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Shannon Baldwin

Articles by Shannon Baldwin

New Grocery Store Brings Healthy Food and Jobs to Hickory

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Hickory, North Carolina has a growing Latino population, at over 11%. Hickory also has many USDA-declared food deserts---low-income areas with no full-service grocery store nearby.  The city now boasts plans for a new Walmart Neighborhood Market store that will bring better food access into some Hickory neighborhoods. According to an article in the Hickory Record, the Walmart store manager says he plans to hire around 95 new employees, making this new market not only a source of healthy foods but also a source of employment. Walmart Neighborhood Market stores were designed in 1998 by Walmart to capitalize on areas in need of low-cost groceries and merchandise and a pharmacy, according to information from Walmart. The stores offer produce, meat and dairy products, bakery and deli ...

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Keeping State-Owened Vending Machines Healthy in California

Vending machines in state buildings are on track to stay healthy in California. The Healthy State Vending Bill (SB 912) passed the full assemply floor on August 19, 2014. The bill, co-sponsored by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), simply eliminates the January 2015 expiration from current law, which requires minimal nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold in vending machines in state buildings. SB 912 will head to the Governor’s desk for his signature by the end of August. Learn more about SB 912 here.   Update: On Friday, September 26, 2014, the Healthy State Vending Bill was signed into law by Governor ...

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South Carolina Releases 2014 Obesity Action Plan

South Carolina, a state with one of the highest childhood obesity rates, is refocusing the efforts begun in 2005 to get the state back in shape. In late September 2014, South Carolina officials released The South Carolina Obesity Action Plan, which focuses on specific improvements and setting achievable goals. According to a news article in The Slate, all the goals fall into one of four target areas: communities, workplaces, school/childcare, and health care. The plan calls for many specific ways the public and private sectors can work towards a healthier South Carolina, like equipping more farmers' markets with the ability to accept SNAP benefits or encouraging more workplaces to create space for breastfeeding moms. With the launch of the new action plan came a new website, ...

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Food Activist Wants to Turn Landscaping Bed in Strip Center into a Vegetable Garden

In San Antonio, TX, a local food activist and karate instructor is bringing his passion for fresh, healthy foods into unexpected places. Outside the karate studio where Len Trevino teaches in a busy strip center are several scattered 8 x 10-foot landscaping beds, mostly with just one remaining dried up shrub and a thin layer of mulch. Len Trevino plans to plant landscaping beds in front of his karate studio with kale, spinach and other vegetables and wants to encourage his neighbors in this strip center to do the same. "We're going to start with one. We're going to start with this one and grow spinach and kale and peppers and hopefully it will grow and some of my neighbors here will do the same thing," Trevino said in an interview with Texas Public Radio. Trevino is the ...

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Leading Soda Companies Pledge to Reduce Beverage Calories by 20 Percent

The three largest soda-makers, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, made big promises at the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative this week. The country's leading beverage companies have set a goal to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. According to an article in the New York Times, the companies plan to reach this goal by a multitude of strategies. They plan to expand the presence of low- and no-calorie drinks, as well as drinks sold in smaller portions, and use their promotional skills to educate and encourage consumers to reduce the calories they are drinking. The program will cover company-owned vending machines and coolers in convenience stores, as well as fountain soda dispensers like those found in fast-food ...

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Report: SNAP Incentives Led to Increase in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

A pilot program to encourage Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries to purchase healthier foods led to a 26 percent increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among participants, according to a final evaluation released last week by the Department of Agriculture. Between 2001 and 2013, the Healthy Incentives Pilot refunded SNAP beneficiaries in Massachusetts with 30 cents for every benefit dollar spent on fruits and vegetables. Read the final report summary ...

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Food Hub Has Big Plans to Revitalize Louisville Food Desert

Hoping to strengthen the production and distribution of locally grown food in Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer granted a 24-acre vacant lot in the West End worth $1.2 million to developers to begin building a "food hub" for Louisville. The new agricultural development will process, store and distribute locally grown produce in an area where healthy food is hard to find, according to an article in the Courier-Journal. Seed Capital Kentucky, the hub's nonprofit developer, is pursuing tax credits to fund a warehouse, commercial kitchen and office space. It is negotiating final details with food and agriculture-related companies, including a juicery, an industrial food processor and a 2-acre demonstration farm. City officials say the new food hub will bring jobs to an area that ...

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City of Birmingham Hopes to Partner with County Transit Authority for Mobile Food Market

In recent months, Birmingham, Alabama has been fostering conversations around affordable, healthy food access. One way other cities get food into underserved areas is through mobile food markets---re-purposed vans or buses that carry fresh fruits and vegetables into neighborhoods that don't have a full service grocery store nearby. Creating a mobile food market was one of several recommendations from a study of the city of Birmingham provided by IBM's $500,000 Smarter Cities Challenge Grant,  and the City wants to try it out. The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority's (BJCTA) board now will consider an agreement with the City of Birmingham to give a set of decommissioned MAX buses to the program and provide fuel and maintenance. The mobile market concept, presented ...

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California Bill Encourages Healthy Eating and Physical Activity After School

California, often on the forefront of legislation encouraging healthy habits in children, will consider a bill this session that would encourage healthy eating and physical activity in after-school programs. Senate Bill 949 establishes the California Distinguished After School Health (DASH) recognition program. It proposes standards for physical activity, “screen time,” and the serving of fruits and vegetables for after-school programs. After-school programs that meet these proposed requirements will be awarded a special “DASH” certification. Read more details about the bill here. There are more than 4,400 publicly funded after-school programs in California serving more than 1.5 million children, many of which are Latino. UPDATE:  S.B. 949 was signed into ...

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