This week in class we discussed federally funded nutrition programs such as SNAP, NSL, WIC, and OAA. Most of these nutrition programs are primarily targeted to low-income households, as they have higher proportions of food insecurity and nutritional risk. Before this unit I knew of quite a few nutrition programs, but there are actually quite a few I didn’t know about. As someone who has been educated in nutrition issues the fact that I didn’t even know about some of them leads me to believe that lack of knowledge of these programs is probably a big factor in why there are still many food insecure families and individuals in America today. Increasing participation means addressing a large variety of issues, such as the negative stigma of being on a social program, but raising awareness could be the push for some people to utilize these programs.
This week I would like to take the time to examine a social nutrition program that is funded by a nonprofit organization in Spokane that my friend Molly worked at in past summers. The program is called Power Up and is targeted to women and children in nutritional need. It is funded by the Women Helping Women Spokane Chapter that also fund several other social programs aimed at the community level. Here is my interview with Molly.
Question: How does Power Up work?
M: The grant provided $10,000 to help disperse produce and dairy products to women and children in need. Food pantries, which do much to reduce hunger, are usually limited to giving out canned fruit and vegetables, but this program worked to provide fresh produce and dairy products to address that nutritional gap. Power up allowed patrons of the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant (another Spokane run program) to receive a gallon of 2% milk and a specific fresh vegetable once a week.
Q: What was your role in the program?
M: Once the program began it became apparent that several patrons didn’t know how to use these fresh vegetables that were being distributed. The staff was finding huge amounts of the raw vegetables in the trash. My role was to attempt to teach the patrons ways to use these vegetables and why they should be used. How I did this was by making pamphlets that could be given out with the produce that described how to prepare the produce and the benefits the vegetables could have on their health.
Q: Do you feel the program had positive effects?
M: I think for some people it was successful in introducing more fresh produce and dairy into their diets at home. There were still patrons who threw away the produce even with the educational material, which was disappointing. However, I think overall the program had a positive effect on the community.
This is an example of a community based programmed funded by private organizations.
There are plenty of programs like this across our nation. The federal government provides many valuable resources through their nutrition programs, but small operation, community-based programs can bring about positive change in the health status of community members as well. There are many resources available to those who are food insecure, and I believe that increasing knowledge of these resources is a step in the right direction.