Parents struggling to make ends meet often have agonizing decisions to make when it comes to their children’s health and their own well being: do I buy food or medicine?
The consequences of choosing one necessity over the other are equally troubling, but one thing is certain: poor nutrition affects a person’s health today and long into the future.
Among the challenges of hunger:
- Inability to fight disease because of an impaired immune system
- Lower growth and childhood development
- Gum and mouth disease (it’s tough to eat nutritious foods like carrots and fruit if your teeth and gums hurt or to get a job because of the way you look from tooth loss).
The third of five informational videos in the #ImagineaSolution hunger awareness campaign, to be released this week at www.azcaa.org and www.azfoodbanks.org, addresses the affect of nutrition on an individual’s overall health and asks the public to help develop solutions to this serious problem in communities across Arizona.
“As it is, three of every four adults don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables every day,” said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks.
“We’re also seeing increased levels of high blood pressure and diabetes among the clients we serve. When it comes to children, hunger and lack of nutrition also affect their ability to learn and even stay awake in school. As a community, we must come together to find ways to combat the problem.”
Cynthia Zwick, executive director of the Arizona Community Action Association, and co-producer of the video campaign with the AAFB, said that “the quality of nutrition also can have a significant impact on reducing healthcare costs. Unfortunately, people are often very sick by the time they even get to a doctor. Poor nutrition can lead to preventable conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Currently, we spend tens of billions of dollars on healthcare costs every year linked to those illnesses as well as many others.”
The video features comments and information from pediatrician Dr. Cody Conklin; Kris Volcheck, DDS, MBA, executive director of the CASS Dental Clinic for the Homeless and The Parsons Center for Pediatric Dentistry at Murphy; and Jennifer Kaufman, vice president of marketing for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
The videos are designed to “stimulate a very serious statewide conversation about how we can solve the problem of hunger, and address the bigger-picture challenge of poverty, as individuals and communities,” Ms. Zwick said.
The fourth video, to be released in the spring, will focus on hunger’s impact on the economy. The final video describes the SNAP program (formerly food stamps), a critical lifeline for families to help put food on the table as well as “‘demythifying’ misperceptions about SNAP, which serves more than 1 million Arizonans efficiently and cost effectively,” Ms. Zwick said.
The campaign also features a series of photos and quotes collected during “man-on-the-street” interviews asking people around the state their thoughts on solving hunger and how they “#ImagineaSolution.”
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