>>Gene: You’ve been watching the documentary
“Big Healthy Life,” by local filmmaker Chris Schueler. I’m joined now in studio by one of the experts
in that film, Patty Keane. She’s a registered dietician and associate
scientist at the UNM Prevention Research Center. Thank you for being here. Really appreciate you being here. Now the film mentions that New Mexico ranks
number two in the nation for childhood food insecurity. What does that mean exactly? It’s a term we hear a lot what is it?>>Patty: We do hear it a lot, and we used
to hear it a little bit differently. We used to hear it more referred to as hunger,
right, and you can thank epidemilogists, who basically came and said you know we really
can’t call it hunger, because hunger is an individual physiological condition. And, the way the United States measures food
insecurity is at the household level, so what they are talking about really is, and there’s
four levels. So there’s high food security, marginal food
security, and then food insecurity and low food insecure, low food security, excuse me
and those correlate with what are the, how does that food security level in that household
manifest. So when we talk about, really we’ve lumped
together low food security and very low food security together often in that measure but
basically what that means is that in the household there’s not adequate access. There’s not confidence that there’s going
to be access to that food and when we talk about very low food security that additionally
means that people are changing their eating behaviors so they’re reducing the amount of
food that they’re taking in. They’re not eating their culturally appropriate
foods, right, the traditional foods that they might be used to. So, that’s essentially, that’s sort of the
academic sort of description of it and definition. And the taking out the hunger part of that
terminology was challenging on the advocacy side, right, because it doesn’t resonate the
same way. You talk about low food security and very
low food security, they don’t resonate the same way for people as hunger does, but, so
when we look at sort of the literature and the statistics, it’simportant to understand
what those differentiations are, but certainly to
recognize that what that means is that individual people, New Mexicans, children, seniors, veterans
are experiencing hunger physically, right, and the health impacts and all the
other impacts.>>Gene: I appreciate the length of that description,
because it is a confusing term for a lot of folks. Another term that we we talk about here a
lot at New Mexico PBS is food deserts, and particularly for rural folks and in our state. So fruits and veggies of course is the goal
here. What happens for folks in
rural parts of our state who may not have access to readily available fruits and veggies
just down the road, as we, you know, take for granted in the city sometimes?>>Patty: Right. So they, lots of different strategies for
managing that, right, so some of it can be going to larger stores once a month and stocking
up in that way. You know, we don’t, from a nutrition standpoint,
we certainly want to encourage fresh fruits and vegetables. We know that that’s, you
know, supportive of the local economy, but we also don’t want to necessarily demonize
canned fruits and vegetables, right, frozen fruits and vegetables. That’s really important in these conversations,
to recognize that for some that is all that they can access, and so that that’s an important
thing I think to keep in mind, too. Certainly when, and I do a lot of work in
rural New Mexico, for many of the families that we work with in communities that we’re
in, yes, they need to drive 50 miles to a grocery store. So, they do rely on those smaller gas station,
convenience store type, dollar general, right, you know, the dollar-type stores. They do rely on those for that kind of access. And certainly, you know, urban areas have
food deserts too. In a lot of pockets in the city will have
those, but in the rural piece is not only impactful for individual families but certainly
for kids it also it puts a lot of burden on schools when we talk about getting fresh foods
into the school system, you know, smaller rural, particularly smaller head starts and
and those types of of institutions have a much harder time getting purveyors to be willing
to drive that distance, so it comes on the other side of that food chain.>>Gene: I can see that too. I could see that. That’s interesting. One of the things that came up in the doc
that I think a lot of us can relate to is two big
problems for a lot of families, that is time and also money. Kind of taking those two things at a time,
if two things separately, if you don’t have a lot of time for preparation all that kind
of thing, but you do need to gets kids fed and get out the door sometimes the unhealthy
option is the better time option sure and that’s a difficulty how do I, how do we get
around that?>>Patty: So, we, what we really know is first
and foremost the way to save money, all of us should be doing it, right, is planning,
and a lot, but a lot of, we’re not necessarily learning that in school anymore. We used to learn it in Home-Ec. We’re not doing that any more and so that’s one of the things. And, one of the programs that I run is a snap-ed
funded program in the state there’s lots of snap-ed programming in the state of New Mexico. New Mexico State University runs
their big “I can” program and that’s really about empowering families with those skills,
and it’s, again, it’s the things that maybe we used to learn in Home-Ec, or somewhere
else or from our families, but for whatever reason a lot of those skills and that knowledge
isn’t necessarily being passed down, right? So it’s, okay, how do I make a shopping list
and stick to it. I mean, it sounds really boring and it’s really
sounds basic but for a lot of us that is sort of the gateway
to okay I can do this right and I can stick to my budget. We do a lot of that planning with families
and actually we did an activity with them to show that you may save time but you’re
actually not necessarily saving that much money by going through the fast food lines,
for example,if you recreate that same exact meal at home, you actually will
save a lot more money and you can even still save money if you even make that meal healthier,
right, by kind of aligning more with dietary guidelines and having more fruits and vegetables
and things like that. So, a lot of it really is the educational
piece to do that for families. There are some, there’s real, if people have
online access there’s loads of good resources, particularly at USDA’s
website there myplate.gov and also the snap-ed connection which I can send those links so
that you have them.>>Gene: We’ll have them up on our website,
absolutely.Another resource that I have found and cooking in bulk is another
challenge for people. YouTube is an absolute goldmine for how to
cook in bulk. It’s amazing to me that people are doing this
online. I do have a question about, the reality is
a lot of our folks do have to eat from places like Roadrunner and pantries and it’s just
a reality we deal with. What’s your sense of the kind of food and
nutrition folks are getting in those environments? Is it good nutrition? Is it something just to stopgap, or how does
that work?>>Patty: So, and full disclosure, I’m on the
board for Roadrunner Food Bank, so Roadrunner has really done extensive, really innovative
work in supporting fresher food, healthier foods. They’re piloting lots of different programs
around the state, providing fresh fruits and vegetables at the mobile food pantries in
particular, as well as their brick-and-mortar food
pantry partners. Traditionally food pantry packages are very,
are inadequate in a lot of the nutrients of concern that we have, particularly for children
but that’s coming a long waybut that is a, you could do a whole show on
that, because that, when we really talk about who’s the population that they’re serving,
right, low income food insecure families and individuals, when we’re talking about serving
that population, that population is at higher risk for chronic disease, nutrition-related
chronic disease. So there’s this sort of food insecurity and
chronic disease cycle that’s pretty well documented in our, in our academic literature and there’s
lots of research being done in that area too, to basically develop that evidence so that
than we can develop better intervention, and then also, but you know some of that, there’s
a big mind shift that would need to happen because there’s a long-standing perception
that we just need to give them calories if they’re
hungry, right?>>Gene: I could imagine. I can’t thank you enough for coming in. It’s a big subject for New Mexico. It’s a huge subject and thank you for all
the work you’re doing with this. I really appreciate it. Now, let’s head back into the film. We finish up with “Big Healthy Life” with
a section on exercise and how to help families put their best foot forward.