We talk about parents role modeling healthy eating. What does this look like in food insecure families? What cooking techniques are modeled? What food items are on the weekly grocery list? What habits are established?Cooking techniques may include microwaving processed items for lack of cooking equipment or knowledge. Standard food items may include processed or canned and shelf stable items from food pantries. Eating habits are formed in children by what, where, when and how they eat.
WHAT: Ideally, it is whole foods, cooked in a healthy way but it may be high sodium veggies, little fresh produce, high fat meats and powdered drink mix.WHERE: Ideally, it is seated around a dinner table, but it may be on a hotel bed, in the car, or on TV trays in front of, inevitably, the TV.
WHEN: Ideally, it is 3 balanced meals with healthy snacks in between but it may be catch as catch can between shifts, daycare, and being latch key kids. Food insecurity may also be worse at the end of the month, as aid runs out.Awareness of the problem is a good thing. The overweight child you see may not be that way because they are lazy, sedentary or pigging out on junk food after school. They may be that way for many reasons, some of which include lack of access to healthy food.
How can low income families eat healthier? Start with a healthy, balanced, free or reduced price breakfast and lunch for children in school.