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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Hungry in America

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Most of us don't think about if we will have food for dinner tonight. Instead, we dream about what we might make or which restaurant we will go to. Unfortunately for many people, they rely on assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Last year, 11.9 million people went hungry in the US. That included nearly 700,000 children, up more than 50 percent from the year before. It is estimated that this year the number may rise as high as 30 million people going hungry.

No more food stamps
You will be dating yourself if you refer to government food assistance as food stamps. The new name is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the stamps have been replaced with electronic benefit cards. The new farm bill passed earlier this year which allows families on SNAP benefits to purchase more healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In fact, there is a new provision to the bill that allows for a pilot program which offers bonus credits on their card when they purchase fruits and vegetables. They are even going to establish the ability of SNAP card users to use their cards at farmers markets!

Kids DO eat fruits and vegetables
The farm bill also allows for expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program which provides free fresh fruits and veggies to children at schools. It was started in 2002 in just a few states, but it was enormously successful so now it will reach all 50 states. Within 5 years the program will serve as many as 3 million elementary school children.

These are just a few of the things the government is doing to try to encourage healthier eating.

As we continue through these tough economic times, remember that a sacrifice of not buying a new sweater could translate into numerous hot meals for someone going hungry. Support your local food banks. If you can't donate money, donate your time!
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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