Our broken food system has led to an obesity epidemic and left millions of Americans with chronic food insecurity. Poor diet and diet-related illnesses are not the results of bad individual choices – inequitable access to healthy food is to blame. Millions of Americans cannot afford fresh produce and high-quality proteins due to economic oppressors like low wages and unaffordable housing. Others face limited access to nutritious whole foods because of unstocked store shelves, limited fresh food options, and unreliable transportation. Children, especially those in BIPOC communities, are bombarded with advertisements for fast-food restaurants, processed snacks, and sugary beverages.
Real, nutritious food has become a privilege that one in eight American households are unable to afford. Malnutrition and obesity are especially dangerous as we continue the battle against COVID-19. Pre-existing conditions caused by poor nutrition, like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and hypertension, put COVID patients at a greater risk of complications.
Eat REAL’s mission is to help fix this broken system by leveraging the public school system to make changes that strengthen access to healthy foods through our school certification program. Public schools in America serve five billion meals each year, and millions of children rely on school meal programs for their primary source of nutrition and up to 50% of their caloric intake.
Our school system’s collective buying power has the potential to upend the current processed food dominated system and make real, healthy foods the affordable and accessible options.
By spring of 2025, Eat REAL Certified schools have the potential to prevent the consumption of more than 24 million pounds of added sugar (that’s 2.8 billion teaspoons avoided!) and offer more than 380 million minimally processed and scratch-cooked meals.
Navigating a broken food system
Our Family Cooking and Shopping Guide has tips to help you eat well at home during these uncertain times. The booklet will help guide you to make delicious, nutritious dishes with simple ingredients you may already have at home and provide shopping tips to maximize nutrition during these uncertain times. Stock up on produce that has a long shelf life like broccoli, kale, and potatoes. If your local grocery store lacks fresh fruits and vegetables, turn to frozen and canned, but make sure to check the added salt levels on canned goods. Keep nuts, bread, and ground meats in the freezer, so they last longer, avoiding unnecessary food waste.