most at risk of disease due to poor nutrition. This program was recently profiled in USA Today as the top news story out of Missouri.
Sustainable Farms and Communities, Inc. in partnership with the Columbia Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Columbia Farmers Market has established the AHF program to help increase the value of food stamps at the Columbia Farmers Market for those most in need of increased nutritional support.
They need your help. See the website for more information on how you can help get Missourians healthier. http://farmersmarketpavilion.org/access-to-healthy-foods/ Giving support to your local community is one way that you can really make a difference in people’s lives. If you don’t live in Columbia, look for similar programs in your area to support.
And, while you’re at it, throw a few more vegetables and fruits in your grocery basket and put back the soda!