The Future of Exploring Nutrition

Before 2008 the area surrounding La Salle University was considered one of the largest food deserts in the city of Philadelphia. A food desert is a place where there is no easy access to a grocery store. In 2008 the University built the Shoppes at La Salle. In this shopping center a Fresh Grocer was built helping to limit the size of the food desert. Now in 2013 Fresh Grocer and La Salle are again teaming up to bring better nutrition to the area.

shoppes at lasalle

                Next school year La Salle and Fresh Grocer are moving forward with the Exploring Nutrition program. The planning of this initiative started this year but will completely launch in the fall. So far the University and Fresh Grocer have done research on nutrition in the surrounding area and have also helped with local food drives.

One of the food drives was the Easter food drive held at the Fresh Grocer. For this food drive the Fresh Grocer collected and stored the food until La Salle could distribute the supplies to those who needed it. Another drive was held at Mount Airy Church of God in Christ. Mount Airy is a local church and hands out food monthly to the community. This year around Easter La Salle helped supply Mount Airy with food. Without La Salle Mount Airy mostly depends on supplies given from the government so the church was incredibly grateful for La Salle’s help.

Food_pictures_2013 012

The hardest thing to imagine was that there are people in the area that need charitable donations monthly. People running the food drive at Mount Airy even said that sometimes people need to receive food weekly, that food stamps only go so far. This reinforces what the movie “A Place at the Table” was stating. People can rarely live off food stamps, and charity only goes so far, there needs to be other alternatives to help people in need.

If someone can barely afford to feed themselves how can one expect to be concerned with nutrition? In the 19144 zip code, La Salle and the area surrounding it, there was a seven percent increase in obesity based on poverty. This meant 40.6% of people who live in poverty in 19144 are obese. Clearly there is at least a small correlation between poverty and obesity. And if adults cannot afford to feed themselves how are they supposed to teach their children healthy eating habits?

Adults Who Are Obese (Total)
Good Sample Size Projected Number Percentage
Obese 12,971 35.0%
Not Obese 24,089 65.0%
Adults Obesity by Poverty Status
Projected Number Percentage
Poor Obese 3,662 40.6%
Not Obese 5,354 59.4%
Non Poor Obese 9,309 33.2%
Not Obese 18,735 66.8%

These are the problems Exploring Nutrition needs to tackle. And one of the ways to do that is through food drives but also through education. Ann Henstenburg and Dana Palermo are both doing research on nutrition in the area. They taught a class to people in the local community and found that by teaching proper nutrition the citizens started to eat healthier and some of them even lost weight. If this approach can work with adults it should work with children. One of Exploring Nutrition’s plans is to help provide healthier lunches in the school, and hopefully this will lead to classes for children on nutrients and proper portion size.


Another problem also mention by “A Place at the Table” is the cost of healthy food. It is much cheaper, and more filling to get three hundred calories in junk food than it is in healthy food. This problem is more of a corporate problem than a local one. “A Place at the Table” mentions how the farm lobbies are incredibly strong and grow mostly corn, soy, and wheat, which are used to make processed foods. So it is hard for owners of vegetable and fruit farms to compete. This is also hard for places like Fresh Grocer because they want to help increase healthy nutrition but they also need to stay competitive. So they cannot lower their prices just for the needs of the community. They also have a duty to provide their customers with all options.

The movie above explained everything the Fresh Grocer has done for the community. The different food drives, the upstairs meeting area, even something as simple as staying open and helping people buy proper nutrition. Without this store the area surrounding La Salle would still be a food desert. Hopefully with Exploring Nutrition, La Salle and the Fresh Grocer can take things one step further and have the area not only be a former food desert, but also be an area where obesity is no longer a problem.


Easter Food Drive

Ashley Kuhn and I went to the Mt. Airy Church of God and Christ to investigate a local food drive they had. We went thinking that it was a yearly Easter food drive and learned it was much more. We were unable to attend the actual food drive but we did take some pictures of the food they had stored for the drive and the church. Here is a picture slide show of the beautiful church and some of the food. Click the picture to see the link.

“A Place at the Table”

“A Place at the Table” is a documentary about the growing problem of hunger in America. Currently there are 50 million people who do not have enough to eat in this country. Overall I did like the documentary. I thought it addressed a real problem in this country and presented viable solutions to the problem. What I did not like about the movie is number one was that it cost me about 7 dollars on amazon, number two I know it was supposed to be a call to action but it kind of came off as preachy, and number three it downplayed the role of charity.


The movie has interviews from a wide variety of people. The interviews range from doctors, hungry children and their parents, activists, and teachers. These interviews help show the viewer what it is like to be hungry and how it affects every aspect of our lives. Being hungry impacts not only ones nutrition and health but also how well a child does in school and a family’s peace of mind.


The movie also discusses how obesity and hunger are neighboring problems. It discusses how farms have subsidies to grow foods that can be processed instead of having subsidies for farms that grow fruits and vegetables. This causes fruits and vegetables to be more expensive and harder to obtain.


The next part of the movie is the call to action. The documentary stresses how this problem can be solved through government assistant programs and how we need to petition to Congress to increase food subsidies. This part of the movie suggests that through government alone we can solve this problem and charity is not the answer. I disagree. I think it should be a joint effort between government and charities. With so much economic instability I think it would not be right to expect the government to spend more money it does not have. However, hunger is a huge problem and it needs to be solved. So if charitable organizations like food kitchens, or even like La Salle and Fresh Grocers food store initiatives, get more backing from the government then together as a nation we can solve the problem of hunger.

Here is a link to the movies website and trailer  “A Place at the Table”  

Local Interviews

Here is a link in case that does not work

Local Interviews 

I interviewed three women who live in the area. I asked questions like where they grocery shop and what stores they wish were in the area. I learned a lot about  the best and cheapest places to grocery shop. I also learned what is lacking in the area. For example there are no restaurants, like saladworks, where people can get fast healthy food. Also, the closest place to buy fresh produce is Manayunk.

Reading the labels

Nutrition is complicated. Sometimes things that sound healthy are not, and things that seem unhealthy are needed in moderation. For example sometimes an organic candy bar can be much healthier than a nutrition bar. If a nutrition bar is full of sugar and chemicals it could be causing more harm than eating a candy bar. Now the candy bar would have to be healthy, this means eating a chocolate bar that is organic and not king sized. It also means that some nutrition bars lack basic nutritional elements like fiber and are full of processed chemicals.  This means that getting the right nutrition is incredibly complicated. To make sure you are getting the right nutrition you need to read the labels on your food. The labels will tell you how much protein, fiber, carbs, and vitamins are in a product. You also need to research and see how much of that nutritional element you need. People need fat and carbohydrates and sugar and salt to have a healthy diet, it all just needs to be in moderation. Just like how too much fiber and protein and even water can be unhealthy. Here are three blogs that help explain what to look for on the food labels. They will also be in the link box. This is a blog that explains why something labeled as a nutrition bar are not always a healthy option. Here is a link that specializes in nutrition facts. And this is Discovery health‘s blog about basic nutrition.

Outside information

So with this project to understand what the problem and how we can help we need to understand the basics of nutrition. I have put links in this post that give more information about the nutrition problems in lower-incomes, especially inner-city area’s and also a link if you would like to help. While these are posted here the links will also be in the link section the the side.  Here is the Yale site, this is Drexel’s site,  and here is the Food Trust Site. These websites are great. Colorful, vibrant, full of pictures, and they give pretty decent information.


Having successfully worked out Photoshop I will be posting more pictures of the types of food stores that are in the area. These pictures will portray the types of take-out places and food chains in the area and the type of food they sell.