“McDonald’s is delicious and good for you because they give you apples. I’d eat it every night for dinner” said six year-old Michael Bass as he and his mother waited for the 26 bus on the 1900 block of Olney.
Bass is one of the many African American children in the community who suffers from obesity due to limited access to healthier food options.
While many students are finishing up the semester and packing up to gear for summer, Exploring Nutrition’s LGU students push towards helping children like Bass by providing better produce for local stores in the community.
Research conducted by the Community Health Database suggests that only 10 percent of whites in the Olney area of Philadelphia are obese, while 40 percent of African Americans and Latinos suffer from being overweight.
“I try to feed him fruits and vegetables, but it seems that the fresher the food the more expensive it is. I just cannot afford it” says Pamela Bass, mother of little Michael.
According to recent city data, the median household income for those residing in the Olney-Germantown area of Philadelphia lists below state average with families pulling in only $27,490 a year. With residents in the Lasallian community making an estimate of $20,000 less than others in Pennsylvania, many families resort to eating foods high in fat for survival.
Dr. Edie Goldbacher from Department of Psychology at La Salle University says one’s environment also contributes to obesity patterns found in low-income communities.
“Social factors play a role. If you go out with a certain group of friends you may be more like to eat or drive a certain thing because you behavior is influenced by the people around you,” said Goldbacher.
With numbers in obesity soaring at an all-time high around American, the LGU students have teamed up with Fresh Grocer and local religious institutions to collectively work together to establish nutritious food options for families who simply cannot afford the high cost that comes along with eating healthy.
Recently, both organizations in the community partnered to kick off La Salle’s annual food drive. Students and community leaders from all over packaged and shipped fresh produce for religious institutions to distribute throughout the community.
“Our company strongly believes in outreaching to the community as much as we can, connecting with varies organizations, and donating whether it be time or food to help out the people in need,” said Tom Hepp, store director for the Fresh Grocer at La Salle University.
Religious institutions like Canaan Baptist Church, Hosley Temple, and Mount Air Church of God in Christ were among the many religious institutions to help in distributing some of the produce to families in need.
“Wow, it is just so nice to finally get a break from the expensive prices found in grocery stores” said Tameka Harris, a local member of the community.
With over 3,600b pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, Exploring Nutrition fed over 2,000 families and raised $5,000 through contributions and various fundraisers.
The Spring Food Drive is just one of the many ways in which La Salle’s Exploring Nutrition Program gives back to the community.
This organization work together to not only distribute food and resources to low-income communities, but also educates families on how to eat healthy while on a budget in hopes to decrease food insufficiency in urban areas.
So far, the program has conducted projects like the Easter food drive, mommy and me nutrition classes, Adolescent cooking program, community health fairs, and many others to help the community.
Although the program has drastically improved within such a short time span, this community still faces many issues regarding health and nutrition.
The program’s ultimately goal is to create a model that engages all sectors of civic society in addressing the particular problem centering around hunger in the community.
In order to accomplish this goal, Exploring Nutrition continues to address issues by continuing to partner up with local organizations and religious institutions in the community.
““Churches and mosque are the stable institutions for the community. They know what this community needs most,” said Allen.
Here is a video of the program working with organization throughout the Philadelphia area to increase health awareness in the community.