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Amanda Merck

Merck completed her MPH with a concentration in Physical Activity and Health. She curates content for Salud America! (@SaludAmerica), a Latino childhood obesity prevention project based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. She focuses on the latest research, resources, and stories related to policy, systems, and environmental changes to enhance equitable access to safe places for kids and families to walk, bike, and play.


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Articles by Amanda Merck

Coronavirus Is Worsening Food Insecurity for Latino, Other Families


food security during coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak is making it harder for Latino and other families to get enough food to feed their families, a condition also called food insecurity. People are stocking up on groceries and buying online in hopes of hunkering down and limiting social interactions, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But families who rely on nutrition aid can’t stock up. They also can’t buy online. With many schools and farmer’s markets also closing, many families are struggling to replace school meals at home for their children. This is especially impacting Latino and black households, who are more likely to suffer food insecurity (16.2% and 21.2%, respectively) than the national average (11.1%). SNAP Benefits Not Adapting to Coronavirus Crisis As many families are piling up ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 3/31: Safe Routes to Healthy Food—Why & How


safe-routes-healthy-food-farmers-market-crosswalk-tweetchat

Everyone deserves a safe and reliable way to get to healthy food—whether a supermarket, farmers market, or food bank. Without nearby grocery stores, people must travel further or rely on corner stores, which often sell food that is poorer in quality and more expensive, and without crosswalks, sidewalks, and bike lanes, people walking and biking are at increased risk of injury or death. The Safe Routes National Partnership released a new report with policy implications, opportunities, and recommendations to help you advance safe routes to healthy food in your community. Let’s use #SaludTues on March 31, 2020, to tweet about the problem, opportunities, and policy recommendations to improve access to healthy foods, particularly for people without cars.   WHAT: #SaludTues ...

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$2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Helps Airlines Over Transit, Corporations Over Workers


support emergency funding for public transit

As families practice social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 and as governments close non-essential businesses, employees are losing their jobs and transit is losing ridership. Economists estimate that nearly three million Americans could lose their jobs by summer. Many of these are low-wage workers in service industries with little savings to get through a recession. Recently President Trump warned Senate Republicans that the coronavirus pandemic could cause the unemployment rate to reach 20%, according to NBC News. This is double the highest unemployment rate from the Great Recession. On March 25, 2020, U.S. legislators agreed to a $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill. “Without federal financial assistance, many transit agencies and paratransit service ...

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Gracias to the Latina Nursing Student Who Invented Hand Sanitizer!


Latina nursing student invented hand sanitizer

Clean hands are critical to reduce the spread of infection, particularly coronavirus (COVID-19). However, washing with soap and water isn’t always option. In 1966, nursing student, Lupe Hernandez, realized alcohol in gel form could be an effective way to clean hands when soap and water weren’t available. She called an inventions hotline to learn about patenting hand sanitizer. Over 50 years later, Hernandez's invention is still saving lives against threatening diseases and protecting brave medical professionals. Hand sanitizer sales and wipes has grown steadily. They expanded beyond hospitals and care homes to supermarkets and personal accessories. The U.S. market of hand sanitizer was $28 million in 2002. In 2009, hand sanitizer sales soared in the wake of ...

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What the New Coronavirus Law Means for Paid Sick Leave, Family Leave


Paid leave provisions in coronavirus relief bill.

People need to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19. However, for the 27% of the U.S. private workforce with no paid sick leave, staying home isn’t an option, particularly for the full prescribed 14-day quarantine. That’s why a form of paid sick leave and family/childcare leave are part of a new $100 billion relief law, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which also includes nutrition aid, unemployment health insurance, and free COVID-19 testing. Trump signed the new law on March 18, 2020. It goes into effect April 2, 2020. But the new law could leave out up to 19 million workers, roughly 12% of the workforce, including many low-income Latinos, women, and other vulnerable populations, experts say. Moreover, economists estimate that three ...

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9 Big Actions for Safe Routes to Healthy Food


bus at grocery store

Everyone deserves a safe and reliable way to get to healthy food—whether a supermarket, corner store, food bank, farmers market, or community garden. Unfortunately, many Latinos and people in low-income communities, rural communities, and communities of color are disproportionately burdened by long and unreliable commutes, as well as unsafe routes to nutritious food. That’s why the Safe Routes to Healthy Food Task Force worked for two years to refine the concept of safe routes to healthy food. Now they’ve released a new report with policy implications, opportunities, and recommendations. “This collaboration demonstrated that improving access to healthy foods for people without cars can be improved by a variety of sectors, including: transportation, healthy food access, ...

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Comment Now: Stop the Return of Redlining & Speak Up for Transit!


Latino family home

Proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) could bring back redlining, relax affordable housing definitions, and reduce the number of bank loans, investments, and services in low- and moderate-income communities and those of color, experts say. The CRA was developed in 1977 to curb redlining—discriminatory lending—and push banks to better serve communities. Now, federal agencies are proposing changes to modernize the complex law. But housing advocate Miriam Axel-Lute and others worry it weakens the CRA and is a “clear invitation to return to redlining.” “In addition, some investments in infrastructure and sports stadiums in low- and moderate-income communities would now qualify for CRA credit without any requirement that they primarily benefit low- and ...

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Somos Neighbors: Using Data Visualization to Connect People, Close the Life Expectancy Gap in San Antonio


Tonika Johnson, center, with “map twins” Carmen Arnold-Stratton, right, and Bridghid O’Shaughnessy, left. (WTTW News)

Where we live plays a big role in how long we live. That’s why racial and economic segregation are so harmful. Unequitable distribution of investment and services results in poor social and health outcomes for some. Tonika Johnson saw this in real time as a teen when she commuted from the less affluent South Side Chicago neighborhood where she lived to the more affluent North Side neighborhood where she attended school. “It’s like there was an invisible line dividing the city,” she said. Johnson started the “Folded Map” project to explore neighborhood differences and discuss solutions. In San Antonio, public health group CI:NOW were intrigued by Johnson’s “Folded Map.” How could they use it as model to create their own data tool to help residents, ...

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