Find your state representative and let them know you are worried about rising rates of chronic disease and what it could mean for your community’s long-term health and stability.
Explore ways toTake Action
Crawl-Walk-Run Action Steps
Most articles on Better the Future conclude with actionable steps readers can take. While some of us may be ready to take off running right away, others may need time to learn to crawl. We come from different backgrounds and have differing motivations for wanting to influence change to our food culture. We hope somewhere within these steps everyone can find a comfortable place to begin.
Crawl steps are designed to make you stop and consider an idea, to think about why our culture is structured the way it is or to notice how food culture influences your daily life.
Walk steps move beyond thinking and discovering for yourself to begin to influencing the people closest to you, like family, friends and coworkers. Most people will find these manageable with few resources or outside help.
Run steps move beyond the comfort zone of our close social circles to influence the community in which we live, work and play. These often require the support of others, and work on a broader level.
Can’t find a mutual network in your area? Develop your own! Look online for guides on how to start a mutual aid network or reach out to an existing one in the state. Establishing a mutual aid network can ensure that those most vulnerable in your community are provided the food and goods they need.
Don’t have a Veggie Rx near you? Research models in nearby communities. Talk to your local farmers market, public health department, or health clinic to gauge interest in starting one. Find a group that has been discussing and offer your support.
Talk to your local grocery store about offering produce from local farms, especially from farmers of color. If your workplace has a cafeteria, ask about including produce from local farms.
Most of us remember the fundraisers that encourage kids and their families to eat at a certain local fast food restaurant that will donate a portion of profits to the school on specific days. Ask the school how much they made last year. Then get a group of parents together and approach local businesses not promoting unhealthy meals if they would be interested in a similar arrangement. Maybe the local grocery store or a restaurant with healthy meal options would be interested.
Find local groups that are actively working to oppose the proposed budget cuts. A good place to start is your local food bank or county public health office. Ask what you can do to support their efforts. The more voices are combined, the louder the message will be heard in Washington, D.C.
Do you work for a school? From food service providers to principals and presidents, we can all find a way to influence nutrition on school campuses. Teachers and professors can find ways to include nutrition in their curriculum. Leaders can support students, employees and staff when they bring ideas to improve the nutritional culture. Food service providers can find healthier methods for preparing foods and can push for healthier options from food suppliers.
If this is the first you’ve heard of heart disease risk being established before birth, you’re probably not alone. Find a local researcher or physician who is familiar with the science, or a recorded talk online (here’s a great TEDx talk) and host a get-together to share. Maybe your office hosts monthly seminars? Or your place of worship? Or just get a group of friends together for a pot-luck and discuss.
Are you part of a regular group or club? Why not have a gathering devoted to discussing the dietary guidelines? Find a local dietician through your health care provider, county public health office or local university and invite them to lead the discussion.
Tired of only being able to grab chips, candy or soda from the vending machine at work when the afternoon hungries hit? You’re probably not the only one. Find out who has the contract with the vending company, send out a survey to co-workers asking about their snack preferences, get on meeting agendas to discuss. Enough voices will let managers know they have a customer base for offering healthier snack options.
National programs like WIC (Women, Infants and Children), plus lots of regional and local programs work to ensure equitable access to fresh nutritious foods for all. Find a local organization and volunteer. Learn about proposed legislation that could affect financing for these groups and write a letter to your elected official in support of the program. Vote for individuals who take a strong stance on increasing nutrition. Do you work for an organization that can take a stand on social issues, proposed legislation or candidates running for elected office? Schedule a meeting with a candidate or elected official for your organization to express its support for increasing access to nutritious foods for all. Voices banding together will turn the tide of chronic disease.
Look into groups in your area that are advocating for change to the food culture. The local health department, health systems and non-profit agencies are great places to start. Find out whether they have volunteer opportunities, or whether you could help by writing to an elected official or attending a public meeting to show your support for issue they are trying to advance