More than 1 million people in New Jersey face hunger, many of them living with the double burden of food insecurity and poor health. They struggle to provide healthy food for themselves and their families, often choosing less nutritious and inexpensive options to cope. Their lack of access to good food choices leaves them vulnerable to high blood pressure, onset diabetes and obesity.
This link between hunger and health has serious consequences for children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who live in food insecure households get sick more often and recover more slowly, tend to be malnutritioned, and have higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems. The professional association of pediatricians recommends that doctors screen patients for food insecurity because of its short- and long-term health effects.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey also addresses hunger as a health issue, prioritizing the distribution of healthy food and providing nutrition education. Our warehouses are fully stocked with seasonal produce, dairy, protein and grains, all of which reach people in need through our community partners and feeding programs. Here are some of the ways we do this…
Kids Cafes: At 40 sites across New Jersey, we serve healthy after-school meals to make sure children have something to eat before bed. These Kids Cafes also incorporate nutrition education, teaching children the importance of healthy eating.
Family Packs: To fill the gap many food insecure households face over the weekend, the FoodBank provides bags of supplemental food for schools to distribute on Friday.
Mobile Pantries: Our mobile pantries reach people in areas where there are not enough resources to address the need. Many of the people who visit the pantries are referred by physicians who give a “prescription” for healthy food.
Food Service Training Academy: Students of our free, 16-week culinary and life skills program learn about nutrition and how to prepare healthy food. Our own Executive Chef Paul Kapner shares his favorite heart-healthy recipes with his students and us. (Follow us on social for budget-friendly and nutritious recipes straight from our kitchen!)
Nutrition has implications for physical and mental well-being. Together, we can break the cycle of hunger and poor health.