Over 490,000 individuals are food insecure in San Diego County. Regular and easy access to safe and healthy foods is not a common option for these individuals. Cheap and more readily available foods are usually energy dense and non-nutritive, such as soda and candy. Those who experience hunger are nearly 3 times more likely to suffer from chronic conditions and poor health which can be exacerbated by an intake of unhealthy foods.
Of Food Bank clients surveyed in 2013, over 93% said it is important to them to receive healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Food Bank clients are seeking healthy options for their families and for their health, and the Food Bank responded.
By leveraging relationships with experts in the field of nutrition policy, the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank researched, developed and implemented a Purchased Nutrition Policy and Distribution Nutrition Policy. With these policies in place, staff can make informed, healthy decisions about the types of foods they bring in and distribute.
Food Bank staff are motivated by the health of our clients and strives to alleviate the burden for those families who make that daily choice between feeding their family with unhealthy foods or feeding them at all.
The Food Bank no longer distributes energy dense foods like candy, soda, sports drinks, fruit drinks that are not 100% juice and ice cream. Also, through a very valuable partnership with California Association of Food Banks, the Food Bank is distributing over 7 million pounds of fresh produce. They purchase foods from local growers and other retailers that may not sell in stores but are still perfectly nutritious. Think of the oddly shaped carrot or an onion that’s on the small side. The Food Bank takes this produce and distributes it to families in need through more than 400 nonprofit partners, so that the healthy choice is the easy and affordable choice!
Additionally, the Food Bank’s Registered Dietitian oversees the Food Bank’s nutrition education programs. The Food Bank distributes free recipe cards, hosts cooking classes and nutrition workshops, and organizes grocery store tours to help reinforce healthy choices and behaviors. So not only does the Food Bank provide the healthy food, we’ll teach you how to cook it in a healthy way your family will enjoy!
The Food Bank is really excited and proud of their work to reduce the overabundance of nutrient-poor, energy-dense foods in the food environment, but there’s still much to be done. Their ultimate goal is to end hunger in San Diego and until then, the Food Bank continues to procure healthy foods for their clients and improve the health of our community.
Check out the San Diego Food Bank website for most needed items: http://sandiegofoodbank.org/food-drives/.