By Susan Blumenthal, M.D. and Katherine Perez
While the holiday season is a time of celebration and family feasts, it is also a time to remember that 1 in 7 Americans lacks access to affordable, nutritious food, and 71 percent of adults and 33 percent of children are overweight or obese. These public health problems are particularly pronounced among low-income Americans. The Health Policy Program at New America today launched a redesigned snaptohealth.org website, a virtual town hall that provides information on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a vital Federal food assistance program that serves 46 million Americans, many of whom are struggling with obesity as well as food insecurity. Additionally, the website now includes resources on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that serves 8 million mothers, infants and children under the age of five.
Snaptohealth.org is a one-stop-shop for a wealth of information and interactive tools on SNAP and WIC including the latest nutrition news, helpful blog posts, recipes, discussion forums, policy reports, and links to thousands of nutrition resources. The portal is an important source of information for SNAP and WIC stakeholders and beneficiaries, facilitates discussion for the continued improvement of the programs, and provides recommendations for policymakers, businesses, and public health professionals to improve nutrition and reduce obesity among SNAP and WIC recipients.
The redesigned website is mobile and tablet compatible to help better reach low-income populations who overwhelmingly access the Internet via mobile devices. According to the Pew Research Center, 84 percent of low-income adults have access to a mobile phone and 1 in 3 mobile phone owners have used their phone to look up health information. Fifteen percent of Americans report that their only method of accessing the Internet is with their cell phone. With over 72 percent of Americans seeking health related information online within the past year, the SNAP to Health website’s updated mobile and tablet compatibility will provide increased access to vital nutrition information and resources to more low-income Americans.
In the 21st century, cutting-edge information technology solutions to help address America’s public health problems are within our reach. This site will help to identify and disseminate evidence-based strategies to promote healthy nutrition and foster discussion, collaboration and innovation among those working to improve health, reduce food insecurity, and prevent obesity in the United States.
The holiday season is a time of giving and helping those in need. Visit the SNAP to Health website at www.snaptohealth.org to learn how you can contribute to preventing hunger in your community and in our country. View the program’s brochure for more information and distribute it to friends and organizations so that they can help improve the health of low-income Americans in the new year.
Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.A. (ret.) is the Public Health Editor of the Huffington Post. She is also a Clinical Professor at Tufts and Georgetown Schools of Medicine, a Senior Fellow in Health Policy at New America and Senior Policy and Medical Advisor at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. Admiral Blumenthal served for more than 20 years in senior health leadership positions in the Federal government in the Administrations of four U.S. Presidents including as Assistant Surgeon General of the United States, the first Deputy Assistant Secretary of Women’s Health, and as Senior Global Health Advisor in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also served as a White House Advisor on health. Prior to these positions, Dr. Blumenthal was Chief of the Behavioral Medicine and Basic Prevention Research Branch and Chair of the Health and Behavior Coordinating Committee at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She has chaired many national and global commissions and conferences and is the author of many scientific publications. Admiral Blumenthal has received numerous awards including honorary doctorates and has been decorated with the highest medals of the U.S. Public Health Service for her pioneering leadership and significant contributions to advancing health in the United States and worldwide. Named by the New York Times, the National Library of Medicine and the Medical Herald as one of the most influential women in medicine, Dr. Blumenthal was named the 2009 Health Leader of the Year by the Commissioned Officers Association and as a Rock Star of Science by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation. She is the recipient of the Rosalind Franklin Centennial Life in Discovery Award.
Katherine Perez graduated with Honors from Princeton University in 2016 with a degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and minors in Global Health Policy and African Studies. She has previously interned at The Public Health Foundation of India in New Delhi, India, where she worked on vaccine cold chain logistics, and at The Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where she studied the etiology of emerging viral infections. Her senior thesis at Princeton examined the economic and societal impacts of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and integrated economic, historical and anthropological analysis in order to critically assess existent health policies to offer recommendations for addressing future outbreaks of infectious disease on both a national and a global scale. Katherine currently serves as a Health Policy Intern at New America in Washington, D.C.