Recently I’ve been talking to personal trainers and health fitness specialists about the correlation between poverty and obesity. This topic was brought up multiple times in the HBO documentary Weight of the Nation and Dr. Robert Lustig’s series The Skinny on Obesity. Both series are invaluable to this discussion and went beyond the economics of obesity and also addressed the neurological, psychological, biological, political and hormonal components of this epidemic.
According to the HBO documentary, 9 out of the 10 poorest states are 9 of the 10 most obese states. Some health fitness specialists may feel isolated from this statistic; after all, if people can’t pay their mortgage or afford food, they will not likely purchase a gym membership and pay for personal training sessions. Students in the health fitness specialist program at Globe University/Minnesota School of Business want to know what they can do to help. In this post, I will share five tips for personal trainers who want to be part of the solution.
1. This year, I planted a garden with a considerable amount of cucumbers, butternut squash, tomatoes, onions, peppers, blackberries and zucchini. I did so wanting to donate healthy produce to a local food shelf, Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners. Last week I dropped off nearly forty pounds of cucumbers and this morning I dropped off another ten. (It turns out that cucumbers love the heat and the moisture we’ve had this summer!) I’m getting about a pound of tomatoes every two days and the blackberries are about to take off. The zucchini is just getting started and the butternut squash is taking over the majority of the garden. I think I’ll have several hundred pounds of zucchini and butternut squash to donate – stay tuned for my end-of-season count!
2. If you live in an apartment or don’t have room in your yard for a garden, consider joining forces with a local non-profit organization to do some “gleaning.” Fruits of the City, part of the non-profit organization The Minnesota Project, worked with volunteers to “glean” fruit from people’s trees that was otherwise going to waste. Last year they salvaged close to 15,000 pounds of fruit and donated it to local food shelves. If a program like this doesn’t exist in your area, perhaps you can start one yourself!
3. If you are too busy to “glean” and don’t have space for a garden, consider adding some health items to your grocery cart that you can donate to a food shelf. I’ll never forget an interview I heard years ago on the radio. The host of the radio show asked the guest to share with the audience items that were cherished at the food shelves. What was something we could donate that would make someone’s day? The guest didn’t hesitate with her answer: sweet potatoes. So, if you want to make someone’s day and give them a healthy dose of vitamin A, grab a couple of organic sweet potatoes or a few cans of organic sweet potatoes the next time you are shopping and donate it to your local food shelf.
4. Another way to help is to volunteer to work at a local food shelf. Opportunities are available and then you can get an inside look at what is being served and if we are perpetuating this epidemic or actually trying to solve it.
5. If you are short on time, you can also make monetary donations to organizations like Hunger Free Minnesota or your local food shelves.
Our country is facing significant problems as a result of the obesity epidemic. If you have additional suggestions on ways to help, please let me know.
Let’s pull together to build stronger, healthier communities!
Learn more about the Health Fitness Specialist degrees at Globe University/Minnesota School of Business.