Ali Spencer, RD, from LDS Hospital explains food insecurity and its impact on the community.
Food insecurity is lacking consistent access to affordable, nutritious food to live an active, healthy lifestyle. Nationally, 16 million children do not have regular access to meals (Nokidhungry.org). Within the state of Utah, an estimated 12% of Utah households are food insecure.
Food insecurity impacts everyone, but children in particular. Negative outcomes with food insecurity include poorer health, impaired ability to concentrate and perform in school, and increased behavioral problems. Additionally, food insecurity is linked to a poorer diet quality and variety as well as obesity.
How do you identify food insecurity?
- Look at their physical appearance (physical indicators of nutrient deficiencies – like swollen, puffy skin, chronically cracked lips, and chronically dry, itchy eyes)
- You can observe behaviors and listen to conversations.
If you are concerned a child isn’t getting enough to eat, there are some key things to ask. Ask them about what foods they eat at home. What did they eat for dinner last night or breakfast this morning? Do they ever worry that they won’t have enough to eat or has their family run out of food?
How can you help?
There are multiple government programs in place to help, specifically the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. Unfortunately, these programs are underutilized in Utah. You can spread the word to increase participation.
Donate! You can donate food, money, and/or time to the Utah Food Bank. They have programs like the Backpack Program and Kid’s Café that help reduce hunger in children. They also have Food Box programs to help food insecure seniors.
Visit www.LDSHospital.com/healthyliving for more information and LiVe Well topics.
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