March is National Nutrition Month. It’s a month dedicated to talking about the importance of eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. So this month, we want to take the time to discuss the value of good nutrition and the barriers that millions of Americans face in getting the nutrition that they need.
What is National Nutrition Month?
National Nutrition Month was first instituted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and has been an annual, sponsored event ever since. Over the years, it’s grown in popularity and is now widely promoted in both the public and private sectors.
Every year, B2B and B2C companies (and individuals) in the food and nutrition community are encouraged to help raise awareness of our nation’s need for nutritious food. There are all kinds of ways to engage, including email campaigns with tips for healthy cooking, collecting donations for your local food pantry, sharing food facts on social media.
This year, however, we want to draw attention to the critical need for better nutrition.
What is the current state of nutrition in America?
It’s not great.
On November 2, 2021, the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry held a hearing on “The State of Nutrition in America 2021”. Experts from Agriculture, Medicine, Nutrition, and Academia shared research findings that highlight America’s dire need for better nutrition.
Here are just a few findings:
- More Americans are sick than are healthy
- 3 in 4 adult Americans are overweight or obese
- 1 in 10 children ages 2 to 5 are already obese
- 1 in 5 teens have prediabetes
- 1 in 10 Americans doesn’t have enough food to live a healthy, active life due to low income or lack of resources
- Only 6.8% of Americans are metabolically healthy
- For the first time in American history, life expectancies are falling
- 1 in 5 dollars in our economy goes to healthcare spending; 80% of that goes to the treatment of preventable chronic diseases
What’s contributing to such poor nutrition?
There are multiple factors at play. One, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Nutrition Journal, nearly 15% of U.S. households reported food insecurity during the pandemic. They simply couldn’t get the food they needed. This was up from 11% of households prior to COVID.
But other factors, like nutritional inequity, stretch back before the pandemic.
What is nutritional inequity?
Nutritional inequity occurs when a group of people has less opportunity to achieve a nutrition-secure diet. It is typically the result of unjust systems that create a divide between the white majority and racial minority groups. You can see nutritional inequity first-hand in many of our grocery stores.
Browse the aisles of a grocery store in an affluent, predominantly white neighborhood, and you’d likely find a robust selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. You’d probably find an organic section. You might even see healthy snacks promoted on the ends of the aisles.
Browse the aisles of a grocery store in a lower-income, minority neighborhood, and you might experience the opposite. Cheap, processed foods dominate the shelves. Unhealthy food is on sale and you can get more of it for your budget. You might see a tiny fresh produce aisle with limited selection (and higher prices), but it could be hidden in a corner or surrounded by promotions for junk food.
Many people in these communities don’t have the time, money, or necessary transportation to shop elsewhere for their groceries. Putting food on the table – regardless of nutritional value – is challenging.
When communities lack convenient access to nutritious grocery options, they are at greater risk for diet-related chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, stroke, and heart disease. This is a huge problem in America, which can’t be solved overnight. It must be addressed from chain to chain, and store to store.
But we aren’t left without solutions. We can still take measurable steps to improve our nation’s health.
Let’s remove common barriers to nutritious food
If we want to raise consumer health across the U.S., we need to stop making it cheaper and more convenient to buy unhealthy food. Instead, we need to make it easier and more convenient to get fresh, nutritious food.
There are many organizations dedicated to doing just that. Take Hunger Free America for example. They help low-income families increase their grocery budgets by enrolling in government assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
When people have more money to buy food, they gain more flexibility to buy more nutritious food, even if they have to go to a more expensive store to get it.
How Tangelo is becoming part of the solution
At Tangelo, we are working to remove the barriers of tight food budgets, transportation issues, and lack of nutrition education. Here’s how:
By creating and distributing nutritious food benefits
Tangelo food benefits are food deliveries made up of nutritious grocery boxes or medically-tailored meals. They are funded by state agencies, health plans, and community organizations, and distributed to food or nutrition-insecure communities.
We use social risk screening and a Diet ID assessment to help funders identify at-risk members, then work with them to create specific food benefits that meet their needs.
By making it easy to purchase nutritious, SNAP-eligible food
Tangelo’s online, SNAP-approved marketplace makes it easy for people to find delicious SNAP-eligible food (without the distraction of unhealthy, processed food). We offer a wide variety of locally-sourced, healthy foods to fit different cultural experiences, lifestyles, and tastes.
Tangelo users can place orders from their phone and pay with any combination of SNAP, EBT, Debit, or Credit.
By giving more food on the dollar
We created the Tangelo Nutrition Incentive to help people increase their servings of healthy food. When Tangelo users order a grocery box, we reward them with up to 30% more nutritious food for their budget. This helps our users progressively shift towards a nutrition-secure diet.
By offering free home delivery
Millions of Americans live in food deserts where there is little or no access to fresh, good-quality fruits and vegetables. But even in a food oasis, it can still be challenging to make it to the grocery store. We remove transportation limitations by delivering nutritious food to customer doorsteps nationwide. And we never charge a delivery fee, so SNAP users can still take advantage of the offer.
By helping people learn more about the food they eat
Did you know that a diabetic diet is different from a heart-healthy diet, which is different from a kidney-friendly diet? There is so much to be learned about the specific health benefits of food. And the more consumers know, the better equipped they are to improve their diet.
Using the Tangelo app, users can:
- Take a health survey to identify chronic medical conditions or health risks
- Book a 1:1 conversation with a registered dietician
- Read helpful articles with food facts and tips for healthy living
Interested in joining our mission?
If you are a government agency, healthcare company, or community organization looking to improve community health, give us a call. We will work with you to create custom food benefits for your members and give them the opportunity to change their diet and transform their health.
Poor nutrition is everyone’s responsibility. Let’s solve it together.