The Census and Healthy Living

BY BEN COHEN
USC STUDENT VOLUNTEER

You may not realize it, but the US Census actually has a direct impact on how federal programs receive funding. What is the Census used for? How does it have an effect on healthy eating and active living? Why should all this matter? How can you do your part and complete the Census? With national census day quickly approaching on April 1st we here at Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC) would like to discuss how your participation in the 2020 Census will help to promote healthy eating and active living in your community.

What is the Census used for? The 2020 US Census will be used to determine how much funding over a hundred federal programs will receive. In 2015, there were 132 federally funded programs that used Census data to receive around $675 billion annually. These programs encompass all kinds of health and wellness initiatives, as well as public services and environmental projects.

How does the Census promote healthy eating and active living? Federal agencies such as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and the National School Lunch Program have funding determined by the Census. SNAP provides families who are financially struggling with monetary assistance to purchase healthy foods that they would not otherwise be able to afford. The National School Lunch Program provides free or reduced cost nutritious meals to school aged children. In addition to healthy eating, Census data also impacts active living by informing funding for parks, playgrounds and community centers.  These are just a few of the many ways programs dedicated to healthy eating and active living receive their funding based on the results of the Census.

Why should this matter to you? Once the Census is released, you will be able to directly see the impacts of it. Federal programs of all kinds will receive new funding amounts and will adapt accordingly.  If these programs are able to help encourage healthy lifestyles then our nation as a whole will be healthier.

How can you do your part? Now that you know how the Census can benefit you and your community, let’s talk about how you can fill it out. The Census is filled out online at www.My2020census.gov. At this point you should have received a letter in the mail that gives you a 12-digit ID number. Once you have that, it will only take around 10 or so minutes to complete. It is easy to do and provides a great benefit!

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