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Shannon Baldwin

Articles by Shannon Baldwin

Kids are “Snackin’ It Up” in North Texas

After-school programs are a great way for kids to learn new things, get ahead on school work, and just play around with friends. However, some after-school program leaders say they don't always have access to healthy, energizing snacks to hand out to hungry children. Some researchers at the Tufts University hope to change that. The Snack It Up pilot program was created by Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University in Medford, MA. Snack it Up connects selected out-of-school program with grocery providers to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for area children who participate in out-of-school activities. The Dallas-Fort Worth area, where Latinos make up 20% of the population, has been chosen as one of the pilot locations ...

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More Urban Gardens Coming to San Francisco’s Underserved Neighborhoods

A popular community garden in San Francisco's Ingleside Heights neighborhood has been so successful with residents that Peter Vaernet, the man behind that garden, wants to plant a new one just a few blocks away in Merced Heights, on 2 undeveloped acres of the grassy promenade known as Brotherhood Way. Another garden may be a welcome addition for many reasons. This community is considered a food desert by the USDA. Nearly 15 percent of households in the area speak a language other than English at home, mostly Spanish and Asian languages, according to census data. The recent closing of a large neighborhood grocery store left only one other full-service grocery in the area, but that store's pricing is out of many families' budget. Thus, folks may welcome a new garden as ...

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Traffic-Light Labels and Choice Architecture Promoting Healthy Food Choices

Sometime all we need a small nudge in the right direction to pick a healthy food over a not-so-healthy one. A team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital decided to see if little nudges would help people who ate in the hospital cafeteria make healthier food choices. They placed colored circles next to food items that indicated whether the food is a healthy option (green), an O.K. option (orange), or one to choose rarely (red circle). The study also tested "choice architecture"---making the healthy choices the easiest choices by making them front and center or placing them alongside popular foods. After six months, the number of red, unhealthy items purchased in the cafeteria dropped by 20 percent, while green purchases rose by 12 percent.  Consumption of sugary sodas ...

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School, Students Use Fish to Grow Fresh Veggies for Community

Latino neighborhoods tend to have less access to fresh fruits and veggies. In Santa Ana, Calif., a high school that serves at-risk youth, offers a first-period gardening class. It started as a campus beautification project but ended in students growing healthy, nutritious food for their community in a unique, sustainable way using fish, called “aquaponics.” The problem of 'spicy hot Cheetos' The Academy, created by California philanthropists Susan Samueli and Sandi Jackson, is a unique high school for underserved teens in Santa Ana, Calif. The school opened in 2013 to maximize individual student attention and offers work-based and project-based learning, college readiness, and new technology. More than 80% of its students are Latino. When it comes to students diets, ...

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USDA to Provide Extra Fruits and Veggies to Food Banks, Soup Kitchens, and Food Pantries Across the Country

Putting food on the table can be tough for many families. Trying to put healthy food on the table can be even tougher. When families need a little extra support, they can turn to local food pantries or soup kitchens. Thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), resources like food pantries will be able to serve more fruits and veggies to families in need. In early 2013, the USDA announced its intent to purchase up to $126.4 million worth of fruit and vegetable products for distributed to needy families under The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). This purchase will expand efforts to provide high-quality, wholesome, domestically-produced foods to support low-income families in need of emergency food assistance. "Food distribution programs are a vital part of our ...

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Mexico Approves Soda and Junk Food Tax

Mexico holds the title of the world's fattest country, but the Mexico's leaders have decided to do something about the out-of-control obesity epidemic.  Beginning in January 2013, a new law will place an 8 percent tax on most junk food and a peso-per-liter tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. Health advocates in the United States are excited to see if the new tax puts a dent in soda consumption and the obesity rate. In the past, soda tax proposals have not been successfully passed in the U.S., but many believe Mexico's new laws may encourage folks in the U.S. to reconsider taxing sugary drinks. Read more ...

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Learning about Good Food at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan

In New York City  the children's museum has dreamed-up a creative way to tackle rising rates of childhood obesity. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health is hoping to teach children to love fruits and vegetables through hands-on learning. The permanent exhibit features a food-based curriculum called “Eat Play Grow,” which comes with ready-made lessons in both Spanish and English on things like portion control, healthy drinks, exercising and sleeping. While similar efforts have been aimed at older school-age children, this program is devised specifically to reach kids under-5 through interactive displays, classes infused with art and music, and workshops for their parents. And the learning doesn't stop when ...

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Food Pantry Serves Boston Clinic Patients

Latinos make up almost 50% of the folks living in the Boston area, many of which struggle with diet-related disease like diabetes. One medical center is hoping to make a difference in the lives of lower-income patients. Boston-area patients are receiving prescriptions for nutritious food, thanks to the Preventative Food Pantry located at the Boston Medical Center. Patients who need a little extra help buying nutritious food for themselves and their families can bring their doctor-written "prescriptions" to the pantry and swap it for fruits, veggies, and more. There is also a food demonstration kitchen where folks can learn how to cook healthy food so that it tastes great. Many other health care providers across the country are following this trend of on-site ...

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Houston City Council Approves Exemptions to Bring Grocery Stores into Food Deserts

Sometimes a well-meaning law has unintended consequences. In the City of Houston, it's illegal to sell alcohol within 300 feet of a church, public hospital or private school, or within 1,000 feet of a public school. This means that full-service grocery stores that may sell alcohol as well as fresh fruits and vegetables are prohibited in many neighborhoods, creating food deserts throughout the City. An ordinance introduced in December 2013 by City Councilman Stephen Costello would create an exemption for grocery stores to sell near churches and hospitals. That way, many areas that currently lack fresh food options will be able to legally have a near-by grocery store. Under the proposed ordinance, only full-size grocery stores would be allowed to sell alcohol within 300 feet of ...

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