March is National Nutrition Month, a time to celebrate health and wellness, and to focus on making informed food choices, developing sound eating habits, and promoting consistent food security. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that food security means “that all Americans have consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, affordable foods essential to optimal health and well-being.”
Unfortunately, too many people live with food insecurity, when the availability of nutritionally adequate foods is limited or uncertain, most often because of financial constraints. According to a recent report by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, food insecurity affects 1 in 10 households in New York State. Researchers have demonstrated an association between food insecurity and increased depression, anxiety, and utilization of psychiatric emergency services among individuals with serious mental illness (SMI). Those with SMI have remarkably high rates of food insecurity. As mental health professionals, we have a role to play in advising our clients about a healthy diet, given that food-related risk factors can provoke and exacerbate mental illnesses and medical comorbidities. Referrals to food and nutrition assistance programs, local food pantries, and nutrition professionals can be part of our service planning in support of consistent food security.
Source: memo from Dr. Anne Marie T. Sullivan, Commissioner, NY State Office of Mental Health
Here are a few resources that you might find helpful:
- NYC Food Policy Center: Hunger & Food Insecurity
- Fresh Connect
- Health Bucks
- NYC Department of Health Nutrition Services
- God’s Love We Deliver: GLWD cooks and home-delivers nutritious, medically tailored meals for people too sick to shop or cook for themselves. They also provide ongoing nutrition assessment, education and counseling. GLWD is free. The application can be found on the website. A doctor needs to fill out the brief medical necessity section.
- Meals On Wheels
- NY State Office for the Aging: Food and Meals
- Food Bank NYC
- AccessNYC (emergency food assistance)