Support Your Local United Way

Healthy Kids Community Activation Center - Increase Access to Healthy Food

On a national level, Congress is considering the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill, which funds healthier food options for millions of kids. Contact your members of Congress as one of their constituents to support a strong, kid-friendly bill (link to Advocate section of KGF or to Cap Whiz or other relevant parts of overall site).

On a local level, "food desert" is a term to describe urban or rural neighborhoods without access to affordable, healthy food. They have no supermarkets and the corner/convenience stores do not stock produce, low-fat meat and dairy or other healthier choices. Researchers have found a connection between food deserts and higher incidences of obesity and diabetes.

Zoning and economic policies can encourage healthier food options, especially in lower-income rural and urban communities. It may sound daunting, but it's not. As a voter and taxpayer, you can make your views known and have an impact.

How to Start ...

  • Join with others. Many local United Ways and other organizations are active in increasing access to healthy food. If you cannot find a group, ask at farmers' markets or call your local health department or United Way.
  • Support farmers' markets. Farmers will only sell locally grown produce if they have customers to buy it. Take kids to a local market to see the produce and learn how it is grown. If the market is not set up to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer payments (food assistance programs for lower-income residents), ask how you can support getting the necessary equipment in place.
  • Support nutrition education. If businesses stock healthier food, especially perishable produce, they need to know they can sell it. Support nutrition education and programs in schools and communities so people buy healthier stuff when it's available.

To Learn More ...

About food deserts and ways to reduce them in the U.S. Department of Agriculture report, Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food-Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences

Or Consider This ...

Millions of kids eat one or two meals a day at school through federal Child Nutrition programs-often the bulk of their daily nutrition. The Women Infants and Children, or WIC, program also provides food assistance to babies and small children.

Congress is considering the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill right now. You can contact your Senators and representative to request that the bill-

  • Improve program access and participation by underserved children
  • Enhance nutrition quality and provide adequate reimbursement so, for example, school cafeterias can serve healthy food
  • Modernize and streamline nutrition programs so children benefit.

Share with Others ...

Are people in your community active in this issue? Tell us how!