Elmont, NY - August 31, 2016 - Persistent food insecurity, coupled with the lack of access to healthy, nutritious food, is a leading cause of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and other chronic health problems among low-income individuals, including children. Nationally respected organizations, including the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, and Feeding America, a leading, national anti-hunger organization, state a definitive link between health and hunger.
Feeding America’s Hunger in America 2014 study found that 21 percent of Long Island households served by local food banks reported at least one member with diabetes, and 50 percent reported having a member with high blood pressure. Two-thirds of food-insecure families have reported choosing between paying for food, and paying for medicine or health care.
To help address the correlation between hunger and poor health, the American Heart Association’s Long Island Board of Directors funded a pilot program this summer to supply healthy groceries for low-income families of children participating in Island Harvest Food Bank’s Summer Food Service Program at Long Island FQHC, Inc., Family Health Centers in Elmont and New Cassel. The $10,000 grant was used to supply families with more than 8,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain bread and cereals, lean meats and other lean proteins, low-fat dairy items, and other healthful foods. The program began on June 27, and ends on September 2.
“Hunger has insidious, long-term, adverse health effects, especially among people in low-income communities,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. “The generous support from the American Heart Association’s Long Island Board of Directors, and the partnership with Long Island FQHC, has provided access to healthy food, as well as educational resources on the benefits of healthy eating, which will help control and, hopefully, prevent, the onset of diabetes and other chronic health problems related to food insecurity.”
The pilot program is consistent with Island Harvest Food Bank’s goal of putting healthier foods on the tables of the approximately 316,000 Long Islanders identified as food-insecure. Island Harvest Food Bank offers educational resources to promote healthy lifestyles among the low-income individuals and families accessing the feeding programs it serves. It conducts educational programs under the direction of a registered dietician, who provides guidance on selecting and preparing healthy foods on a limited budget.
“The American Heart Association’s Long Island Board of Directors is proud to be able to make this personal gift to the underserved communities on Long Island, to provide access to healthier food choices,” said Wayne Nowland, Chairman of the American Heart Association’s Long Island Board of Directors. “The mission of the American Heart Association is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and I believe this program is helping to do that.”
The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, the organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters. The American Heart Association funds innovative research, fights for stronger public-health policies, and provides critical tools and information to save and improve lives. Its nationwide organization includes 156 local offices, and more than 3,000 employees. The American Heart Association Long Island is located in Plainview.
“Long Island FQHC Inc. is proud to partner with Island Harvest Food Bank and the America Heart Association in distributing summer meals to our pediatric patients and their families, thanks to a generous grant from the American Heart Association,” said Julie Harnisher, Vice President, Long Island FQHC, Inc.
“Research has shown that food insecurities are linked to health problems. Children with food insecurities are more likely to be at risk for chronic health conditions, such as asthma, may have more frequent oral health problems, and may require more hospitalizations. The mission of the LIFQHC is to increase access to comprehensive primary and preventive health care and to improve the health status of the community. We are proud to give back to our community and look forward to a long and continuous partnership.”
About Hunger on Long Island
Hunger is a state in which people do not get enough food to provide the nutrients for active and healthy lives. It can result from the recurrent lack of access to food. More than 316,000 Long Islanders face the risk of hunger every day, according to Island Harvest Food Bank and Feeding America, a national hunger-relief organization. Those facing hunger include adults (often working two jobs), seniors and veterans. Unable to make ends meet, they (and their children) are often forced to go without food. Approximately 70,000 individuals seek food assistance in Nassau and Suffolk counties each week through soup kitchens, food pantries and other feeding programs served by Island Harvest Food Bank.
About Island Harvest Food Bank
Island Harvest Food Bank is a leading hunger-relief organization that provides food and other resources to people in need. Always treating those it helps with dignity and respect, its goal is to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island through efficient food collection and distribution; enhanced hunger-awareness and nutrition-education programs; job training; and direct services targeted at children, senior citizens, veterans and others at risk. pproximately96 cents of every dollar donated to Island Harvest Food Bank goes to programs that support more than 316,000 Long Islanders. Island Harvest Food Bank is a lead agency in the region’s emergency-response preparedness for food and product distribution, and is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. More information can be found at www.islandharvest.org.