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M&I Meat Market: A True “Tiendita Por Vida”



“Tiendita por Vida” is Spanish for “little store for life.” That’s exactly Irma Bajarro's M&I Meat Market in the heart of San Antonio’s Westside is becoming. The Westside of San Antonio is predominantly Latino, with many residents working low-income, long-hour jobs. Eating healthy is not easy here; fast-food joints and small corner stores, which tend to have fewer healthy items than full grocery stores, line the streets and give kids ample choices of sugary drinks and fried snacks, rather than fruits and vegetables. Irma, who owns M&I, did not want to see another generation of diabetes growing up in her neighborhood. Meat or Junk Food Two years ago, if you walked into M&I, you’d have had two food options: meat or junk food. Besides the long meat ...

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Energized Youth Work to Add Healthier Dining Choices in Watsonville, Calif.



“It’s hard to engage the average youth in something where there is no choice.” That’s what Kymberly Lacrosse, a community organizer for the United Way of Santa Cruz County, Calif., said about the limited healthy food options in Watsonville. A multitude of unhealthy snacks, greasy fast food, and sugary drink options leave little room for other, healthier choices. Lacrosse mentors the youth involved in Jóvenes SANOS, a youth advocacy and leadership group working to prevent and raise awareness about childhood obesity in Watsonville With almost half of children in the city overweight or obese, the youth of Jóvenes SANOS knew they had to help their small city get healthier. They eventually pushed for improved neighborhood food/dining options. Obesity in Santa Cruz ...

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California Youth Swap Junk for Health at Bus Stations



What are you eating for lunch? Snack food may be the quickest—and unhealthiest—choice. In Santa Cruz County, California, a youth advocacy and leadership group called Jóvenes SANOS knew that their neighborhood needed to incorporate more healthy food options into daily life. That means healthy food even at bus stations. Health in San Cruz County Latinos comprise about 81% of the 50,000 people who live in Watsonville, Calif., which is situated in Santa Cruz County. Jóvenes SANOS, a youth advocacy group seeking to increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for Watsonville youth through implementing long-term environmental policy and system change, understands that childhood obesity is a problem for Latinos. “49% of Hispanics in this ...

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Creating a Healthier Food Culture in Wenatchee, Wash., Schools



Healthy nutritional standards are vital for school districts, but the Wenatchee School District in Washington wasn’t providing the healthiest food environment it could for its 7,000-plus students. That is, until Kent Getzin, the district’s Director of Food Services, pushed for improvements to the district’s school wellness policy. Given that the state of Washington closely aligned with the national trend of one of three children being obese, Getzin seized the opportunity to educate school officials and parents on creating a healthier food culture in a district with a 46.2% Latino student population and 60% of students depending on free or reduced lunch. Getzin set his sights on updating the district’s outdated nutritional standards and emphasized continual support for ...

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Parents Advocate for ‘Real Food’ for Kids in Fairfax, Va.



Parent organization Real Food for Kids (RFFK) aims to improve the nutritional quality of food served at the public schools in Fairfax County, Va. These parents want all students to get healthy, fresh food that will fuel their bodies for physical and educational performance. As stated on their website: “We know, just as you do, that when a child is well-fed with nutritious, real food, he/she is healthier, better behaved and better able to succeed in and out of the classroom.” By doing research and educating themselves, they discovered the volume and breadth of processed foods and foods with artificial dyes and additives being served at their schools, even though these foods were allowed by USDA nutrition guidelines for school lunches. The parent group advocated for a new ...

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Creating Healthier School Concession Stands in San Antonio, Texas



What happens when a school district’s wellness policy doesn’t cover student sports games or other after-school events? In one district in San Antonio, a Latino-majority city with approximately 63% of the residents being of Latino or Hispanic origin, a school board president drove a policy change to implement healthier menu options at concession stands during school-sanctioned after-school events. With the support of various school officials, parents, and students, the new menu extends the district’s already-strong wellness policy to after-school hours and allows healthier items for students and parents. EMERGENCE Awareness: In San Antonio, Texas, the North East Independent School District (NEISD), which has a population of about 67,000 students, of which 55 percent are ...

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Healthier Check-Out Aisles at the Wal-Mart in Anderson, Calif.



Latinos are the largest minority group in Anderson, a small city in northern California’s Shasta County. Already heavily targeted by junk food advertisements on TV, Latino children face the temptation of unhealthy foods every day, and grocery store check-out lines can be one of the toughest spots for kids to make healthy choices. In the fall of 2006, concerned Anderson students decided to take a stand against junk food in check-out aisles, and their impact rippled into many grocery stores across the country. EMERGENCE Awareness: A group of middle-schoolers in Anderson saw the daily struggle they and their peers faced at the grocery and convenience stores: a lot of junk food options at the check-out aisles. They were fed up with how the placement and heavy promotion of these unhealthy ...

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Unlocking the Gates: Playgrounds Open to Families in Spartanburg, S.C.


Two Young Girls Playing On Swing In Playground

In communities where parks and land-space are limited, shared use agreements are providing more areas of recreation for children. Spartanburg, S.C., for example, has a growing Latino population but not enough active spaces. Although the idea of sharing space in Spartanburg had existed for some time, formalizing shared use agreements between the City and two school districts—Spartanburg County School District 6 and Spartanburg County School District 7—took about two years. Thanks to the collaboration of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, the two school districts, and various community organizations, Spartanburg now has a shared use policy that keeps 10 school playgrounds open to the community during non-school hours. EMERGENCE Awareness: Since the late 1990s, members ...

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Passing a Complete Streets Policy in San Antonio, Texas



San Antonio pedestrians and cyclists will now have safer streets and walkways thanks to the implementation of the citywide Complete Streets policy. This San Antonio Complete Streets policy has not only helped those living in the city’s Westside, a largely Latino area, but has also paved the way for residents throughout the entire community to gain a better understanding of how an active-living-friendly environment can foster healthier lives. EMERGENCE Awareness: Health professionals, including David Clear and Kathy Shields of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health), were beginning to see that obesity was a problem in the largely Latino city of San Antonio. Along with obesity, many also suffered from diabetes—of these, many were Latino. In 2004, Metro Health ...

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