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Thank you for bringing such an important subject to light in “Hiding in Plain Sight” (6/16) by Stephanie Mencimer. The Capital Area Food Bank is constantly working to dispel public misconceptions of hunger and malnutrition. Three hundred thirty thousand Washingtonians—one in three area children—are hungry or at risk of hunger. Many more, like the families in your article, are faced with little or no access to fresh produce or even a local grocery store, something suburbanites and car owners take for granted.
Addressing the critical problem that “[s]ome D.C. neighborhoods don’t even have supermarkets, much less a decent, affordable supply of fresh produce,” the food bank’s From the Ground Up program sponsors the Anacostia Farmers Market every Friday during the growing season, in partnership with Union Temple Baptist Church and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The market provides the surrounding Southeast Washington community with affordable produce from local farmers, cooking demonstrations, and nutrition information, and accepts EBT/food stamps and WIC coupons.
Second, with support from Share Our Strength, the food bank runs Operation Frontline cooking and nutrition classes for low-income residents, taught by volunteer chefs from area restaurants. Participants include children cooking alongside their parents, adults, teenage moms, and students, and all are enthusiastic and leave the classes with a sense of self-reliance. Many in such underserved communities are anxious to learn about healthy eating, but there is an appalling lack of knowledge as to how to budget and cook nutritiously—largely due to the severe decline in the amount of healthy, affordable food available to them.
The children in your article are not obese by choice. They often have no other options with regard to medical care, nutrition, and food—not at school, at home, or in their neighborhoods. We must make a commitment as a city and a society to ensure that everyone has equal access to healthy food and nutrition information.
Capital Area Food Bank