Swapping Sugary Drinks for Water Coolers For a Healthy Start



Research shows that children who consume too many sugary drinks risk developing diseases related to unhealthy weight. Latino children, because they tend to consume more sugary drinks than their peers, are at an even higher risk. Health leaders, school officials, and parents in one Latino community in California worked to create a policy to bump sugary drinks out of early-childcare centers and help kids fall in love with water at a young age. EMERGENCE Awareness: More than 44% of children overall in Madera County, Calif., are overweight or obese, and Latino children have even higher rates. Public health groups across California are recognizing these issues and working to reduce them. CA4Health, directed by the Public Health Institute (PHI) in California, is a statewide healthy-living ...

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Doctor Starts a Farmer’s Market in Her Houston Clinic



Dr. Ann Barnes talks to her patients daily about their health. When Barnes, an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Chief Medical Officer of Legacy Community Health, advises them to eat more fruits and vegetables, she hears common excuses. "'It’s too expensive, there’s nowhere near my house [to buy fresh produce].' That was weighing on me as a clinician," Barnes said. Barnes was worried some of her low-income patients would return to her office with illnesses or worse—pre-diabetes, heart problems, cancer—if they continued to not have access to fresh, healthy foods that would help them prevent disease. Then she had a revelation. Big Idea: Farmer's Market at the Clinic Houston, Texas, where nearly half the population is Latino, community ...

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Parents Help Swap Sugary Drinks for Healthier Options in Schools



The nutritional quality of lunches is improving in schools in Fairfax, Va., which has a large Latino student population. But the news wasn’t all good. Parents saw that, despite healthier lunch improvements, sugary drinks remained stocked in vending machines. Sugary drinks consumption contributes to increased rates of obesity and diabetes, studies show. So several parents banded together and, with the support of a member of the local school board and students alike, made a change to remove sugary drinks and replace them with healthier options in vending machines at seven schools. EMERGENCE Awareness: The Fairfax School District serves around 184,000 students. In the district’s 25 high schools, Latinos make up 19% of the student body. JoAnne Hammermaster has two kids in the ...

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Brownsville Leaders Turn Tragedy into Garden of Hope



An old, abandoned plot of land sat empty near the site of a triple homicide involving children in Brownsville, Texas (91% Latino). Could such a tragic location be transformed into beacon of hope—and health? The answer was yes, thanks to Dr. Belinda Reininger and others. The Start of Healthy Changes in Brownsville A weekly farmers’ market launched in 2008 in Brownsville, Texas. Dr. Belinda Reininger, assistant professor at the UT School of Public Health and head of the Brownsville Farmers’ Market, did the necessary paperwork to turn the market into a non-profit entity called The Brownsville Wellness Coalition. The new coalition had a mission to promote both physical activity and healthy food choices in light of rising obesity. The coalition son learned from local ...

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Asheville Makes it Easier for People to Buy and Sell Fresh Produce



Often, usually unintentionally, city ordinances make it difficult for urban farms to grow or sell their produce. Realizing this, cities across the country are refreshing their zoning rules and permits, hoping to bring better fresh food access to all corners of the community. The city of Asheville, NC is one of those cities. New zoning rules put in place by Asheville City Council in September 2013 make it easier to fill vacant space with food. The city will no longer require building permits for temporary structures like hoop houses, greenhouse-like structures that help shield plants from extreme weather. Permitting regulations also were eased for larger, more permanent structures for growing food. The tweaking of these regulations may seem small, but for an urban farmer, it ...

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“Fresh Fridays” Come to South L.A.



Fresh, healthy food is hard to find in the predominantly Black and Latino South Los Angeles community. An unlikely partnership formed in Summer of 2013 between community organizations and a corner liquor store, bringing a fresh fruit and veggie stand to hungry residents. “Fresh Fridays” will be open every Friday afternoon in the 3800 block of South Western Avenue. The produce stand, run by Community Services Unlimited and the Community Coalition, was open for business just a few weeks after the community's last large grocery store closed its doors. The stand sells fruits and vegetables grown by Los Angeles-area farmers. “This effort speaks to the power of what can happen when everybody comes together – neighbors, business owners, local non-profits – to build a better ...

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Rowan County Food Deserts get Fresh Produce from New Mobile Market



Many people in Rowan County, N.C., don’t have access to healthy foods – so Jon Barber, a local food advocate and farmers' market owner, is bringing the fruits and vegetables to them. Mobile Farm Fresh is a mobile farmer’s market, built in a retired city bus, to restore healthy food access. The one-aisle mobile grocery store specializes in fresh, whole foods. Live in the area? See when the mobile market is headed your ...

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Young Latino Starts Garden to Connect Neighbors, Boost Healthy Food



Caesar Valdillez loves where he lives—the Southtown neighborhood in San Antonio (63% Latino). He grew up in the neighborhood and even moved back after he finished college, hoping to meet like-minded environmentalists to improve the neighborhood and sustain it for many years to come. But he noticed Southtown lacked the healthy food options it needed to be a truly healthy community. “Our neighborhood does not have any reasonable grocery store in the area, especially with fresh produce and herbs,” he said. He decided to help. Southtown Lacks Healthy Options In 2010, on a routine neighborhood walk, Valdillez stumbled upon the South Presa Community Garden. It was largely neglected and overgrown. He was “immediately intrigued,” though, when he saw at least a ...

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Local Meat Market Gets Fresher, Inside and Out



Atop a hill in East Los Angeles, Ramirez Meat Market has spent three decades as a neighborhood fixture. However, the market hasn’t been a beacon of health. Celia Ramirez, who has owned the store for the last 10 years, runs it by herself following her husband’s death in an automobile accident. Now, with some community help, Ramirez transformed her meat market from a typical junk-food-filled corner store into a place that where the community can find nutritious food options and embrace a healthier lifestyle. EMERGENCE Awareness: East L.A. is an urban community that is 96% Latino and has high rates of obesity-related chronic diseases. Small corner stores and meat markets are abundant in the community, but sell mostly junk food and few fresh fruits and vegetables, and/or poorly ...

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