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Help Keep Our Children Healthy!

As the American Heart Association’s South Carolina advocacy network, we’re working to ensure we build healthier lives for everyone – especially our kids.  Thank you for joining us in the fight to build a healthier generation.  In our state, we have a long way to go to make sure we keep unhealthy fundraisers like the sale of candy bars, pizza and donuts out of our kids’ schools.  We all know that healthy kids are better students. Currently, South Carolina ranks 2nd in childhood obesity for children ages 10-17.  The last thing our kids need is more junk food at school that will distract them from making healthy choices and focusing on what matters most: learning!

Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) improved guidelines for snack foods and beverages sold in schools to make sure our kids have more access to healthy options. State agencies now have to decide how often they will apply these nutrition standards on an infrequent basis to food-related fundraisers during the school day. The SC State Board of Education (SBE) has proposed a rule that would allow unhealthy fundraisers during the school day to occur up to 90 days per school per year. That is exactly half of the 180 day school year, ignoring the rule guidance of allowing infrequent fundraisers. However, 27 other states, 8 of them Southern states, have opted for no exemptions

We are working right now to make changes through policy focused on this issue.  If we don’t take action for our kids’ future now, it will cost us dearly—up to $8 billion in projected health costs.  Our students are at risk for cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses before they even graduate from high school.

The last thing they need is more junk food at school that will distract them from making healthy choices and focusing on their classes.  Schools need to provide an atmosphere that helps our kids learn to make good, healthy choices. 

We thank you, our South Carolina You’re the Cure network, for joining us as we move forward to change this policy for our children, and for our state.

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New Road Map to the End of Hunger Launched in Minnesota

The Public News Service of Minnesota published an article on Food Insecurity in our state.  AHA's Rachel Callanan serves on the Steering Committee of the Minnesota Food Charter. Check it out!

 DULUTH, Minn. - Minnesota is set to roll out a new plan on ending hunger as hundreds of advocates from around the state convene at the annual Food Access Summit, beginning today in Duluth.

Lucinda Jesson, Minnesota human services commissioner, says this year's gathering will include the public launch of the Minnesota Food Charter, aimed at improving access for families struggling to put food on the table.

"This is the result of about a year of public input from a lot of stakeholders," says Jesson. "Basically it's a road map on how we're going to get to the goal of making sure all Minnesotans have access to healthy, affordable food." - Continue reading here

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You're Invited: Join Us to Learn More About Advocacy

We have a special opportunity from the NC Alliance for Health (NCAH), our statewide coalition advocating for obesity prevention and tobacco control policy change. The American Heart Association is a proud member of the NCAH.

NC Alliance for Health Healthy Food Access Training

You are invited to an interactive training on combating obesity and other chronic diseases by increasing access to healthy foods. There will be a discussion of food insecurity in North Carolina, and the many different ways people around the state are working to increase access to healthier foods.

You will how you can help make a difference. Attendees will have an opportunity to sharpen their advocacy skills, and learn tips to be more effective with media and decision-maker advocacy.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Sarah Jacobson at sarah@ncallianceforhealth.org.

Thursday, November 20, 2014
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Location: Forsyth County Health Department
799 N. Highland Avenue, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Lunch will be served!

Register here by Thursday, November 6!

PS: Don't forget to post pictures of what you see in your food environment on your favorite social media with the hash tag #healthyonthegoNC!

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One Step Closer to Healthy Food Access in Minneapolis!

The Staple Food Ordinance passed the Minneapolis City Council’s Health, Environment and Community Engagement committee unanimously on October 20, 2014. Huge thank you to You’re the Cure advocate Dr. Courtney Jordan Baechler for testifying on behalf of the American Heart Association.

The Staple Food Ordinance would remove a key barrier for many to eating healthy by making healthier food more available and accessible to Minneapolis residents. If passed, this ordinance would ensure that stores offer an appropriate variety and amount of staple foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. It would also provide store owners with flexibility to meet requirements using culturally appropriate foods and clarify exemption criteria for business owners across all types of retail food outlets. There are many barriers to eating healthy, but proximity to healthier food is barrier that can be addressed

Corner stores are a frequent source of food for urban residents, youth and families, but often do not carry healthy foods. However, residents living near supermarkets have healthier diets and are 17% less likely to be obese. Additionally white and higher income residents are more likely to eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day compared to lower income residents and people of color.

The American Heart Association recommends that children eat at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal. But many Minnesota children are falling short. The 2013 Minnesota Student Survey found that 55% of respondents are not eating fruit and 60% are not eating vegetables at least once a day. Even more startling, 7% ate no fruit at all and 1 out of 10 ate no vegetables at all, during the previous week.

Measures like this ordinance will create more opportunities for parents to incorporate fruits and vegetables as part of regular meals and improve the diets of many children.

There was a tremendous show of support at the public hearing! The next step is passing the ordinance at the full Council. Watch for an opportunity soon to contact the Council members and help voice your support for this ordinance.

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Share Your Pics: Join Us for an Online Food Fight

Fall brings about visions of harvest and nature's bounty. Unfortunately what we see when we are out on the go doesn't always match that vision. What do you see? This fall we want to know what you see - in convenience stores or where you stop to shop when you are on the go. Simply snap a picture for us and then upload it to your favorite social media site with the hash tag #healthyonthegoNC.

If you see some great healthy food, let us know by uploading your pictures and captioning them with "This corner store is making it easy for me to be #healthyonthegoNC." Or is your local selection not so great? Show us with "This is all I have to choose from? I want my corner store to be #healthyonthegoNC" - or simply create your own caption with the hash tag! 

**Many thanks to Victoria Scholl, who has been interning in our Morrisville Office, for putting together this post!

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Farm to School Program in MN Produces Healthy Results

Check out the article posted this week in the Public News Service about the Farm to School Program happening in our state! (Photo Credit - Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

ST. Paul, Minn. - October is National Farm to School Month and in Minnesota, it's an event being celebrated in an ever-growing number of districts, in every corner of the state.

The Farm to School program links school districts with nearby farms, to open new markets for those growers and get more healthy and fresh foods into cafeterias. It's also aimed at educating children about where and how their food is grown, says Erin McKee VanSlooten, Farm to Institution senior program associate with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

"Minnesota is really a leader in farm to school," says VanSlooten. "We have been at the vanguard and doing a lot of innovative programs, trying to get more regionally sourced products into their meals." - Continue reading here

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MnDOT Starts Applicant Search for SRTS Grants

MnDOT talks about how they are seeking applicants for the Safe Routes to School grant, check it out!

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota schools and their partners are invited to apply for $1.25 million in Safe Routes to School grant funds for projects that will help more children safely walk and bicycle to school. Applications are due Jan. 9, 2015, and are available at http://www.dot.state.mn.us/saferoutes/, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Schools in Minnesota may apply for state grants in three categories:

SRTS Infrastructure Solicitation  – K-12 schools, in partnership with cities or counties, will receive grants to support infrastructure identified in Safe Routes to School planning efforts that improve safety or access for children walking and bicycling to school. MnDOT has $1 million in state funds for projects constructed in 2015 or 2016. Continue reading here

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Students Take Part In Walk To School Day

Check out the article posted today on www.publicnewsservice.com! Children all over Minnesota are taking part in Walk To School Day. (Photo: Elizabeth/Flickr)

ST. Paul, Minn. - Today is Walk to School Day, and the annual event comes as some school districts in Minnesota see a resurgence in students who are getting to class on their own. In the Sauk Rapids-Rice district, Superintendent Daniel Bittman says with the recent addition of sidewalks and crosswalks around Pleasantview Elementary, students, parents and staff are becoming more active.

"It's becoming part of a healthy-lifestyle choice," Bittman says. "It's not just about to and from schools. Families are taking that opportunity to be more active. And we know when kids are more active and engaged in healthier lifestyles, they do better in school."

Bittman says the improvements around Pleasantview were funded through Minnesota's Safe Routes to School program. The effort has helped a number of districts make improvements so kids can bike and walk safely to class, but demand in the state far exceeds available resources. Continue reading here.

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Idaho is One of Six States Where Obesity Rates Are Still Going Up

Guest Blogger: Grace Henscheid, Grassroots Advocacy Director

In early September the State of Obesity Report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust of America’s Health was released and it is clear there is still much work to be done in our fight against obesity.

While there are many statistics in the report one of the numbers that stood out to us was that Idaho is one of six states where obesity rates are still on the rise.

Idaho’s obesity rate in 2013 was 29.6% up from 21.8% in 2003. There are many factors that contribute to this increased number but the American Heart Association is determined to help every state control and improve these numbers. 

In order to lower these numbers we need to build communities that encourage healthy eating and active lifestyles. One of the programs the American Heart Association offers for free to people that are trying to improve their health is the “Life’s Simple 7” program. This program helps participants to manage heart risk by understanding the importance of getting active, controlling cholesterol, eating better, managing blood pressure, losing weight, reducing blood sugar and stopping smoking.

In addition to this program, the AHA is working in our communities to educate people about their risk factors and how they can take personal control over their health.

We are working to build healthier communities by passing state and local legislation. In the 2015 legislative session we will try again to pass minimum time requirements for physical education in our K-12 schools. We believe that by establishing physical activity early in life it will help children transition into active adults; one of the many factors in maintaining a healthy adult lifestyle.

While the news about Idaho’s obesity rate might be discouraging we aren’t giving up on turning around this dangerous trend. With help from advocates like you we believe it is a battle we can win.

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Register Now! "How-To" Advocate for the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP)

SHIP funding will be up for discussion at the Minnesota Legislature in 2015. Thursday November 6th, 2014 - 6:00 - 7:00 PM and Friday November 7th, 2014 - 12:00 - 1:00 PM. Join other advocates across Minnesota to learn about how you can advocate for SHIP! Learn tips and message points from our expert presenters to bring your local success stories to the ears of policymakers:

-Britta Orr, Executive Director, Local Public Health Association

-Rachel Callanan, Regional Vice President of Advocacy, American Heart Association

-Rebecca Thoman, Government Relations Specialist, American Cancer Society—Cancer Action Network

Who should attend? SHIP Leadership Team members, SHIP staff and grantees, local SHIP partners, local champions of SHIP.  This training is free, but advanced registration is required.

Please register here or contact Anne Simaytis at anne.simaytis@heart.org to reserve your spot by November 3rd, 2014.

 

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