Bringing Healthier, ‘Brighter Bites’ into Houston Neighborhoods



Hispanics make up almost half of the total population in Houston and many live in areas that lack easy access to grocery stores and fresh produce. To grow lasting healthy changes in these communities, teamwork is essential. One mom, determined to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to folks in inner-city Houston, teamed up with a food pantry that had been looking for a creative way to distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need. This is the story of a unique partnership that led to students being sent home from school with a bag fresh produce each week to take to their homes in underserved Houston neighborhoods—and ended in kids demanding extra kale smoothies. EMERGENCE Awareness/Learn: When Lisa Helfman and her husband, Jonathon, wanted their family to eat healthier, ...

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Latina Corner Store Owner Makes Healthy Changes, Little by Little



Woodburn, Oregon, is a small, mostly Latino town south of Portland that’s miles away from a full-service supermarket. The Come N Go corner store, on the outskirts of town, provides hot pre-packaged foods and snacks for on-the-go families and farm workers who stop by on their way to the surrounding fields and farms. Find out how the owner of Come N Go, a Latina mother with two jobs, made it her mission to give customers healthier options. EMERGENCE Awareness: Elizabeth Montano had always toyed with the idea of opening her own shop, and when the security of her full-time job became uncertain, it looked like the time was right. In April 2012, Montano opened Come N Go, a convenience store that sells pre-packed snacks and drinks, as well as some hot items like soup and burritos that ...

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El Paso Restaurant’s Simple Changes Make a Big Difference



In El Paso, a largely Latino city located at the southwestern tip of Texas near the Mexico border, the Latino cultural influence can be found in architecture, décor, events—and especially food. But city residents struggle with high rates of obesity and related diseases, including diabetes. A new restaurant initiative is encouraging local businesses to help children in the community make healthier choices when dining out. One local restaurant owner in particular, who was unhappy with what his own kids were stuck ordering on kids’ menus around town, set out to prove that creating a healthy, tasty kids’ menu can be easy to do and good for business. EMERGENCE Awareness: During a Sunday dinner out with his kids, Jesus Roybal was shocked at what he saw on the kids’ menu. “It was ...

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Latino Students Create Healthy Campaign for School Foods in Omaha, Nebraska



Obesity rates have nearly doubled over the past 15 years in Nebraska. The youth obesity rate in Douglas County, which includes the state’s largest city, Omaha, is even higher (28%) than the state’s overall rate. A group of Latino youth advocates recognized obesity’s pervasiveness in their high-school ranks in Omaha and decided to help their peers improve their nutritional knowledge and make healthier food choices at school. This effort yielded a novel “Green is Go” marketing campaign that simultaneously highlights healthy food options in school cafeterias and stigmatizes less healthy options. Not only did the students conceptualize this campaign, they worked with school and other officials to get it implemented in their cafeteria. EMERGENCE Awareness: Omaha, Neb., has a ...

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‘Sugar Bites’ Campaign Educates on Sugary Drinks & Childhood Obesity



Sugary drinks are a large component of added calories in the American diet. Latino kids have increased their consumption of sugary drinks—such as soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, and flavored milk—between 1991 and 2008, research shows. In Contra Costa, Calif., where 24% of the population is Latino, one of every three kids from low-income families are overweight or obese. A county organization worked with an advertising agency to develop a bilingual social marketing campaign, called Sugar Bites, to urge parents to choose water for their kids instead of sugary drinks. EMERGENCE Awareness: First 5 California is a state organization funded by Proposition 10, a statewide ballot initiative passed in 1998, to conduct health and education programs to benefit children ages ...

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Latino Group Works to Add Healthier Foods at Stores in Milwaukee Neighborhood



When clinic worker Tatiana Maida had trouble finding many healthy products in the small grocery stores in her Latino neighborhood in Milwaukee, she decided to do something about it. She teamed up with concerned parents, dietitians  academics, and store owners to launch a group dedicated to bring baked snacks,hormone-free milk, antibiotic-free eggs, and nutritious grains and seeds into the community’s food environment. When this team of people from all walks of life worked together, they were able to infuse healthy food options into the neighborhood. EMERGENCE Awareness: About 80% of the patients at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center (SSCHC) in Milwaukee’s South side neighborhood are Latinos. 77% of the adult patients are either obese or overweight, and frequently ...

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Learning Lots and Eating Well at the Guadalupe Community Garden



The Guadalupe neighborhood in Lubbock, Texas has seen some tough times. With many folks struggling to make ends meet, healthy eating has not always been a priority. As a result, obesity has been on the rise in children and adults. It took one determined Latina to get the community back to their roots of growing delicious, fresh foods. Lala Chavez partnered with a local university, her church, and ultimately the city to plant a community garden that would give the neighborhood with a space for learning, activities, and delicious tomatoes. EMERGENCE Awareness: Lala Chavez’s family has lived in the Guadalupe neighborhood for generations. A predominantly Latino community on Lubbock’s northeast side, the neighborhood has a history of poverty. “My grandfather was the first one to ...

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Brain Breaks & Afterschool Clubs Bring Physical Activity to Middle Schoolers



Principal Matt Pope wanted to make a difference in the lives of the children at DJ Red Simon Middle School in Kyle, Texas, just south of Austin. When he found out that Simon students had among the highest obesity rates in the district, he immediately took action to introduce healthy changes to the students. The school eliminated junk food on campus and at concession stands and encouraged students to eat at least one fruit or vegetable during breakfast and lunch. They also implemented a policy to require PE for all, brain breaks throughout the day and—at the request of students—afterschool clubs to keep them active. EMERGENCE Awareness: Middle-school teachers face enormous responsibilities—meeting high academic standards, preparing students for real-world challenges, and ...

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The Brownsville Farmers’ Market Launches a Culture of Health



Residents of the largely Latino city of Brownsville, Texas, struggle to find affordable, healthy food in their neighborhoods, and overweight/obesity rates were higher than 80%, said City Commissioner Dr. Rose Gowen. The situation spurred health officials, researchers, and community members to unite and create a farmers’ market that would serve up fresh produce to residents. EMERGENCE Awareness: Downtown Brownsville, Texas, is home to many low-income Latino families. Many of these families struggle with chronic diseases, like diabetes. In fact, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, more than a quarter of children in Brownsville are overweight or obese. Brownsville City Commissioner and physician Dr. Rose Gowen saw this decline in community health. Eating ...

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