ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)-As inflation across the country rises, so does the cost of food and other essentials, leaving many struggling to find access to healthy food for themselves and their families. In Ector County alone 16.6% of the population lives in poverty, compared to 14% across Texas and 11% throughout the United States.
The Midland Health manager, Dr. Whitney Craig, spoke to ABC Big 2 News about poverty and how someone’s economic status affects their access to not only healthy food but quality food.
“Poverty falls under the social determent of health. (Where) there is poverty, there is (also) the access to actual health care. There’s the access to education but also quality of education, quality of health care. There’s the access to nutritious foods and opportunity for professional growth. Those all together kind of impact your health along with, of course, poverty,” Craig said. “They don’t have access to the nutritional items…your fruits, your vegetables. They live in places that have a lot of fast food or convenience stores where they get a lot of quick items that have no nutritional or minimal nutritional value.”
Many of the impoverished population live in food deserts. A food desert, according to dictionary.com, is defined as an area, usually low-income, in which residents cannot easily get to stores that sell affordable, healthful food. Without access to healthy options, health problems are likely to follow.
Those problems include obesity, diabetes, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and many more.
Dean Sawyer, a regular at a local soup kitchen, said he experienced those problems first hand.
“I got diabetes and high blood pressure. In fact two weeks ago I was working at Goodwill and some guy told me to go to the hospital. I went in, my blood sugar was 780 and my (blood pressure) was 193 over 60. So I was on the verge of stroking out or having a heart attack. Didn’t know it. I spent three days in there. And they got me the right medications so I am doing better now,” Sawyer said.
To help those facing limited food options, non-profits and food banks that service the community have stepped in to help those who are homeless and impoverished with access to healthier food options for the entire family free of charge. We sat down with Breaking Bread Ministries about the meals they offer and how they are helping rebuild the lives of people in the community one meal at a time.
“Very well balanced and I would consider it restaurant quality. We make it a point to feed them good, nutritious, warm hot meals and not just pizza and hot dogs and that sort of thing. We throw the fresh produce at them…just really good meals,” Shirley Almanza, Executive Director of Breaking Bread Ministries.