Food Equity and Food Environment, Understanding Nutrition Challenges from Virtual Dietitian

In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to understand the challenges of food equity, food environment, and access to healthy, inexpensive nutritional options. COVID-19 has exposed the egregious problems of inequity not only in the United States but around the world. Nutrition education is becoming an essential way to promote health and wellness for all.

The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) published a report on the studies of consumption patterns for Americans. Lower-income households consume foods higher in salt and sugar content, which can lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, food insecurity is a real problem that low to middle-income households experience, leading to higher incidences of health problems related to blood-sugar control. That’s where virtual nutrition counseling comes in – to provide guidance and support to make healthy food choices, no matter your income level.

Access to nutrition education and information shouldn’t be exclusive. There are many avenues to receive guidance on sustainable eating and waste reduction. The concept of food equity is that all people should have the ability and opportunity to grow and consume healthful, affordable, and culturally significant foods. By understanding food equity platforms, policymakers can work towards improving the food chain and finding viable solutions to making healthier, better food environments for everyone.

Nutrition education is critical in schools, community centers, factories, workplaces, and more in order to influence behavior and have consumers choose differently. This has to do with everything from understanding food labels to how to prepare different foods. By making affordable, healthy options available and increasing nutrition education, we can improve access to healthy food choices for everyone.

The food environment refers to the availability and proximity of healthy food options in a community. This includes the physical presence of food in places like grocery stores and restaurants, as well as the distance a person must travel to access these options. Access to healthy food is influenced by many factors, such as a person’s budget and the safety of the areas where healthy food options are located.

You often hear, “Just buy an apple. Choose better.”

It’s not that simple. Food inequality is a complex issue that affects many people. In densely populated neighborhoods, for example, the only food options may be convenience stores that do not offer many fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, people on a low budget may find it difficult to obtain enough calories from healthy food options, which can be more expensive than less nutritious alternatives.

The United States’ food environment is often considered toxic due to the abundance of unhealthy options and lack of nutrition knowledge. To improve food equity and access to healthy options, policy makers can support small farm, urban, and community agriculture initiatives and work with community leaders to find solutions that fit each community’s unique needs. Nutrition education is also crucial in influencing behavior and encouraging consumers to make healthier choices.

Affordable and healthy options must be available to ensure that everyone has access to healthy food choices. By fighting for food equity and improved food environments, we can begin to address the issue of food inequality and work towards a healthier future for all.

Some organizations to look out for and support are:

Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners
Chef Ann Foundation
DC Central Kitchen
Dreaming Out Loud (DOL)
Edible Manhattan
Feeding America
Food Corps
Grow NYC