Tag Archives: obesity

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THE REC FARMERS MARKET VAN BRINGS FRESH PRODUCE AND MORE TO WORCESTER’S INNER-CITY NEIGHBORHOODS.

McGovern, DeLauro, Pingree Condemn Trump Move to Rollback School Meals Nutrition Standards

New Policy Attacks Access to Healthy Food for Students Across the Country

(I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.)

Today Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) – senior House Democrats and leaders on nutrition policy – condemned the move by the Trump Administration to rollback nutrition standards for school meals across the country.

As one of his first acts as Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue announced that the USDA will continue exemptions related to whole grain requirements and will freeze sodium targets.

“Every day school meals help ensure millions of kids get the healthy food they need to learn and succeed. It is outrageous that President Trump and his administration are now pushing a policy that weakens the essential nutrition standards which have strengthened access to healthy food for so many students,” Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said.

He continued: “The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 helped us make historic progress in tackling child hunger and obesity. School meals are just as essential as textbooks when it comes to helping our kids succeed and, for millions of kids, school is the only place they will get a nutritious meal. We should build on the progress we’ve made, not turn our backs on kids who rely on these meals. This isn’t about flexibility, it’s about making kids less healthy. Just because President Trump thinks fast food is a balanced meal doesn’t mean we should lower our standards for our kids.”

“Just days into his new job as Secretary of USDA, Secretary Perdue has decided to put special interests ahead of the health of America’s children. School meal nutrition standards were enacted, on a bipartisan basis, to bring school meals up to date with the latest nutrition science — ensuring that our children have healthy options on their plates,” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said.

“However, the USDA and President Trump have now decided to roll back much of the progress we have made in the fight against rates of childhood obesity and malnutrition. This interim final rule by the USDA is a slippery slope that will completely undermine school breakfast and lunch programs and the USDA should immediately reverse course,” she said.

It’s disappointing that one of Secretary Perdue’s first actions as the head of USDA is to rollback school nutrition standards with this rule. For many low-income students, the meals they eat in school are all they will eat that day. Minimizing access to healthy food will have consequences for our nation as it grapples with a childhood obesity crisis,” Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) said. “I recognize schools are faced with strict and limited budgets, so we should concentrate on providing support and technical assistance to schools rather than rolling back standards. I hope Secretary Perdue will refocus his priorities on policies that will improve access to nutritious food and withdraw this rule.”

Today’s announcement will allow schools during the 2017-2018 school year to be exempted from the 100 percent whole-grain requirement.

For school years 2017-2018 through 2020, schools will not be required to meet Sodium Target 2 standards and will be able to stay at Sodium Target 1.

Additionally, the USDA will begin a regulatory process to allow schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk.

Hunger in our Latino Community! SNAP to the rescue!

By Stacy Wilbur

Sometimes after an especially long day of working at the Edward M. Kennedy Health Center in Great Brook Valley, Lisandra Rodriguez de Pagan, needs her spirits buoyed, so she spends her down time sharing the highlights of her day with her husband and three children.

For the most part, it’s Lisandra who is raising spirits in her role as a SNAP Outreach Worker to the Latino community for Project Bread.
For the nearly two years in Worcester, Lisandra has headed up a special project called “Strengthening Latino Families” aimed at enrolling Latino families in SNAP, which stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

Funded by a prestigious grant from the USDA through the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, this project is a pilot program in Worcester and Chelsea, aimed at uncovering the reasons why Latinos are the largest group most at risk for food-insecurity and also the group least likely to apply for SNAP benefits.

“Latinos face many unique barriers with regard to SNAP,” said Lisandra, reviewing the stack of paperwork on her desk with a sigh. “These include language barriers, cultural differences, citizenship concerns, and a general mistrust of government.” Continued Lisandra: “So we begin with a friendly conversation, and I try to tease out their worries and put them to rest. Once they learn how the program can help their families eat a more healthy diet, they are much more open to applying.”

And the benefits of SNAP for low-income Latinos are significant.
SNAP enables families to purchase healthy food for themselves and their children. The benefits come in the form of an EBT card (no more paper stamps), which looks like a credit card and can be used at most supermarkets. EBT stands for “electronic benefits transfer” and that’s exactly how the cards work: the client’s SNAP benefits are electronically transferred to the card each month to help them add fresh produce, eggs, milk, fish, and other healthy items to their grocery cart.

With 660,000 people at risk for hunger in the Massachusetts, it’s particularly important to take advantage of this program.

“But many Latinos are ashamed,” says Lisandra. “They don’t want to ask for a handout. They don’t understand that, as taxpayers, they are entitled to this assistance. And some families I speak to don’t realize that they are eligible – or that, even if they are not eligible, that their children may be.”

“My job,” continued Lisandra, “is to create a safe place for parents to ask questions and think about their decisions. I tell them that it is important to take care of their family’s health first, and that studies show us that a healthier diet contributes to their children getting better grades in school and to lower rates of diabetes and hypertension.”

As a result, the Latino community has embraced Lisandra as a trusted resource and advocate on their behalf. In many places, she is affectionately known as the “The Food Stamp Lady.”

“Hunger is a major health crisis hurting families in Worcester, as well as across the state,” says U.S. Congressman James P. McGovern, a long-time advocate for food-insecure people.

In recognition of this problem, Project Bread, the state’s leading antihunger organization, has partnered with the Office of Congressman McGovern, the Office of the Mayor, the Worcester Advisory Food and Active Living Policy Council, along with local health and community centers, to take action.

To get started on resolving the crisis, Project Bread and its partners began a marketing outreach campaign aimed at the Latino community, promoting the importance of receiving SNAP benefits. The campaign included bilingual pamphlets, which were produced and distributed to targeted locations, including Compare Foods, the Worcester Public Schools Parent Resource Center, as well as health and social service centers, and the unemployment office.

Project Bread outreach workers also worked closely with local employers and unions to encourage their employees and members to take advantage of SNAP and many employers put notices in paycheck envelopes.

In Worcester, the project now includes outreach workers like Lisandra in health centers and social service agencies throughout the city, including the Edward M. Kennedy Health Center, the Family Health Center, WIC, the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center (PSNNC), and the Main South Community Development Corporation (see sidebar for hours).

At the Family Health Center, Marta Campos is another such “Food Stamp Lady.”

Since 2010, Marta has been helping Latino families apply for SNAP, processing about 15 applications a month. Campos attributes the increase to the marketing campaign, the caring of the counselors, and the extended hours. The health center is open five days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., as well as Saturdays and holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Campos says that the extended hours allow people who work (sometimes more than one job) to come in during non-work hours and get the counseling and assistance they need.
“SNAP makes such a difference in people’s lives,” Campos said. “I recently had an elderly diabetic couple come in to thank me for our help because they were able to have better quality food on their table.”

Since outreach began through “Strengthening Latino Families,” the Food Stamp Ladies have processed approximately 700 SNAP applications and have provided an additional 800 people with information and assistance on SNAP in Worcester.

Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline, the only comprehensive hunger resource in Massachusetts, has also seen an increase of calls from Worcester. The hotline, which receives an average of 47,000 calls a year, has observed a 61 percent increase in calls from Worcester between September 2009 to September 2010.

Although “Strengthening Latino Families” comes to an end this October, Project Bread will continue its outreach to Latinos in the Worcester community through collaboration with its partners.
“It is very important to us to carry on the work we began in Worcester,” said Noreen Kelly, Director of Community Initiatives at Project Bread.

“We will continue to have an outreach coordinator in the community and distribute marketing materials to promote SNAP.”
Lisandra is one “Food Stamp Lady” who is heartened to hear this: “My clients appreciate the customer service I provide to them and are relieved to know that I am here to help.”

Want to Apply for SNAP?

Visit one of the health centers or social service agencies below for SNAP application assistance in Spanish and English.

Edward M. Kennedy Health Center ( at Great Brook Valley)
19 Tacoma St.
Worcester, MA 01605
(508)852-1805
Friday: 9:00 A.M. – 1:30 P.M.

Family Health Center
26 Queen Street,
Worcester, MA 01610
(508) 860-7700
Monday to Friday: 8:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Saturday & Holidays: 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center (PSNNC)
301 Pleasant Street
Worcester, MA 01609-2023
(508) 754-7793
Tuesdays: 1:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.

Main South Community Development Corporation
875 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01610
(508) 752-6181
Wednesdays: 11:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. and by appointment

How chubby are we?

… from Bill Coleman

editor’s note: we may as well say: How poor are we? (poverty often = obesity = poor nutrition). R. Tirella

The rise of obesity has been stunningly rapid. As recently as 1980, just 15 percent of adults were heavy enough to be defined as obese. By 2008, however, the rate had hit 34 percent. Although some experts dispute the causes of the change, with nearly 10% of health costs linked to obesity, no one disputes that it is a public health crisis.

State Obesity Rates for Adults:

1. Mississippi 33.8%
2. Alabama 31.6%
3. Tennessee 31.6%
4. West Virginia 31.3%
5. Louisiana 31.2%
6. Oklahoma 30.6% Continue reading How chubby are we?

A proven method of “girth control”

By Chris Holbein

You probably don’t need anyone to tell you that Americans are losing the battle of the bulge. Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, and obesity rates among children have tripled in the past 30 years. The problem is so alarming that earlier this year, a nonprofit group called Mission: Readiness, fronted by senior retired military leaders, issued a report titled “Too Fat to Fight,” which concluded that 27 percent of all young adults “are too fat to serve in the military.”

So it’s heartening to see that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new dietary guidelines take aim at the obesity epidemic in part by recommending a shift toward a plant-based diet. Going vegetarian (or better yet, vegan) is a proven way to lose weight—and keep it off—as well as to improve your overall health. Continue reading A proven method of “girth control”

Obesity: a problem for Worcester’s kids – and the entire nation

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

Schools must work on having a balance between wellness and academics as we address the needs of our children. With so much emphasis on MCAS scores, wellness has taken a back seat to achievement. The question is: why can’t we do both – academics and wellness? “If our children aren’t healthy, their learning suffers, and research shows that children who eat high sugar, high fat meals may have poorer cognitive skills, higher anxiety levels, and problems with hyperactivity,” stated Jerry Newberry in an article in the NEA magazine.

Let’s look at a health issue that is affecting our children – obesity. For more than four decades, obesity rates in the United States have more than quadrupled among children ages 6 to 11 years, more than tripled among adolescents ages 12 to 19 years and more than doubled among children ages 2 to 5 years, according to the Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth. Today, almost one third of the children in this country are either overweight or obese. The percentage of young people who are overweight has tripled over the last 25 years. Preventing obesity during childhood is critical because habits formed during childhood and adolescence frequently persist into adulthood.

Are you concerned yet? Continue reading Obesity: a problem for Worcester’s kids – and the entire nation

Trust Obama!

By Rosalie Tirella

Some folks on the left are disappointed in our prez. Not I! He is cool, goodlooking, smart and progressive. How wonderful to turn on the tube and see a guy who speaks well, listens carefully, reacts intelligently, has a sense of humor (a wee bit smug, perhaps) AND is pretty much the community organizer I voted for last November.

President Barack Obama still cares about families, neighborhoods and kids. He wants a health care system that doesn’t break the bank – a system that serves the guy with cancer or the girl who just broke an ankle. Not the insurance companies or the HMOs. And no, there will not be rationing of health care. And like Obama said, if you have health insurance that you are happy with and you like all your docs – then keep them. But chances are you will be paying less money for their good services. Continue reading Trust Obama!