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Pat Van Burkleo: Fighting Food Insecurity With Public Health Campaigns

Public health campaigns are imperative to alleviating food insecurity, Pat Van Burkleo, executive director of Feeding Louisiana, the Louisiana Food Bank Association, explained in an interview.

Public health campaigns are imperative to alleviating food insecurity, Pat Van Burkleo, executive director of Feeding Louisiana, the Louisiana Food Bank Association, explained in an interview.

Transcript

How can public health campaigns and education efforts be tailored to raise awareness about the relationship between food insecurity and chronic diseases?

Yeah, I mean any public campaign—we have a billboard campaign right now about not eating junk food and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and we get comments about seeing our billboards all the time. And I think it's just that education is always good. Providing educational programs about nutrition and the right kind of foods and where to shop, those are all valuable. They may not change behavior immediately, but it's an educational process that they now know. It will take a while for them to maybe take their knowledge and make it into habits but we also have to have the resources in their communities so they can develop these new habits. And so it's great to have education, but we need to fall back through to get resources so they can implement what they learn.

We've got a couple of things that are going on. One, we have a grant that we are trying to buy local produce, local farmers to put into the food banks. And so we have a $10 million grant from the USDA through the Department of Agriculture, that we're finding local farmers to do that. So we're very excited to have homegrown vegetables and fruit and catfish coming into our clients. And we think that's a success to help bill the small farmers, as well as help our neighbors.

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