Food Banks That Churches Count On Are Challenged By Rising Demand, Spoilage Issues

Fresh food thats the key to lowering high blood pressure and diabetes, said Jeri Bailey, director of the food pantry at the Dupont Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who was at the food bank the same day as Nwaneri. We prepare bags for 130families a week that includes a meat, fresh greens, canned goods and other items, Bailey said. But the distribution of fresh food means extra attention must be paid to ensuring that the donated perishables dont spoil. Nearly 36 million tons of food were wasted nationally in 2011, said Nancy Roman, president of the Capital Area Food Bank. Roman recently helped organize a summit in Alexandria to address how local churches and organizations can reduce food spoilage. Participants included Ben Simon, founder of the Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland; Elise H. Golan, director for sustainable development at the Department of Agriculture; Tom ODonnell, an environmental scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency; and Meghan Stasz, director of sustainability for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents such major brands as Kraft, General Mills and Nestle. Food waste is getting some attention from federal agencies, but [the summit] really connected it to people serving in the communities to begin a conversation that is needed in our region, Roman said in an interview. We are committed to fresh food and vegetables, but we have to pay attention to waste. As panelists talked about how more and more companies are allowed to give out food because of Good Samaritan donation laws, Gerri Magruder, coordinator of the food pantry at First Baptist Church of Capitol Heights , stood in frustration. I want real-life specifics. I would like to leave here with real solutions, said Magruder, who told the panel that there was a shortage of fresh produce when her volunteers recently went to the main food bank to pick up items for their weekly community giveaways. Marian Peele, senior director of partner relations and programs for the Capital Area Food Bank, said that although the system isnt perfect, the food bank has worked hard to improve the quality of what it distributes.

The products in tennis star Serena Williams’ ads had the worst scores for nutrition. Manning had the most ads for food and beverages with 25, followed by baseball player Ryan Howard with 21. Howard, the researchers wrote, endorsed the fewest energy-dense, nutrient-poor products. Underlying the research is a recommendation from the World Health Organization for policies limiting young people’s exposure to food advertising. “Professional athletes are in a unique position to use their highly visible status to promote healthy messages to youth,” the researchers wrote. Efforts to reach the athletes’ spokesmen were not immediately successful. The American Beverage Assn., a trade group, issued a statement saying, America’s beverage companies have a longstanding commitment to responsible advertising and marketing practices, including not directing advertising to audiences comprised predominantly of children under 12. The statement notes that children under 12 are the not the age groupthat is primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes. Football star Manning reportedly earns $10 million a year from contracts with Papa Johns Pizza, Gatorade, Wheaties and other companies that do not sell food, the researchers said. Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million a year from his endorsement contract with McDonalds, they said. James, also a basketball star, was reported to receive $5 million to endorse Bubblicious Gum; one flavor was called LeBrons Lightning Lemonade. Such money suggests “how much food and beverage companies value associations with celebrity athletes,” the researchers wrote. But, they said, future research should “examine how professional athletes endorsement of food products affects consumption, attitudes toward food and beverage brands, and intentions to purchase.” The researchers quantified professional athletes endorsements and evaluated the nutritional quality of those foods and drinks, and determined the number of TV commercial exposures of the endorsements and commercials.