"I think that as a community we really need to find creative ways to address the hunger needs for people who have chronic diseases."
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Hi, my name’s Margie Erwin. I’m a registered dietician/nutritionist with CARES Community Health. I didn’t really understand the impact or the connection between hunger and health care. So many clients would come to me and I’d instruct them on diabetes or I’d instruct them on heart disease or on obesity, and they would look at me and be like “Yeah, you tell me to eat these foods, but how am I supposed to get them?” And I kind of thought well, who can’t get food? I didn’t understand that if someone’s not well enough to access the food, well then their health is not going to improve.
You know, people come out of the hospital with pneumonia, for example, or let’s say they just had a major surgery and maybe they just had breast cancer. Well then what happens is they come out of the hospital, and how do they go ahead and take the bus to go get food? So whether it’s food banks – but it’s even also just to the grocery store – how do you get on the bus when you’re sick? If you don’t have someone you could ask to go purchase food for you, you have to go yourself. What if you’re too sick? And what if you don’t have the money?
I’ve always been proud of Thanksgiving in Sacramento. Everyone comes out for the Run to Feed the Hungry or different things, and I think everyone just assumes that everyone’s getting a turkey. And I’m thinking yeah, the people are getting a turkey who could wait in line for four hours, but I kind of feel like the people who need the turkeys most are those people who couldn’t get to the location, or couldn’t wait in line for four hours. And so I think that as a community, we really need to go ahead and find creative ways to address the hunger needs of people who have chronic diseases, because I think that’s really where the true hunger is, and not for people who can go to four different food banks during the week who are well enough to do that.