Access to healthy options for all

By Heather Acheson, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Sometimes, some of the best ideas come out of difficult situations. And the dismal economy during the past several years has created many difficult situations.

Among them is access to nutritious food options for those in need — people who have lost their jobs, are chronically unemployed, and even homeless. For these individuals, any meal rather than a healthy meal has become the priority.

Realizing this doesn’t have to be the case, local and regional non-profit groups and community-focused organizations have stepped in to lend a hand, and so far to great success — although more community support is needed.

This is the second year that “Churches in Partnership,” which includes St. John’s Presbyterian in Camas, and Columbia Presbyterian and First Presbyterian in Vancouver, has planted a garden at the Washington State University Extension. The vegetables raised at the site are distributed through the Clark County Food Bank. Last year, 18,900 pounds of produce were raised with 727 volunteer hours.

The Oregon Food Bank has a “Plant a Row” program that encourages that state’s residents who have gardens to plant an extra row of vegetables to be donated to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Last year, this effort generated nearly 80,000 pounds of produce.

Even closer to home, the non-profit Camas Farmers Market reaches people in need by accepting electronic benefit transfer cards and Women, Infants and Children family and senior citizen vouchers. This option helps give people of all socioeconomic backgrounds access to that which will keep them healthy.

Providing these kinds of healthy opportunities to citizens in our communities does not happen without a great deal of time and effort from people who are willing to lend a hand, which any of these groups would be glad to reach out and accept.