Going hungry in Iowa

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It's difficult to imagine when you look out at the seas of corn and soybeans that here, in the 'breadbasket' of America we could have people going hungry, but according to a study done at Drake University, the number of Iowans going hungry is on the rise.

According to the study, released last week by the Drake University Agricultural Law Center, more than one out of every 10 households in the state have limited or recurring lack of access to nutritional and safe food.

The study, titled the Hunger in Iowa Report, showed that more Iowans are skipping meals or eating cheaper and less healthy food because of their inability to get nutritional food in a socially acceptable way, as compared with data from reports released in 2001 and 2003.

The author of the reports, Susan Roberts, commented that nationally, the trends show an improvement in the number of households that have access to nutritional and safe foods, while in Iowa, the numbers are getting worse instead of better.

To make matters worse, the reports also indicate a link between lack of access to healthy food with obesity. A trip to any grocery store will prove this theory true. Buying healthy foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, to make nutritious meals nearly always costs more than purchasing pre packaged or fast foods.

The report contained a dozen recommendations to promote a healthful food environment for Iowans, including an increase in community gardens and farmers markets, the development of mobile food pantry programs and the implementation of universal school breakfasts in schools where more than 40 percent of students receive free and reduced-cost meals.

These ideas are all good and will help, but a long term solution that doesn't require the involvement of the government for implementation and continuation of the program must be out there. Depending on the government for healthy food is as unacceptable as having people in Iowa go without it.