National Nutrition Month: Barriers to Nutrition Security
This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month highlights the fact that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We know this is true – because we are all unique with different bodies, goals and backgrounds.
We recognize that when it comes to accessibility and availability of foods that support healthy eating, there are disparities – meaning some people face specific barriers based on their circumstances. Furthermore, access to healthy food is an important social determinant health, but is not well-understood. Food-access is multidimensional and relates to physical access to stores (distance and density), affordability and quality of available food, and access to culturally appropriate foods (Rose et al., 2010).
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our neighbors in Arkansas continue to struggle with unprecedented hardships, especially hunger. The American Rescue Plan Act responds to the alarming growth in food hardship due to the COVID crisis, which has disproportionately affected households with children and communities of color.
The American Rescue Plan Act includes $12 billion in key investments to food assistance programs to mitigate the nation’s extraordinarily high levels of hunger and hardship. The major food-assistance provisions include:
- Help guard against food hardship among children this summer by allowing states to continue the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program, which provides grocery benefits to replace meals that children miss when schools are closed for 5 consecutive days;
- Invest in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to modernize the program, support innovative service delivery models, conduct robust outreach, and temporarily raise the amount of fruit and vegetables participants can obtain;
- Increase federal resources for state administrative costs to help states accommodate the increased demand for SNAP; and
- Help address elevated food need in Puerto Rico and certain other U.S. territories.
In addition, the USDA has extended the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase in December’s COVID relief package through September, which will help millions of families and children have enough to eat while injecting additional, high “bang-for-the-buck” stimulus into the economy. As important as these provisions are, more food assistance will be needed to overcome the heightened levels of hunger our communities are facing. Feeding America projects that for 2021, approximately 75,000 additional people in Arkansas—a 30% increase—could experience food insecurity due in part to the ongoing economic fallout from COVID-19.
How you can help:
- Consider a gift. By supporting Arkansas Foodbank, you’re helping feed Arkansans who aren’t sure where they’ll find their next meal. For every dollar donated, the Foodbank can provide food for FIVE meals. Learn more.
- Spread the word. Follow the Foodbank on social media and help us spread the story of hunger in our state. We all have a role to play in making sure our neighbors are well-fed, and that begins by staying informed and spreading the word. Learn more.
- Collect food or raise funds on behalf of the Foodbank. By rallying your friends, family or colleagues, you can make a huge difference in the lives of our neighbors experiencing hunger. Learn more.
Join the fun! Follow along with our National Nutrition Month activities. Thanks to Ambetter from Arkansas Health & Wellness, our 2021 National Nutrition Month sponsor!