KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Food Equality Initiative, A Kansas City, Missouri, based organization, has declared Sept. 14 as "Food is Medicine Day."
The goal is to bring attention to the challenges faced by people diagnosed with food allergies or Celiac disease.
People with these diagnoses often have to buy specialized foods to stay healthy, but those foods are often more expensive than the traditional versions.
For example, according to Food Equality Initiative, an average loaf of store-brand bread costs six cents per ounce.
Name-brand bread costs around 15 cents per ounce. But gluten-free bread, which is what someone with Celiac disease would have to buy, costs 65 cents per ounce. That's 983% higher than the store-brand version.
These so-called "free-from" foods — or foods that do not include certain ingredients and are safe for a person with food allergies or Celiac disease — almost always cost more.
For families living paycheck to paycheck, it can be nearly impossible to afford the higher prices. But, not eating the right foods for their diet can make them sick, leading to high medical costs. Some food allergies can also be fatal.
"The regular health care system, you can get a prescription in a bottle," Alicia Poole, board president for Food Equality Initiative said. "The cure for food allergies and Celiac [disease] is food that you buy, and normally it's a lot more expensive."
That's what led to the creation of "Food is Medicine Day."
There are several ways to participate:
- Post on social media: post a photo of an orange food (orange is the color of Hunger Action Month). In the caption, explain what the phrase "food is medicine" means to you. Include the hashtags #FIMDAY, #FoodisMedicineDay and #FoodisMedicine.
- Donate to Food Equality Initiative: donations will help the organization ship boxes of specialized food to people with food allergies or Celiac disease.
- Petition your government: send a letter to your local city, town, or state government, asking them to declare Sept. 14 as "Food is Medicine Day." Follow these instructions.
- Complete the Food is Medicine Scavenger Hunt: take a walk through your grocery store and see if you can find certain specialized food items, then compare the prices to traditional items. There are several different scavenger hunts, like a gluten-free one or a peanut-free one. Find them here. There is also a digital version. Once you finish them, send the completed list to email@example.com to be entered into a raffle to win a swag bag from Food Equality Initiative.
People can find more information about Food is Medicine Day here.
For more information about Food Equality Initiative's food box shipments, click here.