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Eating the right foods could help protect Flint kids from lead

Groceries, including milk, eggs and produce, sitting on a counter.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Officials display the healthy food low income parents could buy through the pilot program.

Peanut butter and banana pockets. Chocolate strawberry French toast.

Those are a few of the recipes in Hurley Medical Center’snutrition guidebook for Flint families dealing with lead.

Right now there’s a big push to get healthy food to Flint kids, because the right diet (iron, calcium, lots of Vitamin C) can actually reduce the effects of lead on the body.

But in a city where poverty and food access are already major problems, figuring out how to help isn’t easy.

"It's very difficult, in the midst of receiving truck loads of water, to break through and get the message out that the nutritional interventions are best right now," says Ann Marie Van Duyne of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. 

But she says without a good system in place, they don't want donors to just start bringing massive amounts of food to Flint. 

"We've kind of envisioned conversations where we'd say, ‘Don't bring any more oranges or peanut butter,’” she laughs. "Because these are the food items that will be encouraged, but the storage and distribution system of receiving hard food donations – the spoilage and all of that – could become another community issue that we definitely want to avoid." 

She says they're trying to figure out more effective ways of getting good food to kids.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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