Eat healthy! The same message is repeated again and again, from doctors to public health commercials. However, if one really looks at what’s involved, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that eating healthy is darn expensive and not financially easy, especially when taking care of a family and bills at the same time.
No surprise poor nutrition and tight budgets go hand in hand, many times because bad food seems cheaper and easier to budget than wholesome food and related preparation. Unfortunately, the costs of bad food add up over time.
These are seen in obesity, digestion problems, higher blood pressure, cholesterol build up and lower immunity defenses to sickness. Eventually these issues turn into chronic health problems and less ability to function normally.
Fortunately, there are resources available for help. One just has to reach out and utilize them. Good nutrition is not just emphasized, it’s actually supported financially, even by the government. Here’s how:
SNAP – Every medium to large community has what is known as a SNAP program. SNAP is an acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It was formerly well known as food stamps.
In short, SNAP is a food purchase assistance program that provides needy families the ability to buy fruit, bread, vegetables, cereal, milk, and meats with a purchase tool. It used to be vouchers, ergo the “stamp” reference, but now recipients get a special debit card which is reloaded monthly with spending power.
One just needs to apply and be within a specific income level to be eligible as a family. Most county governments administer the program, but it is funded by the federal government.
The Local Farmers’ Market – The thing about grocery stores and restaurants is that every price point, no matter what it is for, is marked up to account for the expense of harvesting, packing, shipping distributing and retailing that food product.
Farm produced food sold direct to the consumer, however, only bears the cost of harvesting from the farmer himself. That means the same vegetables, fruits and dairy product can be bought for less, and the food is fresher being direct from the farm that day.
It only makes sense financially to take advantage of farmers’ markets when and where possible. And multiple states allow double value of support when consumers buy food from farmers. So $10 in SNAP benefits can buy $20 worth of food!
Women, Infants and Children Program – Every major area also provides for another federal program known as WIC. This subsidy support is designed to ensure bread, dairy products, protein and vegetable food products are available to mothers with infants and young children.
Families are clearly eligible to benefit from this benefit if they meet the same income requirements for assistance as other help programs. And WIC can be major source of support for new mothers who need a reliable supply for formula for infants.
Public School Food Programs – Children don’t need to go hungry at lunch if attending a public school. Specifically targeting low income families for help, federal programs are in place to ensure affected children have a school lunch as well as an after school snack and dinner if needed.
And these programs also have a summer extension, so parents who are trying to work and make ends meet don’t have to worry about their kids going without a meal in the middle of the day.
Grow a Garden – One of the oldest ways of producing food consistently, personal farming has been used time and again to augment home food supply with fruits and vegetables.
And they are fresh being grown right at home. So if one has some space or backyard, take advantage of it and start a personal farm. It’s not just food; farming also provided learning and education about how food grows and what it takes to produce.