Food Yoga- Food Deserts

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Living on less that $35 weekly (for food) in the middle of Hunger Action Month helped me understand what it means to live on an near impossible meal budget.

In this fast paced world driven by instant gratification it can be easy to consume processed foods because that’s what’s readily accessible. Compound that with the stresses of everyday life and healthy habits can take a back seat.

I made a conscious effort to find foods that could support a vegan lifestyle and met the budget restrictions I was under.

But, there was one thing I didn’t have to worry about. Healthy food was outside my doorstep. Across the street there’s an ethnic grocery store that had fresh bok choy for 2 bucks. More Thai basil than I know what to do with for 1.50. Peeled garlic that will last a week for 1.25.

And I haven’t even mentioned the large grocery store that is within biking distance.

Or the green markets on Wednesdays.

You get the picture.

But if I lived 1.5 miles away, it’s an entirely different story. There are parts of my hometown that don’t have the bus service that I have or the easy access to the markets and stores. Have a craving for Mickey Ds, KFC, Wendy’s, White Castle, or Taco Bell. Well then my friend, you’re in luck. You will need to hold onto that luck to find some decent veggies and groceries that are marked up (If you can find a grocery store)

Welcome to a food desert. A food desert is defined by the USDA as :

Food deserts are defined as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.

Check out the map below, all over the country there are areas where people in both urban and rural settings don’t have easy access to fresh food.

no car and supermarket

So now let’s take another look at that $4.50 a day that many folks can spend on food. If you can’t get to the store and you are surrounded by fast food a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese off the Dollar menu seems like a viable option. The next part of the story is fairly obvious, no?

Teaching Tolerance has done interesting research on obesity and access.

Studies show that certain racial groups are disproportionately affected by obesity. These problems may be worse in some U.S. communities because access to affordable and nutritious food is difficult. This is especially true for those living in low-income communities of color and rural areas with limited access to supermarkets, grocery stores or other food retailers that offer the large variety of foods needed for a healthy diet such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fresh dairy and lean meat products. Instead, individuals in these areas may be more reliant on convenience stores, fast food or similar retailers, or they may not have enough money to afford the higher prices. These areas of limited access are called “food deserts.”

But there are groups of people out there that are taking steps for change.

Yoga has a place in all of this. when you move your body, learn how to breathe and take time to connect you start to make better decisions. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that a chain reaction can happen in the other direction.

September is Hunger Action Month.

Namaste y’all.

*Do you live in a food desert and maintain a vegan lifestyle? I’d love to hear how you make it work- send me an email or leave comments.

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September is Hunger Action Month

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Here are some sobering facts about hunger in the US. (Courtesy Do Something)

  • 1 in 6 people in America face hunger.
  • Households with children reported a significantly higher food insecurity rate than households without children in 2011. 20.6 percent vs. 12.2 percent.
  • Food insecurity exists in every county in America. In 2011, 17.9 million households were food insecure.
  • 50.1 million Americans struggle to put food on the table.
  • In the US, hunger isn’t caused by a lack of food, but rather the continued prevalence of poverty.
  • More than 1 in 5 children is at risk of hunger
    • Among African-Americans and Latinos, it’s 1 in 3.
  • Over 20 million children receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day. Less than half of them get breakfast and only 10 percent have access to summer feeding sites.
  • For every 100 school lunch programs, there are only 87 breakfast sites and just 36 summer food programs.
  • 1 in 7 people are enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly half of them are children.
  • 40 percent of food is thrown out in the US every year, or about $165 billion worth. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans.

 

These seven states have statistically higher food insecurity rates than the US national average (14.7%):

Mississippi (19.2%)Texas (18.5%)Arkansas (19.2%)Alabama (17.4%)Georgia (17.4%)Florida (16.2%)North Carolina (17.1%)

  • One in seven households struggles with hunger.
  • 73% of teachers say that they have kids who start the day hungry because there isn’t enough food at home.

All month Feeding America is  challenging Americas to eat on 4.50 a day.

 

As I’ve talked about in my 21 Meals on $5 a day, it’s not easy.  Shaving .50 off? Seems impossible.

 

There are things that we can all do to help.

1. Donate. There are national programs that help. Check out Feeding America

2. Donate food to your local food pantry

3. Donate time to your local food pantry or food co-op.

4. Invite someone for a good healthy meal.

 

Namaste y’all.