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Anti-hunger advocates shift focus to nutrition security



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THE WASHINGTON POST – You have probably heard the phrase “food security” to describe constant access to food. However, many health professionals and policy makers find this term inappropriate. Instead, we should focus on “food security”.

This term emphasizes the accessibility, availability, and affordability of foods that promote wellness and prevent or treat disease, rather than just foods that provide calories.

Many experts consider this rethinking to be particularly urgent now as the pandemic has impacted the availability and quality of food for many Americans.

“At the moment, a record number of Americans are living in a state of food and nutrition insecurity, despite the abundance of food production and availability in the United States,” said the chief advisor for Covid-19 at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA.). ) Sara Bleich.

There are an estimated 42 million people who are food insecure, up from 35 million before
the pandemic.

While national food security programs are in place to make it easier for Americans to access safe, nutritious, and enjoyable food, there is a loophole.

The “nutrient-rich” part is often left behind as programs can focus on providing an adequate amount of food or calories rather than making sure the food is nutrient-rich.

For example, a school breakfast program might offer nutritious, high-fiber whole grain bread, cheese, and fruit as a minimun, but many offer juice and a muffin instead. Both meals can contain the same number of calories, but the latter option is loaded with sugar.

Food security and nutrition need to be seen as one issue and not in two separate silos, experts said. “Nutrition and food security have to go together,” said the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University Dariush Mozaffarian. “It has become an artificial dichotomy and we have to get rid of it.”

The definition of “food security” needs to be changed to “food security” at all levels, including government, health care, nonprofit groups, and research and innovation, wrote Mozaffarian in a recent Medical Association article published in the Journal of the American co-authored by Chef José Andrés of World Central Kitchen and Shelia Fleischhacker of Georgetown University.

In the 1960s, government programs were put in place to eradicate hunger by providing adequate calories, and with the creation of school meals and complementary nutrition programs, caloric hunger was largely eradicated in the country in the 1990s, Mozaffarian said.

But as nutritionists drew the link between diet and chronic disease, it became clear that providing calories is not enough to eliminate food insecurity.

“What we’ve learned over the past 25 years is that diet is the single most powerful determinant of health for anyone,” said Mozaffarian. “In the US, we estimate that 45 percent of deaths from heart disease, stroke, or diabetes are due to poor diet.”

Food insecure people are at greatest risk for chronic diseases, which can be exacerbated by racial inequalities in health care. Pale of the USDA said blacks, Latinos and Native Americans, as well as residents of rural and low-income counties, suffer from the biggest gaps in food and nutrition insecurity, an issue exacerbated by the pandemic.

This can be seen in Washington’s own backyard. Capital Area Food Bank’s chief executive Radha Muthiah said there were 400,000 people in the metropolitan area without enough food before the pandemic. In the past year, this number has increased by around 50 percent in some areas.

“In our region there was hunger in every zip code even before the pandemic, but it disproportionately affected people of color, households with women and younger people,” said Muthiah.

Change is coming, slowly. A promising start is the USDA’s shift in focus. “To more effectively promote healthier eating habits and racial justice, the USDA is aiming to reshape the federal food security net so that it focuses not only on food security but also on food security,” said Bleich.

The new guidelines include a 15 percent increase in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which began in January, and a higher amount ($ 35 per month versus $ 9-11) on fruits and vegetables for women and children receive the benefits from the special nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC) launched on June 1.

These increases are due to expire in late September, and a process is underway – via an order from President Biden – to determine future spending on programs like SNAP. The capital region’s food bank has also made changes. “A few years ago we saw the worrying data about the health of the people we care for: almost half had high blood pressure and a quarter had type 2 diabetes,” said Muthiah, adding that the grocery bank was selling soda, sugary products and high-sodium foods.

In the meantime, 84 percent of the food served consists of fresh products and high-fiber, storage-stable products with low sodium and sugar content.

The organization runs many programs that focus on food security, especially for people living in food deserts, areas that are underserved by grocery stores. In these neighborhoods, the Capital Area Food Bank has its Curbside Groceries mobile grocery truck, which provides a full shopping cart of affordable grocery options for customers in DC’s Ward 8 and Prince George’s County. The organization also works with carpooling to offer free transportation to grocery stores.

A “food pharmacy” pilot project is also running at the Tafel. In collaboration with a hospital or other health facility, patients will be screened for food insecurity and a doctor or nurse will write prescriptions for certain foods to promote health. Patients then collect a box of groceries before leaving the facility or have it delivered to their home.

World Central Kitchen, Andrés’ non-profit based in Washington, distributes individually wrapped fresh meals to communities nationwide.

“We don’t just want to deliver empty calories,” said managing director Nate Mook.

Mook explained that the group has a nutrition department that analyzes all of the meals that come out of the kitchen to make sure they have the right balance of vegetables, proteins, and whole grains.

It has provided more than 36 million meals in more than 400 cities. Scientists also have a role to play in eliminating food insecurity.

Seeding the Future, a nonprofit based in Minneapolis, and the Institute of Food Technologists, based in Chicago, have teamed up to host the Seeding the Future Global Food System Challenge, which awards up to $ 1 million annually in new food innovations be awarded.

Projects currently funded include developing freight containers that can grow fresh fruits and vegetables in food deserts and finding ways to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables.

None of these individual programs alone can solve food insecurity, as the cause extends beyond access to grocery stores or fresh vegetables. It encompasses larger inequalities across income, education, and race.

Proponents said it was important to have equitable government policies that included adequate testing and measurement of food security.

Mozaffarian would like nutritional status questions to be included in the USDA Food Insecurity Screening and Measurement Questionnaires, for example.

He also hoped to see a central federal food and nutrition agency to coordinate and harmonize policies over time.

Once this is in place, it would be easier for nonprofits, healthcare professionals, and innovators to work towards a common goal to ensure that enjoyable, nutritious foods are available to all Americans.

This is not a pipe dream; Nutritional measures can have a huge impact. An April study showed that the Healthy, Hunger Free Children Act helped significantly improve the nutritional quality of school lunches across all socio-economic subgroups.

After the law was implemented in 2010, the proportion of school meals classified as “poor nutritional quality” fell from 55.6 percent to 24.4 percent.

Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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