Today I attended a community meeting titled "Food for Thought." It had a panel of experts which included the director of a food bank (a retired tobacco exec!!!), two school food and nutrition employees, a community member(college graduate, mother of two and a food stamp recipient), health department community nutritionist, and the director of the Food and Nutrition Services at the local social services department. The forum was focused on food insecurity, but food deserts were also mentioned. I attended because I misunderstood and thought the primary purpose of the gathering was to discuss how access to food type correlates to overweight and obesity.
The food desert inclusion was important, but seemed misplaced. The panel members were stressing that many of the residents of our county were going hungry. At the end of the presentation and questions, a documentary film was shown. It was called Food Stamped. It explored the difficulty people face meeting the recommended guidelines for healthy eating when on benefits. The film started by giving numbers and graphic images of our overweight problem.
I felt that two separate messages were being given at this meeting and that it might be better to present them individually. They are both extremely important.
The spokesperson from DSS gave us some information about who was on food stamps(SNAP/EBT) in order to challenge some myths. The community member who was on food stamps added that the people receiving benefits need our understanding as much as our help.
The refreshments that they provided were NOT that bad. Sandwiches on whole wheat bread, water to drink BUT two trays of cookies and one tray of fruit. (guess why - cookies are cheaper - and isn't that the problem!)
Also today, three things related to the posts from the last two days came to my attention so I have to share them. I received emails from the IOM and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation about the Weight of the Nation Conference in DC and the HBO documentary -both referencing the new report on Accelerating Progress. Additionally, the Diane Rhem Show discussed the same and had as guests, experts in the field. I linked all for you.
The IOM link has a really AWESOME graphic that I'd love to share with you. You can click on this link to get to it, but you may have to then click the picture again to maximize it - to make it bigger so you can see the really cool pictures and the obesity related numbers that go along with them.
BTW - I had to go past the Guilford County Courthouse to go to this meeting. The street was lined with TV station vans - i.e. John Edwards. There were NOT any reporters at the community forum. Sad isn't it.