Feeding America vows to dedicate greater share to fruits & veggies

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Feeding America vows to dedicate greater share to fruits & veggies

The USA's largest hunger-relief organization Feeding America will work toward making fruits and vegetables nearly half of the food it distributes, through a new collaboration with advocacy group Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA). 

In a release, Feeding America said fresh produce represented around a third of the four billion pounds of food distributed last fiscal year, serving 46 million people from 200 member food banks across the country. 

Aside from its pledge to raise the share of fruits and vegetables, the organization will also work with member food banks and pantries to help make the healthy choice the easiest choice.

"People struggling with food insecurity face the burden of not only getting enough to eat, but also accessing nutrient-rich foods that promote health and help reduce risk of chronic disease," said Feeding America CEO Diana Aviv.

"As a network, we have the opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people throughout our country, and we must seize it. 

"Our partnership with PHA underscores our ongoing commitment to the health of the people who turn to charitable assistance to put food on the table."

Feeding America emphasized the consumption of healthful food could help prevent or mitigate prevalent chronic illnesses such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

According to a study undertaken by the group, more than half of the households helped by food banks have at least one member with high blood pressure while one third have a member with diabetes. 

"People receiving assistance from Feeding America's network of food banks rely on them to ensure their families get the nutrition they need," said PHA CEO Larry Soler.

"We are proud to partner with this vital organization to ensure that when our friends and neighbors find themselves vulnerable to food insecurity, the food banks and pantries they turn to provide the kind of nourishment – including fresh fruits and vegetables – that contributes to their health and wellness," Soler said.

School meals took center stage at PHA event

Feeding America made the pledge at the PHA's 'Building a Healthier Future Summit' last week, where former First Lady Michelle Obama slammed the current administration for loosening nutrition requirements in school meals. 

On May 1, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced exemptions would be given to schools that found it difficult to make 100% of their grain products whole grains, while schools would also be allowed to serve 1% flavored milk and a longer timeframe for meeting salt reduction targets. 

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue eats with students at Catoctin Elementary School, Virginia.

"I’ve got 14 grandchildren, and there is no way that I would propose something if I didn’t think it was good, healthful, and the right thing to do," Perdue said.

"And here’s the thing about local control: it means that this new flexibility will give schools and states the option of doing what we’re laying out here today. These are not mandates on schools."

Obama did not see it this way however.

"You have to stop and think, why don’t you want our kids to have good food in school? What is wrong with you? And why is that a partisan issue?" she said.

"Think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap. Why would you celebrate that? Why would you sit idly and be okay with that? Because here’s the secret – if somebody is doing that  they don’t care about your kid."

The former First Lady helped found the PHA, which includes representatives of some of the country's leading produce companies in its executive committee including Wonderful Citrus, Fresh Del Monte, Sun-Maid Growers of California, Dole Food Company, Sunkist Growers, Sun Pacific, Oppy and Monsanto.

Headline photo: www.shutterstock.com






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