Food pantries encourage customers to stay well by eating healthily

8 months 3 weeks 4 days ago Monday, December 26 2016 Dec 26, 2016 Monday, December 26, 2016 3:51:00 PM CST December 26, 2016 in News
By: Kristen Reesor, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - Food pantry customers not only struggle to put food on the table, they're also more likely to have certain health conditions. Food pantries in mid-Missouri try to help by providing healthy food options and educating people on proper health.

According to research from MU's Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security, "Food pantry clients are more likely to be diabetic, have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, or be obese, compared to state averages."

Project coordinator Bill McKelvey cites several factors.

"It could be that folks don't have access to good health care; they don't have regular check ups with the doctor," he said. "It could also be food and diet related, so if they don't have access to healthier foods, that can be an issue."

Poverty and unhealthy eating habits are linked because foods high in fat, sodium and sugar, like snack cakes and TV dinners, are often cheaper than healthy meals or produce. To satisfy their need for healthy food, some people visit food pantries. 

The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri provides food that feeds about 100,000 people a month in 32 counties. Executive Director Lindsay Lopez said the bank established a goal for 25 percent of its acquired and distributed food to be fresh produce.

Brenda Harris visits the Central Pantry once a month to help feed her two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She said it is hard to get food for them at times because of the price of food. She said she's grateful for the pantry and its produce selection, which includes leafy greens, berries, corn, citrus and more.

"It's a blessing," Harris said. "My grand babies can actually get the food and nutrients that they need to be healthy."

The Food Bank partners with organizations, like the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, to collect food. The bank's communications coordinator, Janese Silvey, said one day food pantry volunteers picked up about 1,500 pounds of food just from one grocery. 

The food pantry also has items like canned goods, peanut butter, chicken, bread and cereal.

Lopez said, "Well over 50 to 60 percent of the food that we are acquiring and distributing is coming in the form of, not only the fresh produce, but the canned and frozen fruits and vegetables and proteins."

But the bank won't turn away snack food donations, either. Often the products of local bakeries, sweets like cookie mixes, icing and cupcakes dot the shelves.  

Some food banks, like ones in California and Washington, D.C., have opted not to accept junk food, but McKelvey said creating a policy like that could cause some retail donors to back out completely, and then pantries would have a harder time stocking their shelves.

Silvey said rejecting food like pastries doesn't make sense because if the bank did, the food would end up in a landfill when it could have gone to help feed someone. She said giving clients the power to choose what they get is important.

McKelvey said, "I think most people would agree that some food is better than no food, but when we take a step back from that and look at some of the diet-related health conditions that people face, the question becomes a lot more complicated."

"There's an opportunity for food banks and food pantries to have a conversation with their donors, so to sit down and to maybe look at the types of food that are being donated and really begin a conversation about ways to shift towards healthier foods," he said. 

He said this will take time, but thinks donors will want to do better after knowing the facts about health conditions among food pantry customers.

In the meantime, food pantries are not turning a blind eye on nutrition. Posters on healthy eating, staying active and correct plate proportions are posted on the walls at the Central Pantry, and clients are welcome to take pamphlets on nutritious recipes. 

"Some pantries also partner with other public health agencies or other groups that might offer health screenings," McKelvey said. He said that gives people a chance to learn early on if they have a health condition that needs treatment.

The Food Bank also has a partnership with Grow Well Missouri. The program gives free seeds and educational materials to customers at about a dozen food pantries so they can start their own gardens.

McKelvey, who spearheaded the project, said, "Growing your own food provides you with a ready source of very healthy and fresh food, and so, you know, fruits and vegetables are really good for trying to ward off different types of chronic health conditions."

He said the participants also become relaxed and gain a sense of accomplishment through gardening.

"They take pride in what they've grown," McKelvey said. "They take a lot of pride in being able to share what they've grown with folks in their community."

Grow Well Missouri begins again in March for the last year of its grant. It is training food pantry staff to distribute seeds and teach customers so the program can continue.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Home Instead Senior Care in Columbia is set to host a day of education: Alzheimer's Learning Day. ... More >>
4 hours ago Thursday, September 21 2017 Sep 21, 2017 Thursday, September 21, 2017 2:53:00 AM CDT September 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri has received a grant from the American Cancer Society and CVS Health Foundation to... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 6:55:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Kansas City police have arrested a person of interest in the shooting death of an off-duty... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 6:55:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is set to end on Sept. 30. The program... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 6:33:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Hasbro and Missouri UnitedHealthcare developed a wristband that can help reduce child obesity while getting kids up... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 6:32:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police could be wearing body cameras within 60 to 90 days. After a... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 6:02:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
OSAGE BEACH - A firefighter was hospitalized with heat exhaustion after responding to a condo building fire Wednesday at 9:54... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 5:53:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
ASHLAND - The Southern Boone School Board is taking a new approach on unpaid school lunches. Parents not paying... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 5:52:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - David Robinson is one of the hundreds of people who will lose help paying his utilities, if a... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 5:50:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
FULTON - Buying food locally can save gas and money and get the food to the table faster. A family... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 5:26:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A Missouri couple who accidentally dropped a $3,000 engagement ring into a pond has had a... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 5:16:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A local group dedicated to helping women reenter the workforce is hosting a clothing drive. The Women's Network... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 5:04:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Latest on protests in St. Louis over a judge's acquittal of a former white police... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 5:02:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis is suspended while police investigate... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 4:32:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Authorities say a Missouri man molested an 11-year-old girl he met using the MeetMe dating app. ... More >>
15 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 4:14:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Personal and corporate income taxes currently account for about 75 percent of Missouri's revenue. The state's... More >>
15 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 4:02:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY- Pioneer Trail Elementary School music teacher Andrew Berhorst acts as a crossing guard for the school in the... More >>
15 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 3:33:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - CrimeStoppers is offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest for a robbery that happened... More >>
16 hours ago Wednesday, September 20 2017 Sep 20, 2017 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 3:10:00 PM CDT September 20, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 72°
8am 75°
9am 77°
10am 80°
11am 83°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
7:00a
Maury
8:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
American Ninja Warrior
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
Penn & Teller: Fool Us
8:00p
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
8:30p
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld