Giving Kids a Place at the Table

How much does your family spend on groceries? Could you live on $3 a person each day?

For many Americans, that’s what you might spend on a coffee. But, for the nearly 50 million Americans on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, $3 a day is all they have for food. Yes, in the wealthiest country in the world, this is the reality.

According to the Participant Media’s compelling new documentary, “A Place at the Table,” the picture in America is grim:

One in five families with children is food insecure (which means they expect to run out of food before they get more money or food stamps). One out of every two children will be on food assistance at some point in their life.

The U.S. ranks worst on food security among advanced economy countries. And, it’s not that there’s insufficient food. It’s poverty and politics. A combination leading to outrageous injustice and health effects in our most precious resource: our children. And, it’s not just that our children are needlessly hungry, it’s a driving cause of our obesity epidemic.

How does hunger lead to obesity? I agree it appears a paradox. But, due to our twisted Farm Bill, more tax subsidies are going to agribusiness for basic ingredients for processed foods (wheat, soy, corn) than to farmers who grow whole, healthy foods like apples and carrots. Less than one percent of our Farm Bill investment goes to vegetables and fruits combined. This irrational corporate welfare has lead to fruit and vegetable prices increasing 40% since 1980 and processed foods decreasing 40%. Chips are cheaper than fruit.

So, if you have $3 a day for meals, you’re likely buying fast food, soda, chips, and other (subsidized) empty calories. Empty calories that lead to malnutrition and obesity. These kids are overfed, undernourished, and hungry. And today 2/3 of of middle school and high school students in the US already have middle age health problems — related to what they eat.

We can do so much better.

We almost eliminated hunger in the 1970’s. We can do it again.

I’m proud to be the pediatric advisor for Plum Organics. Together we created a Super Smoothie specifically designed to be donated to food insecure babies and toddlers in the U.S. The Super Smoothie tastes great and is packed with accessible super foods including spinach, carrots, apples, white beans, and whole grain oats, providing a nutritionally dense, produce-based alternative to the white flour, sugar, sodium, and fat filled foods most commonly found in a food insecure diet. Plum has committed to donate at least 500,000 of these smoothies in 2013.

We’re asking all of you to get involved by using your personal social platforms to raise awareness about the food insecurity issue in an effort to galvanize industry leaders, policy makers, and society into action. Starting April 10th, you can get involved by visiting PlumOrganics.com/TheFullEffect to receive locally-specific messages for use on Twitter and Facebook powered by Participant’s social action platform, Take Your Place. And watch or read A Place at the Table. You’ll be glad you did. And Plum will donate a smoothie for every movie download or book purchased.

Please help us make a place at the table for every American.

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Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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