Food Banks That Churches Count On Are Challenged By Rising Demand, Spoilage Issues

Ramen noodles again? For millions on U.S. food stamps, ‘This is not the way I envisioned my life’

An example of lunch items bought with Silva's food stamps.

“Professional athletes in general are endorsing a lot of unhealthy foods, which is concerning for a country that’s struggling with obesity,” says lead author Marie Bragg, a health policy researcher at Yale University. These athletes “could do a lot of good to promote public health, but unfortunately they are promoting foods that are really unhealthy,” she says. Researchers tracked endorsements by the top 100 athletes as identified by Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2010 Power 100 rankings. It ranks athletes according to their endorsement value and prominence in their sport. Of 513 brands endorsed by the top 100 athletes: – 24% were in the food and beverage category, second to the sporting goods or apparel category, which accounted for 28% of endorsed brands. – 79% of 62 food products endorsed were high-calorie and poor in nutrients. – 93% of 46 advertised drinks got 100% of calories from added sugar. Sports beverages represented the largest category of endorsements (39), followed by soft drinks (21) and fast food (16). The study focused solely on 2010 data and does not address how the athletes’ endorsements may have changed since then. It was designed “as an exploratory study of what the landscape looks like,” says Bragg. NBA star James had the most food and beverage endorsements, including Sprite, McDonald’s and Powerade. Manning was second, with endorsements including Gatorade and Pepsi-Cola. Williams was third, with Kraft Oreo, Gatorade, Nabisco 100 Calorie Pack Snacks and Got Milk. A score was generated for each athlete based on his or her Power 100 ranking, the number of ads and food endorsements, the highest percentage of food endorsements compared with other endorsements, and the healthfulness of each food and beverage endorsed. Where 1 is the worst possible score and 100 the best, Manning topped that list at 28.9, followed by Williams (32.4) and James (42.7).

Harris , E-mail the writer From the loading dock of the cavernous Capital Area Food Bank, Bishop Godfrey Nwaneri and members of the Divine Grace Mission loaded several carts of frozen meat and fresh vegetables that they would take back to the church and offer to those in need of food. Once at the church, Nwaneri said he would make sure that the meat and vegetables were distributed quickly after all, such precious food shouldnt go to waste. Video Bishop Godfrey Nwaneri of Divine Grace Mission discusses what it’s like to work closely with a food bank to feed those in need. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post) – Gerri Magruder, executive director of Helping Hands Ministry at the First Baptist Church of Capitol Heights, is pictured at the Capitol Area Food Bank. We try to shop very close to the distribution day so the perishables would not spoil, said Nwaneri, who hands out food on the first Saturday of every month. The Maryland pastor is part of a network of more than 500partner agencies that distribute 45 million pounds of food to more than 500,000 people across the Washington area each year. And although the distribution includes bread, cereal and canned goods, there is increasing focus among church food banks to supply fresh vegetables and meat for the good health of those in need. Fresh food thats the key to lowering high blood pressure and diabetes, said Jeri Bailey, director of the food pantry at the Dupont Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who was at the food bank the same day as Nwaneri. We prepare bags for 130families a week that includes a meat, fresh greens, canned goods and other items, Bailey said. But the distribution of fresh food means extra attention must be paid to ensuring that the donated perishables dont spoil. Nearly 36 million tons of food were wasted nationally in 2011, said Nancy Roman, president of the Capital Area Food Bank. Roman recently helped organize a summit in Alexandria to address how local churches and organizations can reduce food spoilage.

Food poisoning: Protect yourself

Proper food safety and protection against illness begins at the grocery store, experts say.

While there are those who break the rules, for sure, there are honest recipients like me who follow them. Dont cut assistance for the honest, she argues. Rather, cull the bad apples by making rules stricter. She says: Some Americans actually need temporary assistance and have no other options. Like a failure and a loser At about $1.28 a meal to spend, Tim E. Bush usually opts for microwavable meals or sandwiches, as long as theres a coupon handy. But, often, its ramen noodles again. Theyre less than a buck. He prefers fruits and vegetables, but he says eating healthy, while not impossible, isnt as easy as eating cheaply. I’m a health-conscious person, at least I would be, the 31-year-old Philadelphian says. An artist, Bush works every day and earns about $900 a month while caring for his 55-year-old mom, who is disabled. He receives $119 a month in food-stamp benefits. Some view artists as broke and poor already, Bush says. To think that others might also consider me a strain on the system because I am on SNAP makes me even more stressed. View gallery . Bush’s typical meal: a $1 to $2 microwavable meal. On stamps for six years, Bush also receives Social Security disability because hes diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Storage Packaging meat products in leak-proof containers would also help cut cross-contamination. New Zealand, for instance, saw a significant reduction in foodborne illness after mandating leak-proof packaging, Tauxe said. When you get home, storing raw meats in a plastic bag or container to prevent any juices from dripping on other foods is also important. Listeria monocytogenes , another type of illness-causing bacteria, can grow in foods in the refrigerator, according to the CDC. Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature inside the fridge; it should be 40 degrees or lower, and the freezer should be 0 degrees or lower. Food preparation Start with clean hands . Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday twice) before and after handling food and after other activities, such as changing diapers or using the bathroom. Ideally, use separate cutting boards for fruits and vegetables and raw meat to avoid cross-contamination. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water. Scrubbing melons and cucumbers with a clean brush is recommended ; using soap to clean them is not. Some home cooks wash their meat under running water before cooking, but, experts say, that can spread contaminated juices in places that may not be visible. Use hot, soapy water to clean utensils and cutting boards after preparing foods; use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean towels to clean work surfaces. Proper cooking is essential for meat , poultry and seafood. Cooking temperatures have to reach a certain temperature to destroy bacteria such as E.