How well do you know your neighbors in Bessemer and Jefferson County? Many of them face serious challenges to obtaining good nutrition. Here are some facts and figures to give you a glimpse at the issues that threaten their health and well-being.
- More than 27% of Bessemer residents live in poverty.
- 74% of students enrolled in the Bessemer School District for the 2014-2015 year are living at or below the poverty line.
- 88,000 Birmingham residents lack access to healthy foods.
- 66.6% of adults in Birmingham are either overweight or obese.
- 22.1% of third graders in Jefferson County are overweight or obese.
Food access is an increasingly important issue, especially for residents of low-income areas. Many live in “food deserts,” meaning a geographical area, generally with a low-income population, where residents lack convenient access to grocery stores or supermarkets, and thus have limited access to fresh food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies the Bessemer community as a “food desert.”
Studies show that low-income families tend to consume a less nutritious diet than other households and that low-income neighborhoods frequently lack full-service grocery stores and local farmers markets. Families are left to shop at their local convenience or corner stores, where access to fresh produce and low-fat items are limited, if available at all. In turn, residents—especially those with limited transportation—choose more readily available and more affordable options that are often higher in fat, added sugars and refined grains. An estimated 41% of the Birmingham population lives in a “food desert,” lacking access to fresh food.
Adults with lower incomes have a greater chance of becoming obese and children from low-income families are twice as likely to become obese. Children suffering from prolonged poor nutrition are at greater risk for obesity, mental and emotional health problems, and a failure to thrive academically. Obesity in adults poses similar problems. Obese adults are more likely to develop serious health conditions including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Emotional suffering, loss of time at work and limited job options are just a few other effects of obesity among our adult neighbors.
We can’t have a healthy community if we don’t have healthy neighbors. It’s important for kids to succeed in school and for their parents to be productive in their jobs. We’ve seen that low-income families are at a disadvantage to these opportunities because their lack of access to fresh, nutritious food increases their likelihood of health issues—including obesity—which bring with them a host of other problems that are not only damaging to the individual but also very costly to us as a community. What if we were able to help prevent this with a simple idea? This is where The Foundry Ministries needs you to come alongside us!
The need to bring fresh, healthy food options to low-income families in Jefferson County is great. The impact doing so can have on our community is tremendous. Our mobile Produce Pantry can help bridge impoverished neighbors to healthy food and other services provided by The Foundry Ministries. Join us in helping our neighbors in need.