Food Check-Out Week Seeks To Stretch Food Dollar
With the recession hitting the pocketbooks of most families, the Alabama Farmers Federation and American Farm Bureau Federation are distributing information aimed at “Stretching Your Grocery Dollar With Healthy, Nutritious Food” as part of Food Check-Out Week, Feb. 15-21.”With many Americans feeling an economic squeeze, they may be eating out less and preparing more meals at home,” said Kim Earwood, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Women’s Division. “So, it’s more important than ever to give them tools to be smart shoppers who buy healthy foods that fit within a budget.”Food Check-Out Week commemorates the time of year when the average American has earned enough income to pay for their entire year’s food supply. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Tax Foundation, it takes just 35 workdays for Americans to buy their food for a year, but it takes 74 days to pay federal taxes.For this year’s Food Check-Out Week, the American Farm Bureau Federation has designed a series of nutrition fact cards and posters based on the USDA’s nutrition education program and Web site, www.MyPyramid.com. These informational materials address a variety of topics including: Tips for Better Nutrition on a Tight Budget; Understanding Food Labels; How Much Should I Eat?; and Understanding What My Pyramid Means.In addition to the educational component of Food Check-Out Week, Earwood said farmers in Alabama and across the country use the celebration as a time to help those less fortunate.”The State Women’s Committee is promoting Food Check-Out week by encouraging counties to collect non-perishable food items and/or monetary donations for the Ronald McDonald House Charities or a local food bank or charity in their county,” Earwood said.Ronald McDonald House began in 1974 when the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team joined forces with the McDonald’s restaurant chain to provide a “home-away-from-home” for families of seriously ill children. Today, there are 271 Ronald McDonald Houses in 30 countries. In Alabama, the Farmers Federation’s Women’s Division supports the charity throughout the year by collecting food and aluminum can pull tabs, but the ladies place a special emphasis on fund raising during Food Check-Out Week.Although food prices increased during 2008, Farm Bureau economists point out that Americans still spent 19 percent less of their disposable income on food than in 1974. Furthermore, an average market basket actually costs less than two decades ago, when prices are adjusted for inflation.Still, public health experts fear that lean economic times may mean an already-overweight public may resort to purchasing cheaper, high-calorie foods, which can lack important nutrients.The Food Check-Out Week campaign hopes to provide families an alternative by educating them about smart nutrition and budgeting.Tips for smart food shopping include: stick to your list, read food labels and don’t buy unless it will be eaten. Farm Bureau also advises shoppers to compare prices of different brands and sizes by using cost-per-unit shelf stickers.For more information about Food Check-Out Week, visit www.AlfaFarmers.org. To support the Ronald McDonald House Charities, visit www.rmhc.com.