Eating healthy food should not be the preserve of the well-off, according to a new guide aimed at promoting healthier eating in disadvantaged communities.
The guide, compiled by the Healthy Food for All (HFfA) campaign, provides advice on how to set up community food projects including food cooperatives; community cafés, food-growing projects; breakfast and after-school clubs; and community-based training courses in nutrition and healthy eating.
Speaking at the launch of the guide today, Marjo Moonen, Chair of HFfA, said all communities should have access to healthy foods at prices they can afford.
“Research shows the poorer you are, the more likely you are to experience bad health, and food and nutrition are key determinants of health” she said. “We know the greatest obstacles to accessing a healthy diet are shortage of money and the cost of nutritionally adequate food. Community food initiatives aim to address these obstacles. Essentially, they promote good health by making it easier for people to make healthy food choices.”
Supporting local communities to address their food needs is more urgent than ever before, according to HFfA: approximately 15% of the Irish population currently experience some type of food deprivation and, amongst those on low incomes, this figure rises to 35%.
Research shows that two out of three Irish adults are now at an unhealthy weight; one in four is obese; and one in four seven-year-olds is overweight.
“The obesity epidemic currently being experienced here – and throughout the developed world – disproportionately affects the poor and disadvantaged,” said Marjo Moonen. “Low-income households spend a higher proportion of their incomes on food, but have greater difficulties accessing healthy, affordable options.
“The less disposable income families have, the less likely they are to enjoy a healthy diet.”
The guide – ‘A Good Practice Guide for Community Food Initiatives’ – was officially launched today by Pat Carey TD, Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, as part of Social Inclusion Week.
“Improving the consumption of healthy food amongst low-income groups through community food initiatives will bring social and health benefits,” Minister Carey said.
“The guide provides practical, step-by-step information for community groups interested in setting up food projects.”
HFfA’s work on community food initiatives is being supported by celebrity chef Rozanne Stevens, who gave a healthy food cookery demonstration at today’s launch.
‘A Good Practice Guide for Community Food Initiatives’ is available to download from: www.healthyfoodforall.com