Banning Sugary Drinks on CalFresh



Californians who get help under CalFresh, the food stamps program, may soon see their beverage choices limited by state lawmakers, who are considering barring use of the benefits to buy sugary sodas and other unhealthy beverages. State Sen. Michael J. Rubio (D-East Bakersfield) introduced S.B 134 that proposes to modify the list of allowable food items that can be purchased under CalFresh to exclude many sweetened beverages containing more than 10 calories per cup. As of August 5th, the bill is still being read, amended, and considered by California law-makers. Read the full-text of the bill ...

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Austin City Council Discusses Pocket Park for the Lamar/Justin Lane Site



Residents from the Crestview Neighborhood Association and the Brentwood Neighborhood Association in Austin, Texas expressed a desire to use a 5.5 acre, city-owned, piece of land, for a new park. According to an agenda from the Austin City Council, a resolution to evaluate the feasibility of using property located at 6909 Ryan Drive, for the creation of a pocket park, was brought before the council. The council approved the resolution and the result is a report which outlines the community vision, the current regulatory authority, existing conditions and development scenarios, and open space opportunities, among other items. More Information Austin City Council Agenda, January 17, 2013 The Austin City Council discussed item (no. 54) on the agenda, a resolution which asks the city ...

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Chicago Introduces Blueprint to Reduce City’s Obesity



On January 8, 2013, the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) released the Blueprint for Accelerating Progress in Childhood Obesity Prevention in Chicago: The Next Decade. It was created after a year of strategic planning with national and local experts to create goals, objectives, and strategies for Chicago to undertake to make a substantial difference in childhood obesity rates in the city. Among the recommendations outlined in the plan were price incentives and disincentives for unhealthy beverages, policies that promote greater food access for all, and continuing to remove unhealthy competitive foods in schools. In Chicago public schools, Hispanic children make up almost half of the student body. Keep up to date with CLOCC's progress through their ...

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A Program to Establish Grants for Childhood Health in Texas



Latino children face a high risk of being overweight. In order to curve this situation, programs to promote increased physical activity among children are important. To address this issue Texas House Rep. Richard P. Raymond (D-Laredo) introduced a bill (H.B. 128), during the 2013 Texas Legislative session, to authorize grants for childhood health programs. Grants would be applied towards programs related to childhood health, fitness, and obesity prevention.   Read the full text of H.B. 128, which would establish a Childhood Health Program Grant. Visit the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living to learn about other obesity related bills that were authored during the 2013 Texas Legislative Session.   Update: This bill failed to pass and has been referred to ...

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Cities in California’s Imperial Valley Want More Farmers’ Markets with SNAP Capabilities



El Centro's eastside is considered a food desert, having limited access to fresh food close by. Farmers' markets in Imperial Valley are hoping to eliminate this problem. One farmers' market on the eastside, run by Neighborhood House of Calexico, is also the first and only in the Valley that allows patrons to use Electronic Benefit Transfer debit cards. The cards are issued to low-income residents who qualify for government assistance (SNAP), previously known as food stamps. Residents and farmers in Imperial Valley hope to see other cities and towns accepting SNAP at their farmers' markets. The city of Holtville is considering implementing the use of EBT cards at their recently launched farmers markets. Any decision to do so would ultimately have to be approved by the city council, said ...

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Banning Food Ads in Schools in Maine



Despite rules, regulations, and policies, junk food marketing can make it's way into schools. This issue became an problem in Maine when a study found that the marketing restrictions were not being completely followed. Maine's law prohibits "brand-specific advertising of certain unhealthy foods and beverages in schools," specifically foods that are not allowed to be sold in school. By doing this Maine hopes to keep unhealthy food or junk food brands out of sight of students, since they are already not allowed to purchase these foods during the school day. The foods not allowed to be served during the school day are considered "Foods of Minimum Nutritional Value," including soda, water ices, chewing gum, candies, and any food containing less than five percent of the Reference Daily ...

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Developing New Farmers’ Markets in New Mexico



New Mexico hoped to develop and promote more farmers' markets in the state with H.B. 100. State Rep. Don L. Tripp introduced the bill, and many food activists in New Mexico saw it as an opportunity to get more farmers' markets to underserved areas around the state, bringing healthier food along with them. On April 15, 2013, the bill was signed into ...

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A Requirement for Six Semesters of Physical Activity at Middle Schools in Texas



In February of 2013, Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) filed SB 525, a bill that would increase physical activity requirements for middle school students (grades 6-8th). Students would be required to take six semesters of physical activity rather than the current requirement of only four semesters. Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) filed a companion bill HB 277, which includes the same provisions as SB 525. The bills, which would increase physical education requirements for students and require at least 30 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity, 135 minutes per week, or (if the district uses block scheduling) 225 minutes of bi-weekly physical activity, failed to pass during the 2013 Legislative ...

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A Program to Recognize Texas Public Schools With Successful Health and Fitness Programs



At the 2013 Texas Legislature, Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) introduced SB 65, as a way to recognize schools for creating a healthy environment. If this bill were to be enacted schools would be recognized with a bronze, silver, or gold, award according to the success of their school's fitness program. Private and non-profit entities would be allowed to provide donations and incentives to schools that receive healthy school recognition. According to the Texas Legislature Online, SB 65 was referred to public education and no action was taken in committee. Read the full text to SB 65, which would have provided recognition to schools with a healthy school ...

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