Tag Archives: health

ACTION ALERT! Support Urban Agriculture in Worcester!

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We Help Make Change in Your Local Food System!

For the past 3 years, we have been working with the City of Worcester on a zoning ordinance that would allow commercial farming in the City of Worcester.

Over the past year, the process has been stalled and community advocates have no longer been included in the development of the policy, or in the process for bringing it to the community.

We asked some of our key partners to start making phone calls to City Hall, and as a result Councilor Rivera asked for the Urban Agriculture Ordinance to be on the agenda at TONIGHT’s City Council meeting – Tuesday, January 31, at 7 p.m.

WE NEED YOU TO COME SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!

How can you do that?

1. Come to Worcester City Hall, 3rd floor for the meeting TONIGHT, Tuesday, January 31 at 7 pm. Bring a sign if you want! Having extra people in the room shows a lot of support!

2. Come and speak at City Council. Are you an aspiring small farmer? Are you a beekeeper? Are you an avid gardener that might like to sell some of what you grow? Come and share your story! You WILL make a difference!

3. If you can’t come but have something to say, send an email … we can read your remarks. Don’t forget to include your zip code as a City resident.

4. If you can’t come, call your City Councilor and let them know your interest in and support of the ordinance and that you won’t be able to attend the meeting in person, but that you’re supportive.

GET INVOLVED TODAY!

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Holiday helpers – always in style! … From the American Cancer Society

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Road To Recovery Program Offers Free Rides For Cancer Patients and Flexible, Rewarding Volunteer Opportunity For Drivers

American Cancer Society Seeks Volunteer Drivers In Massachusetts This Holiday Season

Volunteering for a cause you believe in should be a rewarding experience for you, your family and your community, not another chore added to your already packed to-do list.

The American Cancer Society in Massachusetts this holiday season is asking residents all over the state to consider lending their time to the Road To Recovery program, which provides free rides to anyone going to cancer treatment appointments.

The flexibility of the commitment and easy online scheduling of rides accommodates drivers from all backgrounds, but the satisfaction of connecting cancer patients with life-saving treatments is the real benefit, many say.

“Road To Recovery gives drivers like me a chance to help patients get to vital appointments,” said Roger Medeiros, of Braintree, who began volunteering with Road To Recovery nearly 10 years ago, soon after he lost his wife to cancer. “I’m retired, so I don’t care about the time or distance, and it really helps me feel useful. Everyone is so appreciative of the rides.”

Volunteer drivers with Road To Recovery donate their time and use of their vehicles and sometimes provide encouragement and support.

Passengers may not own a car, can’t afford the extra gasoline or may be unable or too ill to drive.

They might not have access to public transportation or have no family members or friends who are able to postpone work or other activities to drive them.

In Massachusetts last year the Road To Recovery program provided 6,209 rides to 384 patients, but hundreds more ride requests went unmet because of a lack of volunteer drivers.

“I spoke with a man once who was paying for taxis from his home in Wareham to his treatments in Brockton,” said Medeiros, who also volunteers at the American Cancer Society’s Framingham office. “One woman I drove had previously taken public transportation from Fall River into Boston for her appointments; getting there was OK, but coming home was difficult because she was exhausted.”

It is estimated approximately 37,000 Bay State residents will be newly diagnosed with cancer this year, and getting to their scheduled treatment will be their greatest concern.

To volunteer, you must have a valid driver’s license, a safe and reliable vehicle and proof of automobile insurance. Drivers must be 18 years of age or older and have a good driving history. They arrange their own schedules and can commit as many or as few hours as their schedule allows. The American Cancer Society provides free training to drivers and conducts criminal background and driving record checks.

To learn more about becoming a Road To Recovery volunteer visit www.Cancer.org/volunteer.

Nov. 8 Vote YES ON QUESTION 3

This election – Nov. 8 – please VOTE YES ON QUESTION 3!!!!

Really, it’s modest farm animal protection! No one is asking anyone to go vegan! We want to alleviate some of the suffering of pigs, veal calves, chickens. And make our food safer…and help our planet.

Below, we’ve made some sentences bold.

– Rosalie Tirella

But first, “Sir Paul,” for the animals:

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By Citizens for Farm Animals

Residents of the Commonwealth have shown time and time again that we support commonsense protections for animals, the environment, and food safety.

November 8 Massachusetts voters will
have the opportunity to vote YES! on Question 3 to implement a modest animal protection reform.

Question 3 will prevent farm animals from being crammed into cages so small they can’t even turn around or extend their limbs, will improve food safety, and will support family farmers.

A YES! vote on Question 3 will also ensure that certain food items sold in the Commonwealth are compliant with these modest standards.

Major companies like Walmart and McDonald’s are already making similar improvements.

Question 3 Prohibits Cruel Confinement of Farm Animals

Vote YES! on Question 3 to prevent animal cruelty: Within days or even hours of birth, calves raised for
veal are often chained by their necks in crates too narrow to turn around or lie down comfortably.
The crates essentially immobilize these playful, energetic creatures, preventing them from engaging in almost any natural behaviors.

This lack of movement inhibits natural muscle development, often to such an extent that the calves are unable to walk to slaughter.

Vote YES! on Question 3 to prevent animal cruelty: Pigs are highly social and intelligent animals.

For years, female pigs used for breeding are confined in crates only two feet wide — so small the animals can’t even turn around or take more than a step forward or backward.

This extreme immobilization atrophies the pigs’muscles and bones. Since these inquisitive animals are denied mental stimulation, many become neurotic
and exhibit coping behaviors, such as repetitive biting of the bars in front of them.

Vote YES! on Question 3 to prevent animal cruelty: On many egg factory farms, hens are crammed into cages so small the birds can’t even spread their wings.

Packed five or more to a cage, each hen is forced to spend her whole life in a meager amount of space that’s smaller than an iPad. Virtually unable to move, the hens can’t engage in almost any of their natural behaviors, such as perching, nesting, foraging or even
walking more than a few steps.

In cages, chickens may suffer from bone fractures, feather-loss, and metabolic disease; some hens even become caught in the wire and die of starvation, unable to reach the food or water just inches away from them.

Question 3 Establishes Modest Standards
Vote YES! on Question 3 to ensure that substandard, inhumane, and unsafe products from these cruel confinement systems aren’t sold in our Commonwealth.

Question 3 Improves Human Health and Food Safety

Vote YES! on Question 3 to help keep our food supply safe. Industrial animal operations put our health at risk: cramming tens of thousands of animals into tiny cages promotes the spread of diseases.

The Center for Food Safety endorses this measure because numerous studies show that egg operations that confine hens in cages have higher rates of Salmonella, the leading cause of food poisoning-related death in America.

Animals kept in extreme confinement often live in their own waste and are pumped full of drugs that can
taint the food we eat.

Vote YES! on Question 3 on November 8, 2016

Protect animals and our families’ food supply!

To learn more visit: http://www.citizensforfarmanimals.com/resources!

Get involved to help farm animals!

THANK YOU!

In my opinion: NO ON QUESTION 4

By Steven R. Maher

Americans are constantly being told that their country is deeply divided and the main political parties cannot work together. Yet an impressive bi-partisan coalition of state officer holders and professional groups has assembled to oppose referendum Question 4, to legalize marijuana.

Among the elected officials opposing Question 4: Governor Charlie Baker (R), Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D), Attorney General Maura Healey (D), and Speaker Robert DeLeo (D). A majority in both branches of the state legislature – 97 lawmakers and 22 senators – went on record in August 2016 as opposing Question 4.

The law enforcement and medical groups opposing the referendum question include all Massachusetts District Attorneys, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association, Massachusetts Medical Society, the Association of School Superintendents, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, and the National Association of Mental Illness (Massachusetts Chapter).

“This law was written to benefit the commercial marijuana industry, will introduce an entirely new pot edibles market, and will harm our families and communities,” charges opponents on www.SafeAndHealthyMA.com, a website urging a no vote. This group claims the following about existing laws and what the new law would bring:

• “Massachusetts has already decriminalized marijuana possession and authorized medical marijuana. People are not being jailed for marijuana use, and have access to it for health reasons. This ballot question is about allowing the national marijuana industry to come into Massachusetts and market and sell marijuana products in our communities.

• “It [legalization] incorporates the laxest ‘home grow’ provision in the country, allowing individual households to grow up to 12 marijuana plants at a value in the tens of thousands of dollars. This provision will have a significant impact on public safety, and has led to the creation of an entirely new black market in Colorado.

• “It specifically authorizes marijuana edibles (products like candy bars and gummy bears), oils and concentrates.

•The new statute “specifically limits communities’ ability to restrict the locations and growth of pot shops. Two years into legalization, Colorado has more marijuana stores than Starbucks and McDonalds combined—and the numbers keep growing.

•”Today’s Marijuana is much more potent than it was even a generation ago. Marijuana for sale in Colorado averages 17% to 18% THC, which is several times more potent than was common in the 1980s.

• “Since becoming the first state to legalize, Colorado has also become the #1 state in the nation for teen marijuana use. Use by teens aged 12-17 jumped by over 12% in the two years since legalization, even as that rate declined nationally.

• “Commercial legalization has led to more fatal car crashes. In Washington, the number of fatal car crashes involving marijuana doubled in the one year since legalization.

• “The marijuana edibles market is dangerous for kids, and a huge part of the commercial industry’s profit model. Marijuana infused products such as candies, cookies, and ‘cannabis cola’ account for nearly 50% of the sales in Colorado, and that number is growing. These products are often indistinguishable from traditional products and attractive to children, placing them at significant risk of accidental use.”

Group favors legalization

The group favoring legalization, www.regulatemass.com, relies less on statistics to make their point. They make some questionable arguments, including the following:

• “[O]piate addiction is causing the real drug crisis in Massachusetts. And there’s a reasonable way to slow the epidemic down: legalizing and regulating marijuana. By avoiding opiates, reducing painful addiction, and protecting families, patients can use marijuana to prevent hitting rock bottom.

• “Marijuana cases cost taxpayers by clogging our legal system.

• “Marijuana arrests ruin lives. Too often young people and people of color can’t find a job or take care of their families because they have a petty arrest record for possessing marijuana.

• “Marijuana is here, no increased police presence is going to change that.

• Unnamed experts “say that taxing marijuana sales will create $100 million in new tax revenue for vital essential services in our communities. We can use the money to strengthen our schools — smaller classes, more books, and newer technology for our children.

• “People of color are 3x more likely to be arrested. Instead of keeping us safe, the “War on Drugs” has ruined the lives of countless people. In Massachusetts, people of color are three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession — a problem that has been getting worse, not better.”

The first quote above – that an acceptable way to treat heroin addicts is to get them stoned on marijuana – has to be the most ludicrous argument made by either side on Question 4.
Dollars and gateway drug

What would be the fiscal impact of legalizing cannabis?

Those favoring legalization claim the state would have tax windfall of $100 million if Question 4 passes. However, the “2016 Ballot Questions” guide sent out by the Secretary of State’s office stated: “A March 2016 report from the Special Select Committee on Marijuana concluded as follows: ‘Tax revenues and fees that would be generated from legal sales may fall short of even covering the full public and social costs (including regulation, enforcement, public health and safety, and substance abuse treatment.’)” This reminds one of the dispute over casino gambling, which Worcester wisely rejected because the human costs were thought to exceed the benefits to the community.

This leaves one final question: with an opioid crisis raging, should a narcotic substance seen by some as a gateway to hard core drug addiction be legalized? That question was answered in the daily by Spectrum Health Service President Charles J. Farris. “We know that not everybody who smokes marijuana is going to go out and become an addict,” Farris said. “But every addict we know that’s come in here started out by smoking marijuana. Who’s going to take the chance that they’re not going to be the one to go on to other things?”

Main South and the Worcester East Middle neighborhoods – always in style! TODAY!

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(There’s also the REC FARMERS MARKET HERE, in the park – Saturday mornings!) pic: R.T.

ZUMBA CLASS! ZUMBA in Crystal Park (aka University Park – across from Clark University)! TODAY! FREE!

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Rosalie’s flowers “chilling” on her kitchen window sill this autumn day – Sept. 15. pic:R.T.

Community Unity Event
and Resource Fair!!!

TODAY!! Thursday September 15

5 pm – 7 pm

Mulcahy Field (right next to East Middle)

158 Dorchester St.

Parents for a Better Worcester and
Families of the Worcester East Middle Neighborhood
Invite you to:

A ‘Community Unity’ Event
And Resource Fair!

We are Working to Make Our Community Safer!

Come and be part of the solution and
Find out What We All Can Do!

Together We Can Make A Difference!

There will be a Resource Fair in the Cafeteria of Worcester East Middle School right after the program with information on:

After-school programs!

Crime watches!

Youth programs!

Thursday September 15th, 5-7pm
at Mulcahy Field (right next to East Middle)
158 Dorchester Street, Worcester

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Lilac says, WORCESTER DOG PARK PUBLIC HEARING TONIGHT, CITY HALL! BE THERE! VOTE FOR THE DOGS!! pic:R.T.

Worcester community news you can use!

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The Family Health Center fair drew hundreds of folks to the Piedmont neighborhood! photos: R.T.

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Kids!!! TODAY!!!!! YAY!!!!

FREE!!!

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We are happy to announce that we are holding free Boston Bruins Alumni Street Hockey Clinics Wednesday August 17 and 24 from 6pm-8pm at the Buffone Rink (Parking Lot).

There is no need to pre-register.

Come out and meet the Bruins Alumni, get a free Bruins Alumni T-shirt and have fun!

Founded by US Olympian and NHL veteran David A. Jensen in 2012, DAJ Hockey is New England’s premier on-ice/off-ice hockey skills training company. DAJ features on-ice hockey skills programs via Boston Bruins Alumni Camps and off-ice skills training at the high-tech DAJ Skills Centers in Foxboro and Attleboro, MA. DAJ also manages street hockey and floorball clinics, camps and leagues throughout New England.

DAJ’s “Hockey in the Streets” program brings the joy of hockey to urban children, who may otherwise not get the opportunity to play the sport!

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Worcester Bands Together To Fight Substance Use!

Upcoming Events Promote Recovery and Healing!

Over the past several years, August and September have been the worst months for opioid-related overdoses in our community and beyond.

In 2014, there was a significant increase in the number of opioid related deaths during the end of the summer.

Since then, the City of Worcester, the Department of Health and Human Services, and our community partners have partnered to respond to the national opioid epidemic – equipping all first responders with life-saving Narcan; training non-emergency city personnel on the use of Narcan; collecting hundreds of pounds of unused prescriptions; instituting the first-ever needle exchange program with AIDS Project Worcester; conducting training for medical professionals on the dangers of overprescribing pain medication; and working to alert the public to the dangers of addiction.

The City of Worcester continues to collect unused prescription drugs at a dropbox at Worcester Police Department Headquarters and at all neighborhood watch meetings.

“Battling the opioid epidemic is a top priority for the city, and it’s a battle we intend to win,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “From responding to overdoses, public education about addiction and recovery, From prevention to treatment to recovery, the City and our community partners are going all-in to fight this epidemic.”

Overdose Recognition and Response Training

The Worcester Police Department will offer free training for the public on how to recognize and intervene during an opioid overdose using nasal Narcan.

This training event will take place at 5:30 p.m. August 23 at the Worcester Public Library.

Worcester DPH encourages health care providers, substance abuse treatment service providers, first responders, and the public to exercise increased vigilance in promptly identifying suspected overdose victims and taking appropriate action.

The Good Samaritan Law provides protection to people who respond to an overdose and call 911.

The law is intended to encourage people to report drug overdoses as soon as possible, even if drugs are present at the scene.

AIDS Project Worcester’s Overdose Prevention and Narcan distribution program provides free Narcan to those who are likely to witness an overdose.

Learn to Cope, which has a chapter in Worcester, also provides free Narcan to family members of those with a substance use disorder.
Narcan is also available for purchase at CVS and Walgreen’s Pharmacies in the City of Worcester.

Overdose Awareness Day with a Candlelight Vigil:

The Worcester Department of Health and Human Services, along with our community partners will honor International Overdose Awareness Day, with a candlelight vigil and an addiction and recovery awareness campaign at 5:30 p.m. August 31 at the Worcester Common.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. There will be an opportunity for people to receive information and referral to services for addiction and recovery.

The event will provide an opportunity for the public to express sorrow while also raising awareness on the actions needed to provide more services for recovery and improve understanding of the opioid abuse epidemic.

Participation is free.

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Get yourself outdoors – to one of the many beautiful Worcester parks/green spaces…

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Every 3 1/2 hours, someone dies in a house fire.

With the goal of reducing home-fire related fatalities by 25%, the American Red Cross is installing free smoke alarms in residential homes across the nation.

In Massachusetts, the Red Cross will install up to 2 photo-electric and one dual (photoelectric and ionization) smoke alarms, as well as one carbon monoxide detector.

If you are a Massachusetts resident and would like to request a free smoke alarm installation, please call 1-800-746-3511**

* Southeast Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands are experiencing a significant backlog

**please self-identify as a military attached household if applicable (military, military family member, National Guard, veteran)

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The Worcester Public Library Presents
The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program with Rick Morin

Thursday, August 18

2 p.m.

The Worcester Public Library will be hosting the Rick Morin and The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program on Thursday, August 18 at 2:00 p.m. as part of the Summer Reading Program 2016.

The interactive drumming program will be held in the Children’s Room at the Worcester Public Library, and is free and recommended for children ages 5-12.

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Go, lil’ drummer girl, go!!!

About The Rhythm Room:
The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program by Rick Morin explores world music as it relates to today’s pop culture, combining discussion, demonstration and participation. The use of world percussion, drum set, buckets and exploring percussion from objects and one’s own body (clapping, stomping, etc.) is educational as well as motivational and fun. Rick will explain the execution of hand motion to bring out the proper voice of each drum and demonstrate how a percussionist can tell a story with rhythm and theatrical flair.

About Rick Morin:
Rick Morin is the creator and director of the The Rhythm Room, an all-original ten member band. He also developed The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program. Morin is a freelance drummer/percussionist. In 2006 he was awarded the Kathleen McKiel Memorial Award from the North Attleboro Cultural Council for his contributions to the Arts. Morin is an endorsed percussionist by LP, Sabian, REMO, and Vic Firth.

The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program is part of the Summer Reading Program at the Worcester Public Library. The theme for the 2016 program is “Wellness, Fitness, and Sports” – with loads of free programs being offered through August 20 at the Main Library and all branches.

Participants are eligible for prizes for reading and participating in programs. All ages are invited to sign up for summer reading at mywpl.org or at any library location until August 20.

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And don’t forget! Rolling into your neighborhood TODAY! THE REC MOBILE FARMERS MARKET – AKA THE PRETTY BLUE VAN CAN! See schedule, below…

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I was in Piedmont earlier today, at Family Health Center …

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I love my docs on Queen Street! -Rosalie Tirella

Check out their neighborhood health fair!

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Annual Neighborhood Health Fair

August 12

Family Health Center of Worcester, Inc. welcomes you to join us for our annual Neighborhood Health Fair on Friday, August 12

At 26 Queen St.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Our health fair theme, “One Big Happy Family,” celebrates the global family located right here in our community. We hope you can join for this exciting, fun, family-oriented event that will rejoice in the vibrancy of our diverse city!

The Neighborhood Health Fair is an outdoor event held at 26 Queen St. which promotes health, fitness and fun!

Family Health Center staff will offer health screenings and insurance enrollment assistance to interested community members!

There will be food, music, games, balloons, face painting and much more!

BE THERE!!!!

Go, Jimmy, go!!!! … McGovern Kicks Off Summer Meals Tour For Low-Income Students in Central Mass

NEXT MONDAY, JULY 18!!!

McGovern Kicks Off Summer Meals Tour For Low-Income Students in Central and Western Massachusetts

Congressman Jim McGovern will kick off his third annual Summer Food Rocks Tour next Monday to highlight USDA’s national Summer Food Service Program and how it helps ensure that low-income students in Massachusetts do not go hungry during the summer months when school is out of session.

This year’s tour includes visits to Worcester, Athol, Turner Falls, Ware and Webster.

As part of Congressman McGovern’s third annual tour, he will lead a roundtable with state and local leaders to talk about how the summer food program helps communities in need and visit summer meals sites at schools across the region.

Joining Congressman McGovern on the day-long tour will be:

· Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services

· Kurt Messner, USDA Northeast Regional Administrator Food and Nutrition Service

· Candice Stoiber, USDA Northeast Region Director Special Nutrition Programs Division, Food and Nutrition Service

· Rob Leshin, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed. Acting Director of the Office for Nutrition Programs

The USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. This summer, USDA plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites. Full info on Monday’s tour is below:

7:45AM – 8:10AM in ATHOL

Congressman McGovern; Julianna Valcour (MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed); and Orange School Committee Leaders

Congressman Assists With Breakfast Service to Students

Athol High School, 2363 Main Street, Athol

8:40AM – 9:15AM in TURNER FALLS

Congressman McGovern; Julianna Valcour (MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed); and Gill and Montague Regional School Leaders

Congressman Assists With Breakfast Service to Students

Unity Park, 7 First Street, Turner Falls

10:10AM – 11:15AM in WARE

Congressman McGovern; Ellen Parker (Project Bread Executive Director); Julie Wayman (Project Bread Child Nutrition Outreach Director); Christina Maxwell (Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Programs Director); Abby Getman (Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Planning and Advocacy Coordinator); Simca Hoorwitz (Eastern Massachusetts Director of the Massachusetts Farm to School); Ware Town Administrator Stuart Beckley; MA State Senator Anne Gobi

Summer Food Rocks Tour Roundtable Discussion

Ware Junior and Senior High School, 237 West Street, Ware

11:15AM – 11:45AM in WARE

Congressman McGovern; Amy Socolow (Summer Food Service Consultant – MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed.); MA State Senator Anne Gobi, Ware Town Administrator Stuart Beckley; and Ware School Committee Leaders;

Congressman Assists With Lunch Service to Students

Kaziol Elementary School, 4 Gould Road, Ware

12:35PM – 1:00PM in WEBSTER

Congressman McGovern, Amy Socolow (Summer Food Service Consultant – MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed.); MA State Rep. Joseph McKenna; and Webster School Committee

Congressman Assists With Lunch Service to Students

Park Avenue Elementary School, 58 Park Avenue, Webster

2:40PM – 3:10PM in WORCESTER

Congressman McGovern; Donna Lombardi (Worcester Public Schools Director of Nutrition); Jean McMurray (Worcester County Food Bank Executive Director); Liz Sheehan Castro (Worcester County Food Bank Director of Advocacy); Martha Assefa (Worcester Food and Active Living Policy Council); and Frances Canning (MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed. Review Coordinator for Special Nutrition Programs)

Congressman Assists With Lunch Service to Students

Burncoat Preparatory School Playground, 526 Burncoat Street, Worcester

3:25PM – 4:00PM in WORCESTER

WHO: Congressman McGovern; Frances Canning (MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed. Review Coordinator for Special Nutrition Programs); Jean McMurray (Worcester County Food Bank Executive Director); Liz Sheehan Castro (Worcester County Food Bank Advocacy Director); and Martha Assefa (Worcester Food and Active Living Policy Council)

Congressman Assists With Lunch Service to Students

Girls Inc., 125 Providence Street, Worcester

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Jim works closely with REC. REC FARMERS MARKETS and REC Mobile Farmers Market blue van ACCEPT SNAP, WIC … ALL families can eat well! Times and places:
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Rec mobile farmers market blue van! pic: R.T.

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Drug-free always in style! Congressman Jim McGovern Applauds Obama Administration Efforts to Expand Treatment and Education for Opioid Addiction

Congressman Jim McGovern applauded the announcement this week from the White House that it is calling for an expansion of specialized treatment for prescription painkiller and heroin addiction and training of medical school students using the newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prescriber guidelines for opioids.

President Obama spoke at this week’s National RX Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

“… President Obama announced new public and private sector actions to strengthen efforts in Massachusetts and across the country to tackle the opioid crisis. Massachusetts families are seeing the devastating impact of the opioid crisis every day, and we need strong national leadership to help our communities recover and come back from the brink,” McGovern said.

He continued:

“Prevention and treatment must be at the heart of our approach. [This week’s] actions are essential steps to do just that by expanding access to treatment, preventing overdose deaths and increasing community prevention strategies. With President Obama’s already announced proposal for $1.1 billion in new funding to ensure that all Americans can get the treatment they need, it’s clear that the White House is ready to rise to the challenge.

“Nearly 30,000 Americans died from opioid overdose last year – more than 1,300 in Massachusetts – and the need for action has never been greater.

“I urge my fellow members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to come together to make the serious investments needed to end the opioid crisis once and for all and ensure that every American can get the help they need to recover.”

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BACKGROUND ON THE WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCEMENT:

Increasing access to a key drug for medication-assisted treatment:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a proposed rule to increase the current patient limit for qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorders from 100 to 200 patients with the goal of expanding access to this evidence-based treatment while preventing diversion.

The proposed rule aims to increase access to medication-assisted treatment and behavioral health supports for tens of thousands of people with opioid use disorders.

Why this matters: Buprenorphine is an FDA-approved drug that, because of its lower potential for abuse, is permitted to be prescribed or dispensed in physician offices, which significantly increases its availability to many patients. When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective. Existing evidence shows that this lifesaving, evidence-based treatment is under-utilized.

Updating the regulations around the prescribing of buprenorphine-containing products, as proposed, would help close this treatment gap. Learn more here.

Preventing opioid overdose deaths:

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is releasing a new $11 million funding opportunity to states to purchase and distribute the opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone, and to train first responders and others on its use along with other overdose prevention strategies.

SAMHSA is also releasing a new $11 million funding opportunity for up to 11 states to expand their medication-assisted treatment services. SAMHSA is distributing 10,000 pocket guides for clinicians that include a checklist for prescribing medication for opioid use disorder treatment and integrating non-pharmacologic therapies into treatment.

Why this matters: In 2014, nearly 21,000 deaths in the United States involved prescription opioids, and more than 10,500 involved heroin. Naloxone is a prescription drug that can reverse the effects of prescription opioid and heroin overdose, and can be life-saving if administered in time.

Addressing the substance use disorder parity in Medicaid:

HHS is finalizing a rule to strengthen access to mental health and substance use services for people enrolled in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) plans by requiring that these benefits be offered at parity, meaning that they be comparable to medical and surgical benefits.

Why this matters: These protections are expected to benefit more than 23 million people in Medicaid and CHIP. These actions build on the President’s proposal for $1.1 billion in new funding to help every American with an opioid use disorder who wants treatment get the help they need.