If there’s one day you know The Cook’s Nook is passionate about, it’s National Food is Medicine Day. Every year on September 14th, many health and food organizations raise awareness about the barriers to healthy food within specific communities nationwide.  

The whole idea behind the day is to generate interest within the private and government sections that finding a solution matters for people in places we may not consider every day.  

Simply put – access to healthy food matters.  

When corporations push unhealthy food into underserved communities, people suffer. Problems like mental health challenges and chronic disease arise, which drive up medical costs. One of the leading calls to action is typically access to insurance for prescription medications, but some health disorders can be treated, or even prevented, by simply giving people in challenged communities access to healthy food.

Deconstructing the Deserts and Swamps  

Stopping food deserts is critical. When there isn’t a healthy food option within a half-mile setting in urban communities or ten miles within a rural setting, that’s considered a food desert. A food swamp occurs when unhealthy options like gas stations and fast food are the only options for something to eat. A newer term has come into the forefront – food apartheid – which offers that the lack of healthy resources is a calculated and racially and economically biased system. 

Healthy food is nutrient-dense; the more we educate people about the relationship between nutrient-dense food and overall wellness, the better diet choices they make. But a major challenge is that this nutritional information is lacking.

Fruits and vegetables occupy more space than boxed and bagged food, which is easier to transport with a car. Those taking public transportation can only grab as much as they can carry. And if the grocery store is far, that’s wear and tear. For someone living in Del Valle, or Creedmoor, getting to Central Austin isn’t easy. If someone is out in Manor, getting to South Austin requires a ride and a lot of bus transfers, taking up much of a day. These social drivers of health may be non-clinical, but absolutely affect health and health outcomes.  

Get Educated About Food is Medicine  

National Food is Medicine Day encourages people to join the movement by helping people get access to healthy food. We believe in the power of food as medicine, and this day helps shed light on the families who aren’t eating the proper meals to keep them healthy against a sea of sugary cereals and frozen foods without any expectation of nutrition or health.  Many health maladies are preventable by eating better, which in turn, lowers health costs.

So between Food As Medicine Day on September 14th and World Sandwich Day on November 23rd, The Cook’s Nook will distribute over 5,500 healthy sandwiches across Austin-Travis County communities where they are most needed. Working with CBO partners, like Keep Austin Fed and El Buen Samaritano, we’ll keep advocating for – and delivering – emergency, short- and long-term nutrition planning that allow people to have a choice and dignity as they drive improved health outcomes.

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