- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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Food insecurity still a problem for many
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
America might be the bread basket of the world, but many Americans are hungry. Many families are coping with food insecurity, which means they are unable to acquire or are uncertain of having enough food to meet their needs because of insufficient money or other resources. The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on household food security paints a sobering picture:
- Almost 15 percent (17.6 million) of U.S. households were food insecure during 2012.
- Of these, 8.8 percent (10.7 million) of households had low food security, which means they must use coping strategies, such as eating less varied diets, participating in federal food assistance programs or relying on emergency food from community food pantries, to meet their food needs.
- In food-insecure households, 5.7 percent (7.0 million) had very low food security. Very low food security means food intake was disrupted and food intake was reduced because of limited resources — typically, for at least several days during 7 months of last year.
- Ten percent of households (3.9 million) were unable to provide adequate nutritious food for their children.
- An estimated 38 percent of households with very low food security included an adult with disability, such as being unable to work.
What is even more sobering is that the prevalence of food insecurity has remained unchanged — and at record levels — since 2007.
This resonates with me. I grew up with depression-era parents who experienced food insecurity. My father told me about growing up in a dirt-floor log cabin without running water. More often than not, their cupboards were bare. I also had a disabled brother who was unable to physically shop for and prepare meals and thus needed to rely on me and others for help. I was a preteen when the "War on Poverty" was declared in 1964 in the U.S.
Many causes contribute to poverty and hunger, including lack of jobs, lack of education, crime, broken families and disability. Federal programs to fight poverty include Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act, as well as food programs including Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
One can argue the pros and cons of a top-down government approach to solving hunger, but I don't want to get into the politics. Instead, I'd like to focus on what we can all to do to fight hunger. Here are a few simple steps you and I can take:
- Know your neighbor. Reach out to those around you who might be in need.
- Donate food whenever you shop. Many grocery stores put out collection bins — as do churches, workplaces and schools.
- Give money to food banks. Even small amounts go a long way.
- Volunteer your time. Sign up to make dinners at homeless shelters or senior centers, or deliver meals on wheels.
- Garden and donate. Give part of your harvest to your local food bank. If you don't have a garden, volunteer to help with a community plot dedicated to fighting hunger.
When you get beyond just thinking about the problem and begin actually doing something about it you can make a difference. You can start by adding your own suggestions to the list above.
There are many ways to fight hunger — please get involved.
- Household food security in the United States in 2012. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err155.aspx. Accessed Oct. 2, 2013.
- Food security in the U.S.: Key statistics and graphics. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx. Accessed Oct. 2, 2013.
- Disability is an important risk factor for food insecurity. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2013-may/disability-is-an-important-risk-factor-for-food-insecurity.aspx. Accessed Oct. 2, 2013.
- Household food security in the United States in 2012 — report summary. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err155.aspx. Accessed Oct. 2, 2013.
- 7 top hunger organizations: The organizations fighting food insecurity worldwide. Food & Nutrition Magazine. http://www.foodandnutrition.org/September-October-2013/7-Top-Hunger-Organizations. Accessed Oct. 2, 2013.