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Ticket to a healthier community? #FightHunger

At Allina Health, we know health care doesn't just happen in clinics and hospitals. Research shows social needs, such as income; access to food, housing, and transportation; educational achievement; and experiences with violence affect health outcomes. In fact, evidence suggests only 20 percent of health can be attributed to medical care, while social, economic and genetic factors account for 80 percent. Some of these social needs are food insecurity or hunger, unreliable transportation, housing instability, high utility bills and feeling unsafe in your home and your community. If a crisis hits, you may have to make tough choices. Do you pay your rent or mortgage? If your car dies, can you afford a different vehicle or take public transportation instead? Do you pay your utility now or wait until your next paycheck? Do you skip dinner tonight so your child can sleep well on a full stomach?

While all of these health-related social needs are challenging and can lead to stress, food insecurity is one of the biggest barriers to health we face in our community. In Minnesota one in 10 people are food insecure, including one in six households with kids under six-years-old. More than six people visit a food shelf every minute in Minnesota. 

It's during these stressful times when families need access to fresh, nutritious food to help nourish and sustain their health, strength and immune system. Food insecurity puts people at increased risk for high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, Type II diabetes, obesity, anemia, asthma, depression, and behavior problems in children. And, food insecurity in young children is associated with poorer overall quality of life and it may prevent kids from fully participating in school and social activities with friends. 

Because of limited resources, people in food insecure households—especially the elderly—may be forced to choose food over medication, postpone preventive or medical care, or be unable to purchase the types of foods needed for a special diet. Plus, a lack of nutritious food can interfere with the effectiveness of many medications.

People who struggle with food insecurity often cope by:

  • Skipping meals or reducing food portions
  • Eating stale food or purchasing cheaper processed or canned food
  • Relying on food from family and friends 
  • Eating less so their children have enough
  • Consuming fewer fruits, vegetables and protein-rich food, relying more on energy-dense, high-salt foods

What can you do if you or someone you know is facing health challenges due to food insecurity? Here are some resources you can recommend:

Minnesota Food Helpline Hunger Solutions services reach every county in the state and can connect clients to food resources near them.

Market Bucks A SNAP/EBT match at partnering farmers markets where eligible families can receive up to a $10 match.

Fare for All A mobile discount grocery program where clients can purchase fresh produce and frozen lean meats at 40 percent off retail process. Fare for All is open to everyone and because we buy food in bulk, the more people who participate the better.

Twin Cities Mobile Market A grocery store on wheels that brings affordable, healthy food directly into neighborhoods that don't have easy access to fresh produce, meat and groceries.

Meals on Wheels A non-profit that provides fresh, nutritious meals delivered directly to the homes of seniors and people with disabilities throughout the Twin Cities.

Women Infants and Children (WIC) A federal program for pregnant women and parents with kids under five-years-old who receive vouchers to purchase specific food items like dairy and whole grains.

To learn more about World Food Day and how you can #FightHunger visit the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations.


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