Of the meals distributed by Northern Illinois Food Bank, many fit into the category of Foods to Encourage (or F2E), an initiative through which the Food Bank strives to distribute whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and fruits and vegetables to neighbors in need.
This commitment to provide nutritious food is especially appreciated by LaChrista, a mother of five children between the ages of one and 14 who, along with her husband, is raising their family on a vegetarian diet. We met LaChrista at Salvation Army Food Pantry in DeKalb, where she expressed gratitude in knowing she doesn’t have to compromise her family’s healthy lifestyle just because she and her husband are struggling to make ends meet.
“It helps being able to come to the food pantry to see what’s here and what fruits and vegetables are available,” LaChrista said.
As LaChrista made her way through the aisles of the food pantry with her two youngest children in tow, she filled her shopping cart with pasta, rice, baby spinach and arugula, fruit cups, blackberries, dried cranberries and hummus. Her eyes lit up as she selected organic ground flax-seed for her and her husband and organic grape fruit bites for their kids.
When she arrived at the pantry’s personal care section, she was thrilled to pick up natural hair and body wash and all natural breast milk supply, two products you’d typically find at grocery stores that provide organic products. “This is definitely an unexpected surprise,” she said of the breast milk supply.
LaChrista and her husband moved to DeKalb three years ago from the south suburbs of Chicago. Her husband works, but his income isn’t enough to cover the family’s expenses. LaChrista hopes to soon find part-time employment, but for now she is grateful for the resources available in the community, including Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Summer Meal Program, which LaChrista’s kids participate in at DeKalb First United Methodist Church when the school year ends. “My kids get the free lunch program during the school year, but it is a big difference when they are out of school in the summer,” LaChrista said, noting it’s difficult to provide the additional meals. “So we go have lunch every day at the church. They offer it Monday through Friday.”
Between the food pantries and the Summer Meal Program, LaChrista is able to find a degree of comfort.
“It can definitely be hard to make ends met,” she said. “It helps give you peace of mind knowing these programs are here.”
The following comes from the Feeding America blog:
Healthy bodies and minds require nutritious meals at every age. But when people don’t have enough food or have to choose inexpensive foods with low-nutritional value, it can seriously impact their health. And once the cycle of poor diet and poor health begins, it can be hard to break.
Put simply, hunger’s toll can be life-altering.
When someone is sick, having to choose between food and treatment can lead to serious complications. For example, for food-insecure adults living with diabetes, the choice between food and controlling the disease can even lead to complications like kidney disease, eye disease and nerve damage.
Family members in food-insecure households are also more likely to struggle with psychological and behavioral health issues. And kids struggling to get enough to eat are more likely to have problems in school and other social situations.
Watch the video below to learn how hunger can affect the daily lives of 1 in 8 Americans: