Allen’s Exploring Nutrition Project aims to end hunger through annual food drive and community outreach

Our neighborhood is filled with history and culture, but there is one problem: hunger. Because hunger affects 1 in 4 people in Philadelphia alone, Dr. Marjorie Allen, a professor at La Salle University, created a project that aims to raise awareness and ultimately end hunger.

fruits and veggies

Exploring Nutrition, Allen’s project, was created as a way to show the neighborhood that the university cared about hunger. Allen wanted to create a solution for food insecurity through service learning, academic partnerships, and participation from students and faculty. Her mission is “to have a positive impact on the neighborhood’s health and nutritional well-being by pooling collective resources and expertise through a partnership with local businesses, community organizations, and religious institutions”.

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Members from the Exploring Nutrition Project volunteer at the annual Easter Food Drive.

 

Philadelphia is the eighth city in America that does not have enough food. In Philadelphia, 49 percent of people do not have shelter, 60 percent of people are unemployed, and 20 percent of food assistance is unmet. Even though 460,000 people receive food stamps, 150,000 eligible people in Philadelphia do not receive benefits. Food insecurity is directly correlated with low incomes. Because the average income in our neighborhood is lower than most incomes, nutrition is diminished.

Pheed Philadelphia was established in 2011 at La Salle University.

Pheed Philadelphia was established in 2011 at La Salle University.

Another organization at La Salle that aims to raise awareness is Pheed Philadelphia. Established in 2011, Pheed Philadelphia is an on campus student organization that is devoted to raising hunger awareness. There are a total of 10 coordinators that visit various soup kitchens, such as St. Francis Inn, Face-to-Face, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, and Blessed Sarnelli House, four times a week. Pheed Philadelphia chooses to raise awareness for hunger because 870 million people worldwide suffer from hunger.

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The main reason for hunger is due to a lack of power, money, and resources. Low incomes make it difficult for individuals and families to eat nutritious foods. According to the Community Health Data Base, 59 percent of adults receive 0-2 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Lack of nutritious food is also directly related to obesity. About 50 percent of adults eat fast food once or more per week, arguably because of income. Fast food is convenient because it is so cheap, but it affects health and weight. In our neighborhood, 35 percent of adults are obese and 24 percent of children are obese. About 44 percent of adults do not exercise three of more times a week, and 28 percent of children do not regularly exercise.

Members of Christ United unload food from the Easter Food Drive.

Members of Christ United unload food from the Easter Food Drive.

 

Prior to the Fresh Grocer, the neighborhood was a food desert. It was filled with corner stores and fast food places that lacked healthy and nutritional food options. Most corners still have small convenience stores that sell “fast food” with low nutrients. Because healthier options are often more expensive, residents must resort to eating frozen vegetables and canned fruits. This lack of access also causes hunger. With the help of the University, the Fresh Grocer was built in order to provide residents with access to healthier meal options. Each year, the University and the Fresh Grocer partner to provide communities in need with fresh produce through the Easter Food Drive. This food drive assists 11 faith-based institutions who struggle with hunger and food insecurity. This year, the Easter Food Drive donated over 4,000 pounds of fresh produce, including carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, oranges, collard greens, green beans, broccoli, and corn, to surrounding communities in need.

Above is a map of the 11 faith-based communities that were assisted during the Easter Food Drive. The Easter Food Drive successfully assisted 11 communities in need this year, but there is still a need for action. One attempt to end hunger is the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act. This act aims to solve one of the world’s biggest problems: food waste. An astounding 1.3 billion metric tons of food is wasted worldwide, causing food waste to be one of the biggest environmental and social problems yet.

About 40 percent of food in the United States is thrown away.

About 40 percent of food in the United States is thrown away.

Among the 1.3 billion tons, about 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted and thrown into landfills. That’s almost half. Half of the food that Americans handle is either rotten or thrown into a garbage can without thought. More than 20 pounds of food per person goes uneaten, and this is the equivalent of throwing away $165 billion per year. Not only is money being wasted, but people are also starving.

The Fighting Hunger Incentive Act aims to encourage supermarkets, restaurants, and farms to donate their excess food. This sounds appealing to hungry Americans, however the Obama Administration is threatening to veto it. A major reason for the threat is due to money loss. It is estimated that the tax code rewrite will reduce government revenue by $2.2 billion. This act will benefit food banks, but it will not benefit tax payers.

Hunger is a serious global issue that currently has no solution. With efforts such as the Exploring Nutrition Project, Pheed Philadelphia, the Easter Food Drive, and the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act, awareness can be increased and hunger can ultimately be ended. The Exploring Nutrition Project is dedicated to actively assisting residents because our neighborhood is severely affected by hunger and poverty. “I am convinced we can make a difference”, said Allen.

Above is the final group video that summarizes Pheed Philadelphia, the Exploring Nutrition Project, and the annual Easter Food Drive.

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New Dietary Guidelines for Americans spark controversy

Everything in moderation” is the common phrase people associate with eating and healthy eating. But is moderation really good for Americans? Every five years, the dietary guidelines for Americans are updated. These guidelines suggest what to eat, how much to eat, and what to eliminate. They have typically not been controversial, until recently.

The newest guidelines suggest Americans should eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat free dairy products, lean meat, and little to no red meat. Americans are permitted to comment on the document, and many have shown outrage. This is seen as controversial because the guidelines recommend eating little red or processed meat. Professor Jule Ann Henstemburg of the nursing and health sciences department explained why red meat is so bad for us.

Consuming more fruits and veggies increases health.

Consuming more fruits and veggies increases health.

Red meat consumes a lot of resources and is harmful to mass produce. Studies have shown that the production of red meat pollutes our earth more than transportation. According to a United Nations report, 18 percent of greenhouse gases come from meat and 13 percent of gases come from transportation. The study also concludes that making one hamburger pollutes the air more than driving a car 20 miles, meat production and consumption contributes to destruction of the Amazon Rainforest, and one hamburger destroys 55 square feet of the Rainforest.

Along with environmental effects, red meat is bad for our health. Decreasing our red meat consumption reduces heart disease, limits cancer rate, fights diabetes, curbs obesity, improves diet, and helps us live longer. Recently, there has been a campaign called “Meatless Monday” that encourages individuals to abstain from eating meat once a week. Abstaining from meat once a week ultimately can improve health, reduce carbon footprint, minimize water usage, reduce fuel dependence, and improve the overall state of our environment. Our health is important, and improving it should be our main priority.

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Easter Food Drive provides fresh produce to communities in need

Each year, La Salle University partners with The Fresh Grocer to provide communities in need with fresh produce. The Easter Food Drive donated over 4,000 pounds of fresh produce to 11 different faith-based institutions. Click on the photo below to view a slideshow of this year’s Easter Food Drive.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF TYLER HARPER.

Members of Christ United unload food from the Easter Food Drive.

Members of Christ United unload food from the Easter Food Drive.

Local clinic aims to end obesity through behavioral weight loss programs

With spring on the horizon and summer right around the corner, everyone is talking about one thing: getting in shape. According to The New York Times, the average person gains 7 to 10 pounds around the holiday season, and losing that weight can be tough in the spring and summer. Candy, especially Easter candy, fatty foods, and lack of exercise can all lead to rapid weight gain. Some may feel overwhelmed trying to lose weight, but there is help. Edie Goldbacher, a clinical health psychologist, supervises a clinic that helps individuals maintain healthy eating patterns through behavioral weight loss programs.

Goldbacher’s clinic aims to help members maintain healthy eating patterns and a healthy weight by behavioral weight loss treatments. The cost varies depending on income, usually $10-$25 per session, and the clinic aims to help the most in need. The programs run anywhere between 12-20 weeks, with weekly meetings about an hour long. The clinic aims to educate members on nutrition, promote physical activity, and identify and modify eating behaviors and unhelpful thinking patterns. Members are weighed weekly to track progress.

Edie Goldbacher supervises the local clinic.

Edie Goldbacher supervises the local clinic.

Obesity has drastically increased since 1990, partially due to environmental, social, behavioral, and psychological factors. Availability, cost, advertising, portion sizes, and environmental characteristics are all factors that influence obesity. Food deserts contribute to obesity because of the lack of fresh and healthy food. This limits the amount spent on food, causing individuals to choose cheap fast food options. Stress and lack of social support combined with mindless and unintentional eating, unhelpful eating patterns, sedentary behaviors, and emotion also influence obesity.

The program strives to address prevention through treatment while encouraging a healthy lifestyle. It is important for members to understand that it is a lifestyle and not a diet. Behavioral weight loss treatments address all factors, while acknowledging the role of biological and genetic factors. “Genetics load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger”, says Goldbacher.

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Fighting Hunger Incentive Act aims to solve food waste

A few times a week, I have the privilege of dining at La Salle’s finest: Blue & Gold (B&G). Like most do at a buffet-style restaurant, I fill my plate with various foods that I would enjoy trying. If I don’t like something on my plate, I push it aside and eat something else. After my meal, all of the left-over food on my plate is placed on the conveyor belt and sent to be thrown away, and this action contributes to one of the world’s biggest problems: food waste

About 20 pounds of food per person is wasted monthly.

About 20 pounds of food per person is wasted monthly.

An astounding 1.3 billion metric tons of food is wasted worldwide, causing food waste to be one of the biggest environmental and social problems yet. Among the 1.3 billion tons, about 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted and thrown into landfills. That’s almost half. Half of the food that Americans handle is either rotten or thrown into a garbage can without thought. What can be done to fix this problem, you ask? The answer is the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act.

This act aims to encourage supermarkets, restaurants, and farms to donate their excess food. This sounds appealing to hungry Americans, however the Obama Administration is threatening to veto it. A major reason for the threat is due to money loss. It is estimated that the tax code rewrite will reduce government revenue by $2.2 billion. This act will benefit food banks, but it will not benefit tax payers.

About 40 percent of food in the United States is thrown away.

About 40 percent of food in the United States is thrown away.

In a typically month in the United States, more than 20 pounds of food per person goes uneaten. That is the equivalent of throwing away $165 billion per year. Not only is money being wasted, people are also starving. Hunger is a serious global issue that currently has no solution. We must work together as a nation to pass the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act in order to stop food waste and help the hungry.

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Exploring Nutrition project heads to the streets

The neighborhood of Olney is filled with corner stores and fast food places that lack healthy and nutritional food options. Most corners have small convenience stores that sell “fast food” with low nutrients. Because healthier options are often more expensive, residents of Olney must resort to eating frozen vegetables and canned fruits. Some neighborhood residents commented on their food choices in their local area.

Poverty is hitting hard in PA

Poverty is peaking in PA and Philly. About 1.7 million people in the United States are living in poverty, or below the average income line. As poverty increases, so does food insecurity. Poverty and food insecurity are directly correlated, especially in the city of Philadelphia.

It is important to know and understand that poverty exists everywhere, especially in our neighborhood.