good food derived from a resilient and just food system is critical to a healthy, robust community. The food system includes all food–related activities involving the production, processing, transport, and consumption of food. Programs, policies and advocacy efforts that impact some or all of these elements can contribute to a better—or worse—food system. A systems approach provides a framework in which to identify and understand levers for action that can improve healthy food access for all and ensure equity across the system for those that produce, those that distribute, and those that consume food.
In this country, many leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, are diet-related; more than one-third of American adults and 17 percent of children are obese and highly vulnerable to early-onset chronic disease. The cost in hardship, years of potential life lost, medical cost, and lost productivity represent billions of dollars to society each year. Communities challenged by poverty and high unemployment rates are vulnerable to higher rates of diet-related illnesses and the costs are even more devastating. In high poverty communities, hunger and food insecurity are an additional health risk. And, when poor access to healthy food options combine with limited household income, many families struggle to put enough good food on their tables to ensure a healthy and productive life.
These impacts of poor access to healthy food are multi-dimensional in both their causes and their solutions. Policy and program interventions, using a systems approach, can improve the performance of food systems and help create resilience and capacity to supply nutritious food to all. Using a system approach provides many opportunities for increased equity, good health, and robust local economies. Our food system is a major economic driver, representing millions of jobs and thousands of businesses. Investment in all the system levers will generate jobs and economic growth, helping to boost families’ incomes and access to food. Consumer education to increase nutrition and food system knowledge can promote healthier food choices and diets.
Households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (17%), especially households with children headed by single women (30%) or single men (22%), Black non-Hispanic households (22%) and Hispanic households (19%).
(many statistics from End Hunger Connecticut!):
In a 2012 assessment of state food insecurity by the University of Connecticut, Hartford was most at risk among the 169 Connecticut towns.
In Hartford, 100 percent of students are eligible for free school meals, but far fewer students participate in school breakfast. Connecticut is last in the nation for percentage of schools with a school breakfast program.
Federal food assistance programs are underfunded and in some cases they are underutilized because of access and enrollment issues. Only 53 percent of the eligible working poor participate in the SNAP program.
Hartford Food System was founded in 1978. Since then, we have been dedicated to finding long-term solutions for access to affordable and healthy food in our home city of Hartford.
1 Congress Street, Suite 302
Hartford, CT 06114