By: Tanisha Shelton
Imagine this: you are sitting at your desk at work when your stomach starts growling. You didn’t have time to eat breakfast. Because of this, your blood sugar has dropped, and you are having a hard time focusing and staying awake at work. However, you do have access to nutritious food and stable housing. Many people have experienced nutritional deficits at one time or another during their day to day lives, but people who experience nutritional deficits on a more continuous basis are those experiencing homelessness. There is a strong connection between experiencing homelessness and suffering from poor nutrition. This article will focus on how malnutrition is related to experiencing homelessness and what can be done to help mitigate this problem.
For those who experience homelessness, they prioritize finding a safe place to sleep at night, which is more important than finding food. People experiencing homelessness have to eat whatever food that they can without thinking about how beneficial that food is to their health. For many people experiencing homelessness, they also have little to no money, so they have to find foods that they can afford. If the financial circumstances of homeless individuals were to change, 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 [with] no substance” (Support Cause Inspired Media 2019). People experiencing homelessness inadvertently prioritize feeling full over feeling healthful, which leads to them being malnourished.
Another way that people experiencing homelessness have different priorities is that when they buy food, they focus on getting food that is easy to tote around and eat since they frequently move from place to place. Eating and buying “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” (Support Cause Inspired Media 2019). There are more things involved with having nutritious food to eat than just finding food itself; people experiencing homelessness also need to find practical ways to open, store, and warm up things that they find. As a result, people experiencing homelessness are malnourished since they also need to focus on ways to be practical because they usually move around a lot.
To conclude, people who experience homelessness don’t have easy access to foods that are good for their bodies because of different priorities, which are caused by how the system is set up; healthier foods tend to cost more than foods that are detrimental to health. Not having access to nutritious foods can, later on, cause health problems for those experiencing homelessness. However, there are steps that can be taken to help alleviate some of these risks. Different places can leave out healthy and nutritious snacks for the public to take, and more community kitchens can open up to provide healthy, free meals to those who are experiencing homelessness. Both of these aspects are some of the essential ways of mitigating the experience of hunger and malnourishment amongst the community that experiences homelessness.
Support Cause Inspired Media. “Challenges of Proper Nutrition While Homeless.” Hearts for the Homeless, 23 Jul. 2019, https://heartsforthehomeless.org/challenges-of-proper-nutrition/. Accessed 1 Feb. 2022.
Challenges of Proper Nutrition While Homeless - Hearts for the Homeless