The Great Plains Food Bank (GPFB) is committed to providing a healthy and nutritionally balanced mix of foods to our clients and partner agencies. We believe it is our responsibility to provide food resources that improve community health as we pursue our mission to end hunger.
Impact of Inadequate Nutrition on Food Insecure Individuals and Families
People struggling with hunger have limited resources to buy the nutritious foods that are critical to their overall health, growth and development. For those who struggle to afford or access nutritious foods, inexpensive and unhealthy foods are sometimes the only option. This can lead to increased risk of obesity and other systemic health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.
In addition to the same influences that have led to high obesity rates among the general population, low-income people are also faced with limited resources to buy nutritious foods that are often higher priced, the need to buy cheaper and less nutritious calorie dense foods in order to maximize caloric intake, cycles of deprivation followed by overeating that can lead to weight gain, and high levels of stress that can impact dietary intake.
In order to meet the nutritional needs of those who are unable to access or afford the variety and quantity of foods necessary for a healthful diet, the Great Plains Food Bank has implemented the following measures:
- Set an annual goal to increase the percentage of nutritious food distributed.
- Enhance efforts to increase the nutritional quality of all food streams.
- Provide partner emergency feeding programs with an annual report on the mix of products they order compared to the nationally recognized MyPlate dietary guidelines, reinforcing a shift towards accessing healthier products through a review of the report during site visits by GPFB staff.
- Provide nutrition education for partner agencies through direct and on-line training, nutrition tips and healthy recipes prepared with food bank products in agency newsletters, links to nutrition resources on the website agency portal and a variety of food safety training opportunities.
While the GPFB provides a large percentage of the food distributed through charitable feeding programs in North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota we are only one of the sources of food for those experiencing food insecurity. In order to provide clients with additional opportunities to access nutritious foods to meet their dietary needs we will:
- Provide training to food pantries and feeding programs that will assist them in developing local sources of nutritious foods or secure additional resources to purchase products to fill gaps in products that are not available through GPFB;
- Provide screening and application assistance for the SNAP program to provide clients with resources to access additional nutritious products that may not be available through the food bank or our partner agencies;
- Provide brochures for each of the 54 counties served listing additional resources available; and
- Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with other nutritious foods, provided in rural areas identified as “food deserts” where healthy foods are either unavailable or high-priced due to a lack of nearby supermarkets through the mobile food pantry program, perishable food drops, rural delivery program and agency grants for increased produce refrigeration capacity.
Through these and other means, the Great Plains Food Bank is strategically committed to providing food for healthy and balanced meals for our clients who struggle to afford or access nutritious food.