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Banning Soda and Candy from SNAP in Texas



In late January 2013, Texas State Representative Richard Peña Raymond (D- Laredo) introduced H.B. 751 that would prohibit the purchase of sugar-sweetened beverages, cookies, potato chips, and candy with SNAP benefits. The bill died in committee during the summer ...

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Advocates Save an Urban Garden in Cincinnati



The Eco Garden is a community-supported agriculture operation run by neighborhood youth for low-income families. It’s an agricultural oasis in a Cincinnati neighborhood better known for its crime than its carrots. Angela Stanbery-Ebner and her husband Luke got involved the educational programs offered at the Eco Garden in 2004, fresh out of art school at the University of Cincinnati. Six years later, when the nonprofit managing the garden folded, the couple took over, rolling it into their own nonprofit called Permaganic. Out went the emails, an online petition, and calls to the city council in an effort to save one of the most vibrant corners of a rough-around-the-edges neighborhood. Unfortunately for the Eco Garden, it doesn’t own the land on which it sits, the city does. This ...

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Active Texas 2020, Texas’ 10 Year Plan to Promote Physical Activity



Active Texas 2020 is a comprehensive physical activity plan for the state of Texas. It is divided into 8 sections which describe the need for establishing a statewide physical activity plan, how to go about collaborating with various stakeholders, how to obtain resources, and establish goals, for engaging in evidence based initiatives to promote physical activity. Active Texas 2020 is built on the following principles: increasing physical activity will improve the health of individuals and throughout the state; making the healthier choice the easier choice in local communities where people live, work, pray and play is everyone’s business; a successful approach to making community change is one that:             a.) engages and seeks leadership, b.) collaboration, ...

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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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Addressing Food Deserts in Tennessee



Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell is helping a group address the lack of access to healthy foods in low-income Tennessee areas. On Wednesday, March 13, 2013, Rep. Harwell led representatives of the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce on a walk from Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville to a local urban market to illustrate the difficulties Tennesseans living in food deserts have buying healthy ...

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A Petition to Stop Nickelodeon from Advertising Junk Food to Children



"Nickelodeon is the largest entertainment company for kids. It markets and advertises food to children through television, its websites, games, toy giveaways with fast-food meals, and the use of its characters to promote foods," according to The Food Marketing Workgroup.  Between 2005 and 2009 approximately 79% of the ads aired on Nickelodeon featured foods of a poor nutritional value. Nickelodeon, a popular TV channel that airs programming for children, continues to allow food producers to advertise junk food to children. Because the advertisements that children see on TV can have such a strong influence, Viacom and Nickelodeon have been asked to increase their nutrition standards for foods advertised to children. The Food Marketing Workgroup, which is a network of more than 125 ...

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Senate Approves Complete Streets Policy for West Virginia



In West Virginia, a Complete Streets policy recently made its way through the Senate, and will now be reviewed by the House. This legislation would encourage rather than mandate the West Virginia Division of Highways to design roads that would meet the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists alike.  It would also create a 16-member Complete Streets Advisory Board that would make project recommendations to the state transportation board and oversee implementation. According to this news article from The State Journal, similar legislation was brought before the Senate in 2012, but failed. Now the policy will move on to the House for ...

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GDOT Adopts Complete Streets & Paves the Way for Bike Lanes



Months of hard work finally paid off when Joe Seconder and other cyclists found out that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) would be including bike lanes on a new bridge. Plans for the bridge which originally excluded bike lanes were developed before the GDOT adopted a Complete Streets policy. Seconder and others made the case for bike lanes and ultimately convinced the state transportation department to include these lanes on the bridge. With the addition of bike lanes bikers of all ages and backgrounds will now have an alternative means of transportation from one area of the city to another. This Georgia Bikes blog recounts the story of how bike advocates pushed for the development of a Complete Streets Policy in Georgia. Interestingly, some officials working with the ...

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