Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Has better food gotten its foot in the door at Loaves & Fishes?

Fruits and vegetables!
I’m told that Loaves & Fishes intends to change things such that its small dining room will be serving vegetarian and healthful meals, leaving just the much larger dining hall to serve the usual fare.

There are two adjacent dining spaces for homeless people at the Loaves & Fishes Mall of Services: with the ‘regular’ dining room being about three times bigger than the ‘small’ dining room. A third dining room is used for staff only. The staff and homeless don’t eat together, which is contrary to what Jesus taught, but, then, we’re talking about Loaves & Fishes.

Can it be that Libby Fernandez, L&F CEO, is knuckling under to outside pressure to stop serving quite so very much that is empty calories and quite so little that is nutritious? Hooray if it is past donors who are balking at supporting the nonprofit unless it starts to behave better toward those it is tasked to aid.

The heavy amounts of sugar and salt in what Loaves & Fishes serves, and the lack of sufficient servings of healthful vegetables, has been a complaint of homeless denizens at the L&F Mall of services and of this blog [See "Vegetables and fruit matter"; "Why homeless people don't have a healthy diet"; "A close look at Loaves & Fishes' recently released public-disclosure document" and "Staffing change in L&F kitchen"]. Sugar is the prime culprit of a rise in the number of those suffering from diabetes. Salt is greatly overmuch consumed in Americans, causing high blood pressure and dire health consequences that result. And, of course, substantive vegetables provide vital nutritional benefits.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, as many as one-third of adult Americans could develop diabetes in the next thirty years.

Already, diabetes is the leading cause in the rise of healthcare costs and the seventh leading cause of death. It is also the leading cause of blindness among adults under the age of 75. Even on top of the horror of all that, diabetes is the source of much other misery.

Eating too much sodium, a key component of salt, can contribute to high blood pressure, a major risk for most people as they age because it can lead to heart disease and other health problems.

Substantive vegetables — that is, not just lettuce which is often the only vegetable in an L&F meal — and 'vegetables in variety' provide a wealth of nutritional benefits. Many homeless people, and others who are poor, are dependent on Loaves & Fishes for sustenance. If their diet is out-of-whack, it can add greatly to their woes.

Another problem with meals at Loaves & Fishes is the large volume of food that gets heaped on a diner’s tray! While the diner, his or her-self, can refuse or limit helpings and consume less than what is given, the portions are prodigious and L&F is surely a prime cause as to why homeless Sacramentans are so hefty.

It is known that restaurants in many European countries have, generally, much smaller portions than what Americans are accustomed to in our restaurants. Eating fewer calories, while getting adequate vitamins, minerals and nutrients, is the best diet for most people. It’s called calorie restriction, or CR.

If it’s doable at Loaves & Fishes, and it should be, it would be benefitial for homeless Sacramentans to eat fewer empty calories, substituted in part by more of what is healthful. It would help homeless folk feel better, avoid some diseases, and live longer and happier lives.

[ Note that this blogger was 86ed from Loaves & Fishes 20 hours after a kindly letter I sent to Libby Fernandez and the L&F Board about the facility's meals and my hopes that maybe they could be better. ]

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