Without access to a healthy diet, those living in food insecure households are vulnerable to diet-related diseases, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Good nutrition is important for good health and is essential to succeeding in school, complementing medicine and battling disease for populations like children and seniors.

Food insecure children are more likely to be in poor health and struggle in school. Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap study shows Louisiana has the highest child food insecurity rate in the nation. In addition, this study shows the importance of charitable food assistance like the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, with 37% of food insecure children in Louisiana living in households that are likely ineligible for SNAP and other federal nutrition programs. Healthy bodies and minds require nutritious meals at every age.

In 2019, Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Johnson Foundation, convened a panel of experts in different fields including, charitable food systems as well as nutrition and food policies, to create recommendations for evidence-based nutrition guidelines. These recommendations were created in order to increase access and promote healthier food choices necessary for an active, healthy lifestyle.

Products are divided into 11 food categories, and within these categories, items are ranked into three tiers labeled “choose often,” “choose sometimes” and “choose rarely.” These tiers are based on saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar nutrient thresholds. The thresholds for each are based on nutrients found in a single serving of food. Our Nutrition Services team is in the process of developing a nutrition ranking system using these guidelines. Each item of food that comes into our warehouse will be ranked based on a nutritional value.

“With Feeding America releasing these guidelines, we are excited at the potential to implement them here at your Food Bank,” stated Jordyn Barlow, Senior Manager of Nutrition Services. “As this is a huge overhaul, it will take some time, but it is a fantastic step in the right direction to highlighting the importance of nutrition regardless of income level.”

Along with implementing a new nutrition ranking system, we currently have programs in place to educate the community on healthy eating habits. Additionally, this summer our Nutrition Services team created Food Bank Fun Bites, a series of videos that show recipes of healthy fun snacks for kids. To view these videos and learn more about our Nutrition Services Initiatives, click here.