Month: April 2014

Soundslides Project: Visit to a Local Church

On April 11th, I visited a local Church and watched Fresh Grocer deliver food to those in need. The following slideshow chronicles that visit.





Finding Nutrition in a “Food Desert”: A Difficult Proposition

ImageLast week, Professor Henstenburg discussed why food security is a growing concern that needs to be addressed. Henstenburg, a member of La Salle University’s Nursing and Health Sciences Faculty, has spent most of her academic career raising awareness about food-related issues. She plays a central role in several of La Salle’s nutritional programs, including the Didactic Program in Nutrition at La Salle and La Salle’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics. She is currently working on her doctorate in Health Policy at the University of the Sciences.

Henstenburg said that there two major problems that prevent poorer consumers from getting adequate nutrition: “food deserts” and a lack of access to financial aid. “Food deserts”, according to Henstenburg, are neighborhoods that lack a big grocery store.Typically, residents of these neighborhoods rely on corner stores to meet their nutritional needs. The problem with that is that many of those stores have a limited selection of healthy eating options. She also said that the neighborhood surrounding La Salle was once a food desert, but that things have improved since Fresh Grocer opened.

But the problem runs deeper than just access to food. Henstenburg says that the problem is also tied to economics. Poor people are unable to buy healthy food simply because they don’t have enough money to do so. The small amount of aid that is provided by SNAP, coupled with an inadequate federal minimum wage, perpetuates nutritional suffering in poorer communities. Henstenburg proposed that poor people would eat healthier if they received more SNAP benefits, and if the minimum wage was raised. In order for this to happen, she said that people needed to combat the various stigmas that are associated with receiving government aid to buy food. 

She presented a bold set of proposals that won’t be easy to enact. But they are worthwhile efforts to push for.

Healthy Eating: It’s a Mental Issue Too

Last Thursday, Dr. Edie Goldbacher talked to us about the unfortunate effects that eating disorders can have on people. Goldbacher, an assistant professor with La Salle University’s Department of Psychology, has done a lot of work relating to the prevention of eating disorders. She graduated from The College of New Jersey in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and she went on to get a doctorate degree in Clinical and Health psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007.  She has also completed various research projects that centered on alleviating underlying mental conditions that contribute to America’s obesity epidemic.

Dr. Goldbacher’s presentation discussed the various problems that the obesity epidemic presents. The statistical data in Goldbacher’s slideshow indicated that, over the last 10 years, obesity rates have skyrocketed all across the country. Goldbacher believes that there are two major contributing factors that perpetuate this problem. She said that “genetics load the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger”. In other words, certain individuals are predisposed to become obese, but that only occurs if certain external conditions influence their diet. Stress, anxiety, and inattentiveness can cause people to overeat. Over time, this eating pattern can be very detrimental to one’s health.

Dr. Goldbacher offered several suggestions to correct mental issues that can lead to unhealthy eating. Self monitoring and stimulus control are the most effective ways to combat obesity. Once a person becomes aware of what they eat and why they eat it, they can develop a plan to lose weight. Goldbacher also endorsed counseling as an effective way to improve one’s eating lifestyle.