Why Hunger is a Health Issue
Jessyca Stoepker | August 8, 2019
Physicians, healthcare providers, and a growing number of other professionals have come to recognize hunger as a health issue. This is because many factors outside of genetics or medical care contribute to a person’s well-being–including social, economic, physical, or other conditions related to our surrounding environments.
Poverty, for example, involves a person’s economic status. That means it directly affects what a person spends their money on. Fresh veggies for the week, or a utility bill? Snacks for the kids, or a car payment?
Between low-paying jobs and caring for kids, many turn to cheap grab-and-go meals that are full of saturated fats, sodium, and sugar. But these “convenience” foods–cheeseburger dinners, gas station burritos, breakfast sandwiches from fast food chains–are hardly convenient in the long run.
A multitude of studies have shown that regular consumption of these foods may lead to chronic diseases like type II diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and even arthritis. Obesity may also arise, often happening when food deprivation is followed by overeating when food is finally available.
Here’s an excerpt from a Food Research & Action Center publication that goes into further detail:
“Food-insecure and low-income people can be especially vulnerable to poor nutrition and obesity, due to additional risk factors associated with inadequate household resources as well as under-resourced communities. This might include lack of access to healthy and affordable foods; cycles of food deprivation and overeating; high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression; fewer opportunities for physical activity; greater exposure to marketing of obesity-promoting products; and limited access to health care. In addition to these unique challenges, those who are food insecure or low income are subject to the same and often challenging cultural changes (e.g., more sedentary lifestyles, increased portion sizes) as other Americans in trying to adopt and maintain healthful behaviors.” (Source: Food Research & Action Center, December 2017)
Unfortunately, these poor health outcomes pose challenges for families in the long run. Now in addition to all existing expenses, they must pay for medical treatments, emergency room visits, and prescriptions. I think we all can relate to how difficult that can be. And even beyond the personal consequences for individuals and families, there are costly implications for our economy and healthcare system as a whole.
Fortunately, that is why Manna exists: to provide food to those in need. We provide support when families need it most and we encourage our clients to utilize government food programs like SNAP, WIC, and Double Up Food Bucks for produce incentives at farmer’s markets. Programs such as these help reduce food insecurity, alleviate poverty, and improve community health, and we are proud to be part of these solutions.
Manna’s newest partnership will excite your inner “foodie”
Jessyca Stoepker | May 7, 2019
Northern Michigan’s food and drink scene is something to marvel at. From wine trails and breweries, to coffee and specialty shops, Petoskey draws thousands of visitors each year to savor the best.
If you’re a Northern Michigan “foodie,” there’s a good chance you stock your cupboard with Fustini’s oils or have enjoyed meals at local restaurants dressed with Fustini’s vinegars. They have a full decade of history in downtown Petoskey, providing high-quality culinary ingredients.
Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars has flourished in our region because of their nutritious products, commitment to artisanal craft, and unwavering dedication to their community. That dedication can be seen in founder Jim Milligan’s decision to give back in a big way—to share the 10th anniversary of their Petoskey store with Manna.
In celebration of “One Delicious Decade,” Fustini’s is donating $1 for every bottle purchased this summer to Manna, starting May 8 and lasting until September 15. They also have plans to partner with us in other ways, like donating bottles of olive oil for our pantry clients.
Now, I’ll be honest: before Fustini’s approached Manna, I had never purchased “craft” oil or vinegar. On the rare occasion I spent time making a nice dinner for myself, I used off-brand products (or even skipped those ingredients altogether), thinking that they wouldn’t add much to the dish.
How wrong I was! My first visit to Fustini’s changed my mind—and now I realize with dismay that I could have been enjoying my own cooking a whole lot more.
After sampling vinegar after vinegar—peach, lavender, cinnamon pear, avocado, black truffle, pomegranate, Sicilian lemon—I found my favorite. Never in a hundred years would I have thought to buy a bottle of coconut balsamic vinegar, but that’s the one I left with!
And I didn’t have to feel guilty about it, either. Vinegars are naturally low in calories, while oils are high in antioxidants, and both provide other essential nutrients for a healthy diet. As a health-conscious person, knowing the nutrition benefits made me even happier with my purchase.
During my visit, Charlene, Petoskey’s store manager, proudly showed me the kitchen area, where their chefs conduct hands-on cooking classes and demonstrations. Check out their website at www.fustinis.com for a class that intrigues you. On the third Tuesday of the month, Fustini’s also hosts “Cooking for a Cause,” where a portion of the class fees supports a local charity.
This summer, I plan to take advantage of the $1 per bottle fundraiser. And, since the store is located on Howard Street just a short walk from where I live, I have no doubt that I’ll find a few other favorites before the season’s over.
Ten Years of Generosity
Petoskey United Methodist Church’s vegetable garden changes lives of those in need
Jessyca Stoepker | September 2018
As the heat of the day subsides and the sun begins to sink behind the trees, the serenity of the Petoskey United Methodist Church’s community vegetable garden can fully be grasped. The curious music of the drums and horns of the high school marching band down the hill makes for a unique setting as volunteers move through the planted rows.
The project was first initiated ten years ago by Charles Johnson, Emmet County Circuit Court Judge. The garden was meant to hit three birds with one stone: to engage church members, to provide fulfilling community service opportunities, and to supply fresh produce directly to Manna. On Monday evenings, the group gathers to harvest sugar snap peas, green beans, cabbage, squash, tomatoes, and other vegetables for Manna to provide to their pantry clients the next morning.
The process begins in March when the leaders get together and diagram it all out—from the beets to the greens—according to the size of rotating plots. Then they go to work. After seeding, they stick to a spraying and fertilization schedule. The organizers are thankful for Bill McMaster and Gruler’s Farm Supply, who have generously donated the seeds every year.
The garden with humble beginnings has turned into an organized group of individuals and groups from within the community, led each year by designated individuals. Jackie Rowe and Carla Weiskoph were the gardeners “in charge” this year.
While Carla is finishing up her first year in the garden, veteran gardener Jackie already regards her as an excellent resource for the other workers. Carla explained it was a combination of fate and a love of gardening that brought her here. “I have always enjoyed having my hands in the earth,” she said. During our conversation she often turned to direct other gardeners about what to harvest.
Judge Johnson estimates that the garden has donated about 25,000 pounds of produce to Manna Food Project over the last decade. Their large harvest is impressive, and the importance of what they provide to the community is never forgotten. “The fresh stuff is where it really counts,” Carla said.
It’s also a great opportunity to get back to nature and to meet new people. “I encourage anyone who’s got some land and some water to plant a garden,” Jackie adds.
The end of the season is usually sometime in late September or early October. The garden is open for anyone to come, learn, and make a difference.
Manna Food Project sincerely thanks the Petoskey United Methodist Church and all garden volunteers for their generous donations over the past 10 years, and we look forward to continuing our partnership to feed the hungry.