Poverty and Healthy Eating

I recently came across this online article about the impact of poverty on healthy eating from CookingMatters.org .   What are your thoughts?   https://cookingmatters.org/understand-poverty

Understand Poverty

The challenges and effects of poverty

Poverty is a lack of resources – generally, it is considered a lack of financial resources.  Living in poverty means that people will likely face many tough challenges. These may include:

  • Not having enough money to buy what is needed
  • Having to go without health care
  • Being at risk for hunger
  • Living in unsafe environments
  • Working in low-wage, high-stress jobs
  • Dealing with inadequate or long-distance transportation
  • Limited access to quality education and/or higher education
  • Limited access to appropriate role models
  • Increased stress on relationships
  • Increased risk for generational poverty, where at least two generations experience poverty

In addition, poverty may have the following effects on access to food and nutrition:

  • Uncertain transportation to the supermarket
  • Lack of a nearby supermarket
  • Inability to find or afford fresh and/or nutritious fruits and vegetables
  • Inability to afford enough food
  • Running out of food by the end of the month
  • Lacking the skills to budget or manage food spending
  • Lacking basic kitchen equipment or access to a kitchen

People living in poverty must develop skills and strategies that help them deal with the situation at hand, often favoring immediate solutions over long-term ones.

To better understand the difficulties or struggles a family may face in poverty, try out THIS activity.

Cooking Matters develops resources important to families in poverty

The skills taught in Cooking Matters courses can help families make the most of the resources they have. Cooking Matters supports families in poverty in these ways:

  • Helps participants learn to stretch their food resources through:
    • Meal planning
    • Food budgeting
    • Comparison shopping
  • Helps participants make the most of SNAP/food stamps and WIC resources
  • Teaches practical and useful nutrition information to help participants and their families avoid diet-related diseases
  • Provides a safe space for participants to build healthy relationships and be part of a supportive environment that allows them to discuss issues of poverty without stigma

Strategies for sensitivity with Cooking Matters participants

Keeping in mind the different ways people see the world can help you be more effective in the classroom.  Here are a few key strategies:

  • Find common ground for discussing the benefits of cooking healthy food on a budget for all families, so that participants do not feel targeted because of socioeconomic status  
  • Recognize your own frame of reference and don’t make assumptions based on what you’ve always thought people should know or do
  • Be aware of the challenges low-income families may face in trying to procure enough nutritious food
  • Be sensitive to unique participant backgrounds and experiences
  • Make healthy eating relevant and accessible to participants with a variety of preferences, experiences, and socioeconomic statuses

Ryan Keller

Executive Director


Lack of resources
Developing Skills

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