Wanda Perez considers the price and nutritional value of everything she puts in her shopping cart, as the New Haven woman relies on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to buy groceries and is trying to eat healthy to manage multiple chronic illnesses. Just over 364,000 people receive SNAP benefits in the state, a number that has decreased about 4.7% in the past year. “I try to stay on top of everything that’s going on,” said Perez, a member of Witness To Hunger, which organizes SNAP users to speak about food policy and poverty. Perez lives on just over $700 in disability assistance a month, plus $192 in SNAP. Though her SNAP benefits are safe for now, proposed federal rule changes could push other Connecticut users off SNAP.
Connecticut doctors and health care workers are battling childhood obesity by helping low-income families make healthier food choices, and coaching busy parents on fast but healthy ways to feed their children. Children are more likely to be obese if they grow up in low-income families, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. And when parents work long hours at low-wage jobs, that can contribute to childhood obesity as well, according to health experts, because time-squeezed parents struggle to provide home-cooked meals and family activities. Colleen Shaddox explores how teens in New Britain learn how to make healthy food choices. The CDC defines obesity as “having excess body fat,” and says it is affected by genetic, behavioral and environmental factors.
Do not pity the lowly white potato, for it has friends in high places. Late last year, Congress decided to add white potatoes to the list of foods that can be purchased with government-subsidized vouchers used by participants in WIC — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The addition was part of the behemoth 1,600-page “cromnibus,” and it was a shocking example of Congress defying science and writing its own menu. White potatoes already figure heavily in the diets of low-income families, because potatoes are relatively inexpensive and usually come already prepared — albeit in the most unhealthy way imaginable. Since it was created more than 40 years ago, the WIC program has been one of this country’s most successful anti-poverty, pro-health programs. WIC gives federal grants to states for food, nutrition education and health care referrals for low-income mothers and children younger than age 5.
US Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro today introduced legislation to guarantee that contaminated meat, poultry and egg products are taken off the market. The 3rd District Democrat said that the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has failed to recall some tainted food because it claims it doesn’t have the authority to do so under current law. “We need federal agencies that will protect public health, not bend to the threats of deep-pocketed food producers seeking to escape regulation,” DeLauro said, in a statement with Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, a New York Democrat, who is the bill’s co-sponsor. They pointed out that the USDA failed to recall chicken produced by California-based Foster Farms, despite a salmonella outbreak over the past year that got more than 600 people sick and resulted in some 240 hospitalizations. This is double the amount of hospitalizations in a typical salmonella outbreak, according to DeLauro, a member of the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee.
Kylee Mowel gladly makes the 15-mile trip from Middletown to New Britain each week to pick up locally grown organic produce from Urban Oaks Organic Farm. The farm’s store offers fresh greens year round, plus a variety of seasonal produce, meat, eggs, bakery and specialty foods produced in the region. By buying local and choosing organic, Mowel, 27, said she can avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in her food. Her choice reflects a growing cultural shift toward healthier eating habits that support sustainable agriculture. “Ten years ago we had a hard time selling greens.