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Nutrition Challenges for the Homeless


Stock image of food with a high nutritional valueIn the state of New York, there are 91,897 people who are homeless on a given night, representing 16.65% of the population. Most often, homeless individuals are preoccupied with where they’re going to sleep at night and whether they’ll eat at all than what kind of food they’re eating. Because of this, many people afflicted with homelessness struggle with malnutrition. They often eat what they can, and what they can eat usually is not enough to fulfill their daily nutritional needs.

Often, the food available to homeless individuals through shelter feeding facilities are high in fat, low in fiber, and lack the required daily nutrients, according to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. Even when homeless individuals get the financial means to buy or cook food for themselves, the nutritional quality of the food is usually lacking. Most cheap meals are highly processed, so while they’re filling, that’s all they are, all filler no substance. 

Another obstacle to eating nutritiously while homeless is the portability of nutritious food. This article from House the Homeless, Inc., talks about how even though it’s cheaper to buy in bulk - say $2 for 5 pounds of potatoes - carrying around 5 pounds of potatoes at all times is impractical. Other raw or canned foods might be easier to carry, but a homeless individual would have to carry around the necessary materials to cook and eat them including a saucepan, utensils, dishes, and a can opener. Knives are also required to prepare food, meaning the homeless individual could be arrested for carrying a weapon.

Hearts for the Homeless understands that maintaining a nutritious diet while homeless is an uphill battle. However, this challenge isn’t unique to the homeless population. We know that creating a healthy diet can be challenging for most people. That’s why we’re committed to trying to alleviate this problem with the latest expansion to Hearts Ministry. We will be opening the Hearts Harvest Pantry & Café which will serve as a place for our local community. With this expansion, we are looking to offer lessons on meal preparation and will be encouraging and inviting nutritionists and local chefs from around Buffalo to teach better nutritional habits and the value of meal planning.

Consider donating to our capital campaign and join us in reaching deeper into the community and providing resources and shelter to those in need.