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Update to the Community: Hunger and Health

Making sure healthy food is a real, affordable, and easy choice was the motivating message coming out of our recent weekly update to the community on COVID response. The economic hardships of COVID-19 have left many more people hungry, creating another health crisis nested within this pandemic. And finding early, healthy and sustained interventions to surging hunger is critical for long term health outcomes.

The Harvard School of Public Health recently declared the long-term health outlook for those reliant on cheap calories to be grim. Specifically, consumption of easy-to-find and afford convenience food increases weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and risk of premature death. People who regularly go without enough food live with six times the diet-related diseases as those who are food secure. That’s where things stood pre COVID.

“Most of what determines whether we’re healthy is a number of social and environmental factors—one of which is nutrition, or the absence of nutrition, hunger,” explained Dr. Marc Gorelick, President and CEO of Children’s Minnesota. “While we have to provide top-notch medical care, and we do, we also have to pay attention to those other health determinants and their impacts.”

Here’s how Second Harvest Heartland and Children’s Minnesota, alongside many community partners, are working not only to end hunger, but in the healthiest way possible:

  • Last year, 65% of the food we delivered to the community was fresh. We’re proud to continue that commitment during COVID, thanks in part to our Fresh Produce Initiative.
  • Our FOODRx program integrates with health care systems to provide holistic food security solutions, including directly connecting patients to nutritious food and education.
  • Our team of SNAP Outreach Specialists work to enroll eligible families in SNAP, formerly food stamps, so they have the means to access healthier food.
  • Community Connect is an initiative that’s transforming Children’s Minnesota’s approach to health care by connecting families to existing community resources, including housing, food and other needs, often leveraging our FOODRx and SNAP outreach programs.

For immediate food assistance resources:

Watch the full update to the community on hunger and health here:

Our next community update is August 24 at 9 a.m. Stay tuned to our social pages for video and call information.