Put People First wants to place the issue of racial health disparities into the conversation of all candidates who claim they will represent New Orleanians equally. According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Minority Health Access (BMHA), there are several factors impacting the health disparity gap among racial and ethnic populations in our state. Two major health risks are obesity and mental health issues. These, among other factors, spring from the accumulation of social disadvantages such as limited access to health care facilities, transportation to reach those facilities, environmental exposures, and the overshadowing effect of entrenched racism.

These notable health and social inequalities are drivers of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. All of these—and others such as breast, lung and colon cancer—are in some cases either highly preventable or can be brought under control with better diets and information.

Behavioral risk factors are developed early in life and can lead to early death due to causes stemming from physical inactivity, smoking, and skipping health screenings for breast cancer, venereal and pneumococcal disease.

An added burden to racial health disparities is food insecurity. In a city that’s world-renown for its culinary excellence, one in five New Orleanians is food insecure and one in four receives benefits from federal nutrition programs.

The problem of hunger can be traced to the fact that 29 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes are rural. Unreliable transportation, limited job opportunities, and unemployment all contribute to the lack of access to healthy food.

Food insecurity does not need to persist in our city. There are effective ways to propel food recovery, and these efforts must be coupled with fresh ideas on how to tackle racial health disparities. We invite you to join us as we work to encourage political leaders to champion these causes which affect our most vulnerable citizens.