On March 9, 2022, Youth Advisory Council (YAC) member Seham sat on a panel in front of more than 120 people in the annual CalFresh forum hosted by Nourish California. The CalFresh forum brings together hundreds of key stakeholders from across the state to identify opportunities and discuss strategies to improve the reach and impact of CalFresh.
Seham spoke about food insecurity among youth, the struggle to find culturally appropriate food, and the importance of equitable healthy food access. Seham concluded with a call to action in support of the Food4All campaign. Read Seham’s full statement below:
“My name is Seham Aden and I am a part of the UCSD youth advisory council and I’ll be talking about food insecurities. Some of the things that we take for granted in our everyday life are the meals that we have on a daily basis. Some of us consume whole meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between and more to spare. However, a unique struggle to the city heights area which is occupied by a large immigrant community is the lack of healthy foods and access to foods. This makes it hard for people to have such meals in a day that we take for granted. Students with families that are faced with food insecurities lack access to food and healthy meals, which affects their cognitive ability to focus during class and overall wellness. A lot of immigrants that come to the United States struggle with access to groceries that reflect their culture Cuisines which in turn leaves them with an inability to create home cooked meals that are second nature to them. Additionally the food landscape in their area lacks healthy food options which leaves them with an inability to discover or create healthy well balanced meals. This is also due to lack of basic nutritional education. Also immigrants that arrive here often leave an active lifestyle for a more sedentary lifestyle that increases their likelihood for diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Food4all will assist in addressing these challenges by providing food access to immigrant families therefore allowing students the ability to consume healthy meals and reach their nutritional needs to give them a healthy mind, body and soul. You know, actually I remember once where my friend was grabbing extra apples and oranges and putting it in his backpack, I asked him why he was doing this and he replied and said his working single mother would be home late at night. You never know how many students struggle with this because the struggle doesn’t come with a certain look.”