Healthy food consists of whole foods that have a low calorie, fat and sodium content. These include fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit at every meal and snack. Limit your intake of added sugar, which is in many processed food products and a variety of beverages.
The recent end of emergency food stamp allotments approved for the COVID-19 pandemic came at a bad time for a couple of reasons. First, food prices remain at historic highs due to the soaring inflation rate. Second, diet-related medical conditions such as diabetes and obesity are on the rise in the United States, especially among low-income families that depend on food stamps to buy groceries.
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Food stamps, officially recognized as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, are provided to qualifying households to assist with food purchases. Many of these households got extra benefits during the pandemic, but those emergency payments ended at the beginning of March.
When that happened, many SNAP recipients saw their monthly payments fall by $95 or more — making it even more difficult to afford healthy food.
The end of emergency SNAP allotments coincided with a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing that diabetes and obesity are both on the rise. As Health Exec reported, nearly 13,000 patients were included in the study. Collectively, their records showed several cardiovascular risk factors have increased in prevalence over time. For example, hypertension prevalence rose from 9.3% in 2009-2010 to 11.5% in 2017-2020.
Healthier eating can help people avoid these kinds of medical conditions, but too few people who qualify for SNAP either don’t pursue or can’t afford healthier diet options.
As previously reported by GOBankingRates, research has shown a lack of vegetable intake is more prevalent in Americans whose household incomes fall at or below the poverty level. Only 7% of adults at the poverty level are getting enough vegetables, compared to 11.4% for those in the highest household income category.
On a positive note, SNAP recipients in many parts of the country do have access to healthier food and wellness choices than in previous years. Many farmer’s markets around the country accept SNAP, giving beneficiaries access to affordable local and organic fruits and vegetables.
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SNAP recipients can also buy healthy food from companies such as FarmboxRX, which delivers fresh produce to underserved communities and also offers nutritional education and wellness programming. These kinds of services are especially important as millions of SNAP households face smaller monthly payments.
“Dramatic cuts like this to SNAP budgets without alternative safety nets in place for those who have come to rely on these programs will trickle down to hit already overburdened Medicare and Medicaid budgets,” FarmboxRx Founder and CEO Ashley Tyrner said in a statement shared with GOBankingRates.
FarmboxRx’s response to food insecurity is to deliver food boxes heavy on healthy fruits and vegetables, often tailored to specific diets. The boxes include recipes approved by registered dieticians and nutritionists, exercises and games to improve mental health, and tips for eating healthy on a budget. Its wellness program also includes educational seminars and meal prepping guides.
The company is on a mission to help low-income and at-risk households improve their health through what it calls “food as medicine” deliveries, with the ultimate goal of steering families away from severe health problems.
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“With nowhere else for people to turn, we can expect to see an increase in emergency department visits due to low blood glucose incidents, and a further increase in chronic diseases as people turn to less nutritious/more caloric-dense budget-friendly food options to survive,” Tyrner said.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Food Stamps: SNAP Users Can Purchase Healthy Food and More Through FarmboxRx