Food Access

At Crossover, we believe everyone needs to eat healthy food. But not everyone has access to it. There are a lot of reasons why finding good food to eat isn’t always possible. To help, we created this page so you can learn what kinds of things can limit your access to food, how it can lead to poor health, and where to get help if you and your family are struggling with hunger.

Help for Overcoming Hunger and Poor Access to Food
1

Learn. Find helpful info to skim, read, watch, and listen.

2

Practice. Use the tools and resources provided here.

3

Let us help. Talk privately with your care team.

Expert Guidance Along the Way

  • Danielle Heuseveldt, RD, NBC-HWC
    Registered Dietitian
    Danielle is the Health Coach Program Director at Crossover. She is both a registered dietitian and certified health and wellness coach. In addition to a wealth of knowledge, she brings passion, compassion, practicality, and a touch of fun to the coaching partnership with members, and works to encourage and empower them to live their best lives.
  • Satoko Brigman, LMFT-S
    Mental Health Therapist
    Satoko is a Licensed Family and Marriage Therapist. She finds working with members a rewarding experience as she gets to witness their transformation, growth, and healing process, especially in midst of their turmoil. In her free time, Satoko can be found in the kitchen practicing the therapeutic power of baking.
Where to Find Help for Hunger

If hunger and inability to get healthy food is something you are facing, there are places to get help. Some of these are national and some can be found in your community. Here are some places to look: 

Local/Community Programs

  • Food Banks and Pantries–Do you know the difference between a food bank and pantry? Food banks get donations from businesses and grocery stores. They make sure the donations are good, then organize them and send them to food pantries. The food pantries give the food out to people who need it. Sometimes the food is canned or boxed (this is called shelf stable), but they have fresh fruit and vegetables, too. You can find food banks and pantries near you HERE. If you live in Southeastern Michigan, go HERE
  • Faith-Based Centers and Community Centers–Churches, temples and other places of worship may also have food to give. Check with a community center near you, too.
  • Meal Delivery–If you are homebound or have a chronic illness, you might be able to get food brought to your house. One program is called Meals on Wheels, but there are other programs, too. You can go online and search “Food Resources in (Your City)” to find help near you.
  • Soup Kitchens and Meal Centers–Soup kitchens are where people make and serve meals to anyone who comes to them. You can get a hot meal every day and nobody will ask you why you’re there. Some soup kitchens also give out clothing and toiletries. To find a soup kitchen near you, click HERE. 

National programs

  • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)–If you qualify for SNAP, you will get money on a debit card every month. That card can be used at certain grocery stores for food. They help people with long-term and short-term needs. The website also has recipes and ideas to help you budget your grocery money. For more information, click HERE. 
  •  WIC (Women, Infants, and Children)–WIC helps pregnant women and women who have recently had a baby. They give them healthy food and support with nutrition and breastfeeding. It’s mainly for women and children. But fathers with young kids can also get help. Dads can enroll kids age five or younger to learn about healthy food and get money for their family. 
  • TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)–TANF is a state-run program that the government pays for. They help people become self-sufficient through their services. You can search for what kind of help you can get on their website. Type in “Applying for TANF Benefits in (Your State).” 
  • School Breakfast and Lunch Program–Most schools have free or low-cost breakfast and lunch programs for students. To see if you qualify for this program, click HERE
  • USDA Meals for Kids ProgramThis program helps feed kids during summer, holidays, or on weekends. It’s a national program, but food is delivered locally to families. Click HERE to find meals near you.

It’s so important to feed yourself and your family healthy food every day. You don’t have to go hungry when money is tight. These resources are here for you. If you need help or have questions, talk to your Crossover provider. Your conversation will remain just between you and your doctor. We are here to help. 


Accessing SNAP Benefits

Applying for SNAP


Facts About Food Assistance

Food assistance programs can help you buy healthy food for you and your family. Here are some facts to consider:

FACT: Food assistance is not a free handout. 

When you pay taxes, some of that money gets put into food programs. So when you need help, it’s there for you. 

FACT: There is no shame in using food assistance.

The money is put onto a debit card. You can use the card at most grocery stores. 

FACT: Food assistance programs help everyone.

When you spend the money you get in local grocery stores, it helps them, too. Those stores make money and are able to create jobs. 

FACT: Food assistance is there for everyone who needs it. 

If you get help, you aren’t taking it from someone else in need. There is enough to go around. Benefits are based on need, and are different for each household. 

FACT: Food assistance is for everyone.  

Help is available for men, women, and their families. It’s also for the elderly and for college students. WIC are for pregnant women and their children. They are also for fathers  with children under the age of five. 

FACT: Food assistance considers what else you have to pay for. 

The help you get is based on your home, medical, and other things you pay for.

FACT: Food assistance programs can be a temporary bridge. 

Food assistance benefits are designed to be used as long as you need them. Once you’re back on your feet, you stop using them. 

FACT: Food assistance is for people with or without jobs.

Food assistance adds money to your food budget. It helps people with jobs or without jobs. It’s for anyone who needs help providing healthy meals for their families or themselves. 

FACT: Food assistance programs are meant to make your life easier.

Having enough healthy food is an important and basic need. It’s okay to use the resources that are there to help.


Budget-Friendly Tips for Shopping and Eating Well

Buy in bulk 

Buying in bulk can be expensive at first, but saves money over time. Find recipes that use one thing (like chicken breasts) in a lot of different ways. You can double your favorite recipes and freeze half for later, too. Always check expiration dates so you don’t end up wasting food. 

Buy store brand food

Store brand or generic brand items are basically the same quality as name brand. Some store brand foods are even made by the same big companies. You don’t need to pay for the name.

Use what you have every week

You can repeat what you eat. Even having the same thing each day for a week at a time is okay. For example, eat yogurt every morning so you don’t waste the bulk package. Then the next week, add in eggs or whatever you have a lot of. 

Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season 

When there is a lot of something and it’s easy to get, it’s in season. That means it’s also cheaper. Here’s a guide for what’s in season when:

Buy local 

Buying from farmer’s markets and co-ops is less expensive. You’re also helping your local farmers when you buy from them directly. Some farmer’s markets will even double your WIC and SNAP benefits. Click HERE to see how to use your SNAP benefits at your local farmer’s market. 

Buy what you can keep longer

Fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables are all equally nutritious. But the prices vary. Fresh is more expensive and can go bad faster. Frozen and canned foods are cheaper, healthy, and last a long time. 

Buy eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein and aren’t too expensive. You can cook or bake with them or make them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Buy milk (but not other drinks)

Water is the best thing for your body. Packaged drinks can be expensive and have a lot of sugar in them. Save money by buying milk only. Think of ways to make water more tasty. You can add in small slices of citrus fruit or herbs to change the flavor. You can even freeze leftover herbs in water in an ice cube tray for a refreshing treat that lasts. 

Use your freezer

Your freezer is one of your most useful kitchen tools. You can freeze leftovers, milk, cheese, and meat. You can make your favorite recipes and freeze them so you always have meals ready. You can even defrost a bunch of small leftovers to make a “TV dinner” or a homemade buffet. 

Have a plan

Always make a grocery list and plan out your meals for the week in advance. This helps save time and money. Don’t forget to check what foods you have on hand and what specials are available at your local store. 

Meal Planning Worksheet

When meal planning, get the family to agree. Try to add in favorites along with new recipes. Buy and make what you know you or your family will eat to avoid waste. Stick to your list at the store so you don’t go over budget with little additions. 

Shop sales

Plan meals and grocery lists around what’s on sale or in season that week.

Most stores have free loyalty programs. Sign up and get extra coupons, discounts, and free items! 

Grow your own

Growing your own fruits and vegetables can help you save money. You don’t need a lot of space, either. Some herbs can be grown in small pots on a windowsill. These links can help:

Love or want to learn how to garden but don’t have the space to grow your own food? No problem! Find a community garden in your area.

 


Conversation on Money/Time Saving

Food Access and Hunger Explained

What does it look like when someone doesn’t have access to enough food? 

When someone doesn’t have access to enough food, it’s called food insecurity. It can also mean they don’t have enough healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Who is affected?

Anyone can be affected by food insecurity. Some people are more likely to be food insecure than others. Learn more in the Myths and Facts section. 

If I’m food insecure, does that mean I’ve failed or done something wrong?

Absolutely not. There are a lot of things that can lead to food insecurity. Some of these things are things you can’t control. Take a look at the section on Self Compassion and Food Access for more info.

If I’m food insecure, where can I get help?

You can get help in or near your community from food banks and pantries. These kinds of places have healthy food you can get for free. There are also national programs called SNAP, WIC, and TANF that can help. The Where to Get Help section can tell you more about how to get national benefits.

How can Crossover help me?

Facts and Myths about Food Access and Hunger

Facts About Hunger In America

What do you think of when you think of not having enough food? Maybe you think it’s something that only happens in other countries. Or maybe, for you, being hungry hits closer to home. Let’s take a look at some facts about hunger in America. 

Food Insecurity

When someone doesn’t have access to enough food, it’s called food insecurity. Being food insecure means someone doesn’t have enough food to live a healthy life. That can mean enough food in general, or certain types of food like fresh fruits and vegetables. When it’s severe, at least one person in a house reduces what they eat or skips meals. 

Food Insecurity Breakdown

According to the USDA, in 2019, 10.5% of households were food insecure. That might seem like a small number, but it translates into about 13.7 million households. It’s also important to note that there are some groups that are higher than the national average. Let’s take a look at who is affected:

Food Insecurity and Race

One out of every 5  in the Black or African American community may have experienced food insecurity in 2020 due to the pandemic, including 1 in 4 Black children. 

Nearly 20% of Latino children are at risk for hunger.

Within the Asian American community, Vietnamese households have the highest rate of food insecurity at nearly 16.5%. 

Food Insecurity and Children

Millions of families lost jobs and income because of COVID-19. That means that more than 42 million people (including 13 million children) may experience food insecurity. People across America, in every county,  go hungry every day. Children are at the highest risk. When children are hungry, they are more likely to be unhealthy. It’s also hard for them to do well in school.

Food Insecurity and Health

Eating healthy foods can help people stay well. This is true especially for people who have things like diabetes or high blood pressure. Food insecurity can make these conditions worse. It can also be bad for your heart or make you gain too much weight. Over the last 20 years, hunger among older people (aged 60+) has gone up a lot. Some older people have to either buy food or buy medicine. They don’t have enough money to buy both. There are a lot of older people who could get SNAP benefits but who aren’t signed up.  

Food Insecurity and Making Hard Choices 

Healthy food can be more expensive. People who are food insecure have to make hard choices, especially if they don’t have a lot of money. Some households have to choose between food and utilities, like heat or electricity. Over half of these people have to choose between food and medicine. Some have to decide whether to buy healthy food or pay for transportation or for school. Some have to sell items in their home for more money. Some may water down foods or drinks or purchase less costly unhealthy food. Others grow a garden so they don’t have to buy fresh fruits or vegetables. 

If you have to make hard choices like this, go to our Where to Get Help section. There is help available.


Myths and Facts about Hunger and Access to Food

MYTH: I can’t be food insecure because I have a job. 

FACT: Having a job doesn’t guarantee you have enough healthy food. Even if you work, your money might not stretch far enough.

MYTH: I can’t be food insecure because I don’t have a family or am single.

FACT: As seen in the section of facts about hunger and food insecurity, around 13% of women and men living alone lack access to enough food. 

MYTH: I can’t be food insecure because I live in a nice neighborhood.

FACT: There are hungry people in every neighborhood. You can learn more by viewing the map at https://map.feedingamerica.org/. Poor people don’t always have access to food, but people who aren’t poor can also go hungry. 

MYTH: I can’t be food insecure because I own a car or a house. 

FACT: You can own a car or a house and still go hungry. It depends on all kinds of other things including where else your money has to go. You might live in an expensive area where everything costs more. Or maybe you have a lot of medicine to buy or mouths to feed. 

MYTH: I can’t be food insecure because I’m overweight.

FACT: You can be overweight and still be food insecure. Food insecurity isn’t just not having enough food. It’s also when you don’t have enough of the right kinds of foods. Healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive or hard to find. You might be eating a lot of calories but not eating balanced meals. A balanced meal gives you vitamins, minerals, and fiber. 

I can’t be food insecure because ____ (fill in the blank).

There is no one way to become food insecure. And there is not one type of person or another that can avoid it. It can happen to anyone. In some cases it is a long-term situation. For others, it may be a temporary situation. Somebody can be food insecure during a time when they have a lot of other things to use their money for or if they lose a job. And when those things are paid, the food insecurity can go away. So, remember that even if you are food insecure now, it doesn’t have to last forever.

Self-Compassion and Food Access

How Crossover Can Help

Our Care Navigators can help you find food banks or pantries in your area. Our health coaches can talk to you about ways to get food more easily. They can also teach you how to build budget-friendly meals that are good for you.

You are not alone. We help our members with all aspects of their health.  Start a conversation with your care team today.

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Our website(s) uses cookies to distinguish you from other users of our website. This helps us to provide you with an exceptional experience when you browse our website(s) and also allows us to improve our site and serve personalized advertisements regarding services that may be of interest to you. By continuing to use the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.