ORLANDO, Fla. – This year’s theme for Black History Month is a focus on the importance of health and wellness within African American communities.
The theme of Black Health and Wellness promotes, “body positivity, physical exercise, nutrition, exploring other dietary options,” according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
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During the coronavirus pandemic, people from all walks of life, socioeconomic statuses, and geographic locations have struggled with food insecurity.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is serving double the daily distribution before the outbreak began. According to their website, “more than a quarter of a million meals are being provided every day to the six-county service area.”
Nneka Ricketts-Cameron, a registered dietitian at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, has patients as young as infants to adults aged 21.
“This is a wonderful theme for Black History Month and I’m so excited about it, that we’re focusing on health and wellness and the message is that you have control,” Ricketts-Cameron said.
With hundreds of thousands of jobless Floridians, lines for food distribution have remained long.
Karen Broussard is the chief community impact officer at Second Harvest Food Bank in Central Florida. She said recognizing economic disparities and nutrition have been important topics during this time.
“Food can play a role not only in preventing chronic illness but in managing and navigating through that in a way that will keep people out of the hospital, keep them from that enormous barrier of tremendous medical bills, really simply using food and we make that food as available as possible,” Broussard said.
“Food can be cultural but food is also regional, we learn how to eat based on how our parents eat and a lot of the decisions we make regarding food are just due to our vicinity,” Ricketts-Cameron said.
Ricketts-Cameron said fresh fruits and vegetables tend to be the most difficult to access in areas known as “food deserts” or neighborhoods without grocery stores or farmers’ markets.
“And how do we know that they’re in a food desert? We just have to ask,” Ricketts-Cameron said.
She went on to say many patients feel reluctant to express a need for help regarding food.
“A lot of us have built a wonderful rapport with our patients, and we’re able to ask them honestly, what’s going on,” Ricketts-Cameron said.
Second Harvest has over 550 locations in six Central Florida counties to find healthy food. Use the food locator tool here to find the pantry or distribution center nearest you.
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