My blog this week was written by Allison Jacques, one of our Head Start/WIC Nutritionists. – Aimee Mitchell, Senior Vice President Programs & Operations/Head Start Director
Head Start/WIC Nutritionist
I wanted to share about a topic I have personally been extremely passionate about. I believe that a large part of advocating for those who are in need, for those we serve, is providing education and increasing knowledge across the general population within our local communities.
Advocating for improved access and enrollment to public nutrition programs and closing gaps in program enrollment is an area of work I believe to be so important. The viability of many of these programs relies primarily on government/federal funding. I watch many parents strive to do better for their families (be it multiple jobs or increased work hours) cut from programs that they still need. It is important to realize that many of these parents – burdened by stress and heavy work hours – are still at times unable to adequately provide. This often means that as one strives to improve quality of life it may mean a lack of adequate support. Many families will continue to hover at or just above the federal poverty line and remain in great need.
It is essential to educate our local communities and government leaders in order to facilitate change in policies and organize appropriate resources. Additionally, it is vital to recognize that when we aspire for change on a global scale that we must first look for opportunities to be active in our local communities and to advocate for change.
Countless studies indicate the detrimental effects of malnutrition in both early childhood and pregnant/lactating women, some of which are irreversible. Be it cognitive impairment, developmental delays, or increased risk for complications in pregnancy; malnourishment is a concern not just in developing countries but locally in the U.S that often is overlooked. Roughly 1 in 8 families in the U.S. were food insecure in 2016, meaning that the normal pattern of eating at some point within the year was disrupted; whether it be a lack of access, reduced intake or going hungry. Many of these families are unable to adequately provide healthy, nutritious meals on a daily basis.
Generational transmission of poverty is a real concern for many of our families that has long term effects. This pattern of poverty creates a cycle of inadequate education, poor health care, and lack of opportunities.
– Allison Jacques