Nutrition Should Be Priority in USDA Food Banks (by Brittany Woodard)

Britt1 Introduction:

I really had a concern after working with the food bank with how healthy the food is that is being given to clients. My question is how can the USDA provide healthier food? Through research I found that many people are being affected by the unhealthy foods that are being provided. It would make a huge difference if the elderly or obese population had access to fresh food, rather than boxed and canned. I wanted to write a letter to the senator so that he knew how important it is to


some people’s health to be on a certain diet. The story of the 77-year old lady who couldn’t afford food and had a specific diet really got me to understand how important my question really is. I would hate to be in that position and I would live a much healthier lifestyle knowing I had somewhere to go that could provide me with food I needed to stay on my diet.

My research collection:

“Food Bank May Lead to More Health Problems.” OuRXperience. Bobbi Albano, 1 June 2011.

Web. 10 Mar. 2014.

This article talks about how a son has to take care of his 77 year-old mother who struggles with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. He can only afford $150 on food for the both of them and is struggling to find healthy foods through the food bank. This is a very good source as it talks about someone who is going through being poor as well as having health problems, which is exactly what I am trying to target as being the problem.

“Children from Poor Families Are More Likely to Eat Junk Food, Claim Researchers.” Mail Online.

Associated Newspapers, 23 Aug. 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.

This source talks about how children who grow up with poorer parents are most likely to gain unhealthy habits of eating. They are forced to eat unhealthy items at a young age and it says that within the first few years, this will catch on to the child and they won’t be able to change their eating habits. This is from a popular source and it helps me to know how impactful a parent’s diet is their child’s.

Rich and Poor – the Unequal Struggle.” New Scientist. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014

This article portrayed a different view, but it can be very useful for the information that my question needs. It showed that poor living is associated with stress which is associated with heart disease. It really makes a good point that low social status can mean a high level of stress, and that this affects their children as well. Birth defects and deaths are at a higher risk when being born from someone with malnutrition. This can affect the baby even if the mother is eating but not eating the correct foods to provide key nutrients to their womb.

The Public Writing

Dear senator,

I am writing to you to present a concern I have with the USDA Food bank. After volunteering at the Food Bank for some time now, I have noticed how unhealthy the food items are. There are boxed dinners, doughnuts, etc. This has me worried based on the amount of people who need healthy food the most, but can’t afford it. I did some research and found an article on a man who had to take care of his 77-year old mother and himself with only $150 per month for food. His mother has high cholesterol and high blood pressure and is on a very strict diet (Bobbi Albano, 2011). They are relying on the food bank to get food and are struggling with her health. I believe this is a huge example and reason that USDA Food banks should start to gain healthier foods. Whether that means by donations, or by the USDA providing it.

Working in the food bank it is very sad to see people that are already unhealthy taking free food that isn’t going to give them much nutrition. I want them to come out even stronger, not with more health problems that they can’t afford. I can see it in their eyes that we are doing them a huge favor, and it feels amazing to be a part of it. What would make it even better is seeing them come out with granola bars, oranges, salads, and wheat bread, etc. I would love to see more food banks serving fresh food and vegetables for dinner or lunch services where they can eat a full meal at the location since some can’t take food home to refrigerate. I have seen places like the Portland rescue mission and soup kitchens do this but It would be great to expand this containing healthier food items.

I understand how difficult it is for the USDA food bank to give out healthy food. There are so many in different places and many only take donations, but can we convince people to donate healthy food? Many fruits and vegetables are going to waste around households, so why not urge people to give those things to those in need rather than only taking in non-perishable items? This is something I am very passionate about. I don’t think citizens should just be told to give up the gross food that they won’t eat, rather the healthy food that may go to waste.

Many people do not have the abilities to keep their food fresh for a long amount of time, but some do and I can see this making a huge difference in their lives. America also struggles with obesity and I feel that those in need are at more of a risk to be obese if food banks continue to carry food that is high in fat and sodium. I really appreciate everything that the USDA Food Bank does. I love helping them out through my local church and giving out food to those who will have use for it, I just think we should take a healthier approach.

Thank you for your consideration,


Brittany Woodard

Hillsboro, Oregon 97124

Authors note:

With this research, I tried to dig as deep as possible and hit all of the points that I wanted to. I tried to take my time and get the best articles I could find. This really helped me to find out more information and to prove that this is really a problem. My most significant learning was how much people struggle with their health. The USDA Food bank is a highly successful program but many clients see it as unhealthy. I was really astonished when I heard about the elderly, the obese, and the pregnant women. Their babies can suffer from malnutrition if the mother doesn’t eat enough highly nutritious foods. This is very important and was very eye opening for me, and I hope it is for you too. It was great to see that the senators have a place for the public to state their concerns. I didn’t realize this was around and I loved being able to be a part of it.





  1. Kelly

    Great job on your research and writing Brittany! I really like you topic and agree that healthy food is a huge need. So many diseases are linked to poor nutrition. Your research articles had strong points and stories supporting the need for healthy food options for the poor and those accessing food at the food bank. From what I could tell though, none of these article specifically relate to Oregon. It would have been interesting to know the quality of food being served at Oregon Food Banks. I know my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop did a community garden last summer and donated all of the food to the Oregon Food Bank. So there is some fresh food that makes its way into the hands of people through the Food Bank.
    I thinking writing a letter to a Senator was an excellent way to advocate for your issue. You wrote a thorough, yet succinct, letter that focused on your experience and research regarding the needs for healthier food to be available at Food Banks. One think I might have wanted to see be included is a specific plan of action for how this could be accomplished. We know there is a need…but what can be done to correct it?
    Excellent job overall on your research and writing! And keep up the great work fighting for the people who need to the Food Banks services!

  2. Hi Brittany,
    I chose to read your project because I remembered it catching my interest during a previous discussion. I agree and think that eating habits starts young. From pregnancy and childhood were set up to eat a certain way. I cant imagine the feeling of not being able to pick my own food, but unfortunately its a problem many Americans (and everyone) is facing. I know healthy food is expensive and long shelve life which is needed to preserve food longer but maybe by having more local donations we could help have healthier options.
    Did you every check out that info I left in the discussion record about a fruit/veggie box? I dont know if there was any options close to our area but would be interesting in knowing how it could be set up if not.I like that you wrote a senator. Which one was it? i think thats one of the best options to get anything changed because the issue isnt with the workers of the food bank organization who Im sure do their best. Ive enjoyed reading your discussions and this post as well! Good luck in your future 🙂

  3. jossica

    great post and great theme. I loved your letter that you sent too. It’s so true, and so sad that healthier options seem not to be an option for those in need. My nine year old niece fits in that category. She has two younger siblings who are three and five years old, and my niece is not allowed to drink milk at her dad’s house, because it’s for the “babies” but they give her all of the soda, kool aid, and junk food that she wants. She is nine years old and weighs over 125 lbs. She has a hard time keeping up with her cousins who are the same age, and there are kids at school who make fun of her. It’s so sad that her dad and step mom don’t take her health into consideration, since they are low income and seem to feel that they can only afford unhealthy foods. Quantify is not always better than quality. Good job on your topic, although it’s an unfortunate situation, I did enjoy reading it.

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