October 24th marks the United State’s FOOD DAY 2013. Started by the Center for Science in the Public Interest the “ultimate goal of FOOD DAY is to strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nation’s food policies” (Foodday.com- About).
I feel this is something we as a profession should all get behind. Hunger and poor nutrition influence everything from our disease rates, mortality rates, mood, and academic success (and so much more). Disease and Mortality rates are obvious. Our American diet of fast and sugary foods is leading to an epidemic of obesity and other disease complications that lead to more deaths than needed from diseases that are preventable through diet and life style changes. The Food and Mood connection is a bit foggier, but none the less clear. In fact, some mental illnesses have diet suggestions and Complementary and Alternative treatments or as mainline treatments. Finally, there is plenty of research which links poor nutrition (linked meals or poor options) to academic outcome in youth. This may be the underlying reason behind the push for improving school breakfast access by the Dairy Counsel and other agencies (because we cannot be a nation slacking academically when compared to others right?), which isn’t all that bad because it gives access to food to many youth who may not otherwise have breakfast. But FOOD DAY’s priorities go far beyond simply food, health and diet itself. If you care about the economy, the environment, politics, or well-being you should care about what we eat and our food system. There is an obviously bigger issue at stake. In a first world nation where millions of communities and citizens live in area’s designated as Food Deserts (areas with limited access to affordable and healthy foods) and spend everyday struggling to meet their nutritional needs, it is time to address the bigger picture. From a system’s perspective FOOD DAY’s goals of improving working conditions of farmers as well as sustainable farming techniques provides jobs, decreases injuries and use of pesticides, protects our environment (and thus our global health), and offers a means of effectively (if embraced and implemented) reducing food desserts and hunger.
While food day will help address the problem and bring awareness to it, it doesn’t eliminate the Socioeconomic disparity which exists between citizens who have easy access to healthy affordable foods (often middle and upper class, and white), and those who are food insecure (often lower class and minority). If you care about the economy, the environment, politics, or wellbeing you care about what we eat and our food system. It will take far more backing for improved assess and nutrition awareness from ALL professionals to do this, which is where I feel we come in.
For more information and an interactive map of Food Deserts please these CDC Websites:
Written By Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW Staff Writer