November 28, 2021

Acqua NYC

Fit And Go Forward

Choosing between healthy or cheap food a dilemma for thousands of metro residents

Choosing between healthy or cheap food a dilemma for thousands of metro residents

Basic needs for surviving a regular day are hard to come by for people in our area.”It’s harder for people to get access to food, especially here in Mississippi, already,” said Leslye Bastos-Ortega, project manager with UMMC Everscare Clinic.Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food to live a healthy, active life. According to Feeding America, nearly 90,000 adults and children in the Jackson metro area met the food insecurity threshold for 2021. Feeding America compiled the following data. Hinds County: 37,490 food insecure people 15.7% Children: 13,400 | 22.9% Rankin County: 19,280 food insecure people 12.6% Children: 3,840 | 10.7% Madison County: 12,470 food insecure people Children: 3,200 | 12.2%”Some families may only have a limited amount of money. Sometimes it’s easier for them to just go get junk food than it is for them to get a healthier item,” Bastos-Ortega said.In some cases, it’s about putting something — anything — on the table for the family just to get through the day without being hungry. But those cheap eats with poor nutrients can have long-term consequences.”You are going to have the outcome of higher risk of heart disease, higher risk of diabetes, higher risk of high cholesterol,” said registered dietician Rebecca Turner. “So, you see families who do live on a food insecure income for generations, specifically, then you do have those chronic disease outcomes.”Hinds County officials have been handing out supplemental healthy food items. Cars lined up for even basic items, like sweet potatoes.”We’ve met several families that have come through, and they’ve been so gracious to receive the little bit that they’re getting. So, yes, it’s very important that we do what we do in Hinds County,” said Chris Gray Sr., Hinds County District 4 special projects officer.”People don’t want a handout. They don’t want to come and be in the line to get food, but they know that they have to. Some of them have children. They have people that depend on them,” said Dr. Portia Ballard-Espy, president and CEO of the Mississippi Urban League.The Everscare Pantry has been able to stay open through the pandemic. It’s a partnership between the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the Urban League and the Mississippi Food Network.”We try to make sure that people’s dignities are kept intact. They are friends when they come through that line, and we see ourselves in them as they come through that line. We also want to make sure that we can check to see if there are other needs that they have,” Ballard-Espy said.Moving forward, the hope is that the root causes will be fixed before the next pandemic.”Those inequities that exist, we need to be figuring out now how to eliminate those so that we don’t have this happen in the future,” Ballard-Espy said.

Basic needs for surviving a regular day are hard to come by for people in our area.

“It’s harder for people to get access to food, especially here in Mississippi, already,” said Leslye Bastos-Ortega, project manager with UMMC Everscare Clinic.

Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food to live a healthy, active life. According to Feeding America, nearly 90,000 adults and children in the Jackson metro area met the food insecurity threshold for 2021. Feeding America compiled the following data.

  • Hinds County: 37,490 food insecure people 15.7%

Children: 13,400 | 22.9%

  • Rankin County: 19,280 food insecure people 12.6%

Children: 3,840 | 10.7%

  • Madison County: 12,470 food insecure people

Children: 3,200 | 12.2%

“Some families may only have a limited amount of money. Sometimes it’s easier for them to just go get junk food than it is for them to get a healthier item,” Bastos-Ortega said.

In some cases, it’s about putting something — anything — on the table for the family just to get through the day without being hungry. But those cheap eats with poor nutrients can have long-term consequences.

“You are going to have the outcome of higher risk of heart disease, higher risk of diabetes, higher risk of high cholesterol,” said registered dietician Rebecca Turner. “So, you see families who do live on a food insecure income for generations, specifically, then you do have those chronic disease outcomes.”

Hinds County officials have been handing out supplemental healthy food items. Cars lined up for even basic items, like sweet potatoes.

“We’ve met several families that have come through, and they’ve been so gracious to receive the little bit that they’re getting. So, yes, it’s very important that we do what we do in Hinds County,” said Chris Gray Sr., Hinds County District 4 special projects officer.

“People don’t want a handout. They don’t want to come and be in the line to get food, but they know that they have to. Some of them have children. They have people that depend on them,” said Dr. Portia Ballard-Espy, president and CEO of the Mississippi Urban League.

The Everscare Pantry has been able to stay open through the pandemic. It’s a partnership between the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the Urban League and the Mississippi Food Network.

“We try to make sure that people’s dignities are kept intact. They are friends when they come through that line, and we see ourselves in them as they come through that line. We also want to make sure that we can check to see if there are other needs that they have,” Ballard-Espy said.

Moving forward, the hope is that the root causes will be fixed before the next pandemic.

“Those inequities that exist, we need to be figuring out now how to eliminate those so that we don’t have this happen in the future,” Ballard-Espy said.

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