It’s Time to ACT Now!
When I moved from the Midwest to Baltimore, MD I was excited to be in a new place and to see what the East Coast had to offer. One thing that surprised me was the lack of supermarkets and grocers available where I lived. There were only a few sprinkled throughout the city. Instead, I found a number of corner stores, fast food restaurants and small markets that offered minimal healthy food options. Finding an affordable supermarket in walking distance of my residence was more difficult than not in the city.
Like Baltimore, many low income, communities of color and rural areas do not have access to healthy food. One of the many reasons why childhood obesity epidemic continues to soar is because of the limited options of healthy food options. Food environments with limited access are saturated with foods high in calories, sugars and fats. Creating healthy spaces where we “eat, work and play” is critical to reversing these alarming childhood obesity rates.
Each day improvements are being made to chip away at the increase of childhood obesity. Communities are beginning to engage in large-scale urban agriculture, use available spaces to grow their own foods, set up farmers markets and work with decision-makers to address issues such as: transportation, zoning, school-based policies and the food environment. Additionally, states are providing vouchers through Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program to increase the availability and access to farmers markets and fresh foods. These are great steps in the right direction toward health living and economic development; but more work needs to be done.
As part of this movement to address the food environment, the NAACP is committed to ending childhood obesity and eliminating health disparities that disproportionately impact communities of color. The Association is engaging in advocacy, community mobilization & education, and training (ACT) to equip our chapters and partners to make positive change in their communities. Addressing childhood obesity and our surrounding environment requires a collaborative effort. Despite the challenges that communities of color may face, they still have the power to make significant change.
To join us in this movement, I encourage you to engage with our local NAACP branches, become knowledgeable about the food and built environment, and stay connected with MomsRising. If we want to see our children and future generations live in a healthy and safe environment, it is important to ACT now and eliminate childhood obesity.
Jennifer White is Program Specialist of Health Programs at the NAACP in Baltimore, MD.