For National Public Health Week, we are focusing on nutritional health and the importance of health equity.
Children and adults need access to adequate amounts of nutritious foods to sustain a balanced diet to help with growing and maintaining healthy bodies. But, did you know that in 2021 10.4% of American households faced food insecurity? Long-term food insecurity can lead to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and mental health issues.
Families who struggle with food insecurity face limitations such as not being able to buy groceries or afford healthy food options. According to Feeding America, it is estimated that 1 in 5 Black, 1 in 6 Latino, and 1 in 4 Native American households are disproportionately affected by food insecurity.
To ensure accessibility and affordability of healthy foods, the federal government has created food safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and free school meals. Research has shown that children who participate in the SNAP and WIC programs have higher levels of food security into adulthood and encourage healthy eating.
Grains specifically are a versatile, affordable, and delicious food option that can help mend the gap of food inequity. Grains play a foundational role within the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, including staple enriched grain products such as breads, wraps and pasta, and found in most diets among different cultures and communities. More importantly, they can be found universally in all grocery stores, markets, or other food-selling entities at low-cost prices, making it an accessible option for all.