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Texans testify in support of Grocery Access Investment

On Thursday, March 19, Texans representing a variety of businesses and populations in Texas testified on behalf of HB 1485, the Texas Grocery Access Investment Act, in a hearing held by the House Committee on Economic and Small Business Development. Only a day after a large Advocating for Heart day during which youth advocates and volunteers from around the state advocated their legislators on behalf of decreasing childhood obesity and increasing access to healthy food in Texas, the Committee heard compelling testimonies in support of HB 1485.

This bill, introduced by Representative Eddie Rodriguez of Austin and Representative Patricia Harless of Houston, would create the Texas Grocery Access Investment Fund within the Texas Department of Agriculture, to provide grants and low interest loans to grocery store operators to open new stores, or renovate or expand stores, in low and moderate-income or remote rural areas throughout Texas that do not have access to healthy foods. The goal is to improve the health of Texans who lack access to healthy food by addressing the lack of grocery stores in underserved communities, while boosting the local economy in these communities.

Tania Noelle Boughton of Dallas, founder of the “Check the Light before You Bite!” educational program for children, testified that even if children know how to choose healthy food and are able to choose it at school, they have little chance to grow up healthy if they are not able to access healthy food at home. By incentivizing business owners to open grocery stores in underserved communities, Texas could help these children fight obesity and drive down high health care costs.

Tania Boughton
   
Amber Cooney of Austin, Director of Development and Communications at PeopleFund, described how assistance from Community Development Financial Institutions such as PeopleFund can help grocers overcome the barriers to entry in underserved communities. Improving access to healthy food in low-income communities in both rural and urban settings goes beyond improving diet and health outcomes—bringing new food outlets into underserved areas can provide an economic stimulus in communities that need it most. Grocery stores often serve as anchors, spurring local economic development by creating new jobs, revitalizing commercial districts, improving nearby housing values, and generating additional sales tax.
Amber Cooney
  

Other witnesses testifying in support of the bill included:

  • Dan Gillotte, Chief Executive Grocer, Wheatsville Co-op, Austin
  • Houston City Council Member Stephen Costello
  • Jenny Ayer, Children at Risk
  • Dr. Deanna Hoelscher, University of Texas School of Public Health, and Director of the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living

Dan Gillotte
   
 Council Member Stephen Costello

 Back to CloserToMyGrocer.com

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New School P.E. Benchmarks Considered for MN

The Public News Service posted an aritcle this morning on developing grade-specific benchmarks for P.E. classes in Minnesota, check it out below!

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Getting regular exercise is one of the easiest ways to combat childhood obesity, and a bill awaiting a hearing at the state Capitol aims to make sure Minnesota school children are being active.

State Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, said the legislation calls for the updating of statewide standards for physical education for the first time in more than a decade, along with the development of grade-specific benchmarks.

"This will add three new questions to an existing report that school districts are required to submit asking for their information on the quality of and quantity of physical education classes that kids receive in their schools," Dettmer said. - Continue Reading Here


Photo: Jim Larrison/Flickr

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Video: OKC & Food Access

If you have a car in OKC, chances are you can quickly cover the miles between you and the closest grocery store. Chances are, you don't have to think twice about where you can find healthy foods or how long it would take you to get there. Chances are, food access is not an issue for you. 

But imagine if you didn't have a car. Could you walk to a grocery store from your house? Even if it's close by, are there sidewalks or lights? Maybe you'd have to take a bus and haul heavy grocery bags back with you. Maybe you'd only be able to take that long bus ride once a month and have learned that buying fresh foods isn't very cost effective when you need groceries to last 30 days.

(Please visit the site to view this video)

For many in our city, low access to fresh & affordable foods is an every day problem. Finding the foods necessary for healthy heart is difficult, if not impossible, in many parts of OKC.

We believe that can change.

This year we are launching an initiative to bring healthier food into neighborhood corner stores and markets. This will help thousands of individuals and families to have access to healthy snacks and meals every day. Want to get involved? Sign a letter to your city council member and let them know that food access in our city is important to real people and real neighbors!

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Advocating for Heart: Take action to get Texas #CloserToMyGrocer!

On March 18, youth advocates and volunteers from across Texas will be Advocating for Heart in Austin to ask their elected officials to bring them closer to their grocer!

Follow along on social media using the hashtag #CloserToMyGrocer and at @YoureTheCureTX.

Join the movement and take action today! Click here to ask your lawmakers to help fight childhood obesity and increase access to healthy foods, by supporting Grocery Access Investment in Texas.

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Friendly Reminder: Nevada Lobby Day is March 31st Register Today

During this busy time of the year, I wanted to friendly remind you that Nevada’s Lobby Day is around the corner on March 31st! Can we count on you to be there?

Registration is free, but space is limited, so register today!

At the event, advocates from across the state will gather at the Capitol in Carson City to lobby for heart healthy legislation.  This legislation includes legislation to improve Stroke systems of care, support for CPR in Schools and many other health related issues. No advocacy experience is necessary; training will be provided. It promises to be an exciting day of advocacy. We hope you’ll join us!

For more information on our legislative priorities or ways to get involved, please contact Ben Schmauss or Josh Brown.

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The Open Truth Campaign

The Open Truth campaign is a youth-focused effort to highlight the health impacts of sugary drinks and expose precision marketing practices that target young people and communities of color. The multimedia campaign includes videos created by Bay Area youth from The Bigger Picture Campaign. The youth videos and other features of the Open Truth campaign are at www.opentruthnow.org.

Almost one-quarter of teens today have pre-diabetes – double the rate of just 10 years ago. One in three youth born in the U.S. after the year 2000 will get type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes (1 in 2 African American and Latino youth) along with some or all of its major health consequences including stroke, kidney failure, amputations and blindness. 

A major cause of this epidemic is the consumption of sugary drinks. Just one 12-ounce soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar — more than the AHA recommended daily maximum for adults and 3 times the recommended maximum for kids. Studies show that drinking just one 12-oz can of soda per day can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by nearly one-third and can lead to significant increased risk of diabetes, tooth decay and other health problems.

Studies show that sugary drink companies spend more than $28 million a year on marketing campaigns specifically targeting youth of color. Through the Open Truth campaign, Bay Area youth are talking back to the sugary drinks industry, demanding the truth about the negative health effects of sugary drinks and an end to marketing tactics that target them.

The Open Truth campaign aims to:

  1. Increase awareness about how sugary drinks are making us sick;
  2. Expose the tactics of the sugary drinks industry, which targets young people, parents, and communities of color in order to increase profits and brand loyalty; and
  3. Inspire policy changes that will increase access to healthy drinks, limit marketing to kids, educate consumers, and provide funds for sugary drink education.

The Open Truth Campaign is a collaboration between the Shape Up San Francisco (project of the Population Health Division of the SFDPH) and The Bigger Picture (Youth Speaks and Center for Vulnerable Populations/UCSF), Alameda County Department of Public Health, Sonoma County Department of Health Services, and the American Heart Association.

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Heart Month Recap: Capitol Goes Red

Written by Kula Koenig, Gov. Relations Director, CA

Capitol Goes Red 2015 was a successful event with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus) discussing our sponsored American Heart Month Resolution (SCR 13) on the Senate floor. After the resolution passed with unanimous support, AHA volunteers took a picture with Senator Jackson and a few of her colleagues. 

Up on the fourth floor, healthcare professionals from our sponsor Sutter Vascular Health performed health screenings for over 60 Capitol staffers and legislators who participated in Capitol Goes Red. Assemblymember Tom Lackey and Assemblymember Young Kim (pictured) were the first to arrive when doors opened at 8:30am eager to get screened and make it to the Assembly floor session which started at 9am. Throughout the day we had a steady dream of law makers and their staff come take advantage of not only the screenings, but the healthy snacks and fun tchotchkes as well. Those apple cutters were a hit!

We were able to provide information about AHA’s mission and our current work around tobacco taxation, e-cigarettes, fighting the detrimental effects of overconsumption of sugar sweetened beverages, and requiring high school students learn CPR so that they can be lifesavers. All in all, Capitol Goes Red was a wonderful opportunity to share with those at the Capitol the wonderful, lifesaving work we all do at the American Heart Association.

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Illinois State University and American Heart Association Day at the Capitol

On March 4th, the very first Illinois State University/American Heart Association Day at the Capitol took place in Springfield. 50 students from the exercise physiology program at ISU, led by You’re the Cure volunteers Karen Dennis and Dale Brown, attended a morning training and afternoon of lobbying to protect physical education (P.E.) in Illinois. Some of the highlights are below:

  • The students visited their own lawmakers and dropped-off personalized notes asking their legislators to protect P.E. Some of them even got to meet with their legislators for 30-45 minutes to discuss the issue! In all, student constituents visited 24 Senators and 27 Representatives. Highlights included meetings with Rep. Keith Sommers, Sen. Bill Cunningham, Sen. Chris Nybo, Rep. Peter Breen, Sen. Jim Oberweis and Sen. Jason Barickman. 
  • Prior to the day, the students collected 185 petitions that they were then able to deliver to 38 Senators and 53 Representatives which helped make out reach that day even larger.
  • The students also got a tour of the Capitol and were invited to enter the Governor’s office and even got to sit at his desk.

This event would not have been possible without Karen Dennis and Dale Brown who allowed us to steal their class away for the day and teach them a little about advocacy. This was a great opportunity and we are looking forward to partnering with ISU in the future!

More photos from the day can be found on our Facebook page here:

http://on.fb.me/1Mlo0Ty

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Last Chance! Register for the MHK Lobby Day on March 25th!

The Minnesotan's for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby day is two weeks away on Wednesday, March 25th at the Minnesota History Center! This event's focus is to advocate for policy that will help combat childhood obesity like fighting for quality physical education in schools, funding for the Statewide Help Improvident Program (SHIP) and funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.  Register now to join advocates from Minnesota for this all day event to learn about the issues and meet with your lawmakers to ask them for their support. Breakfast and lunch is included. No cost to attend but advanced registration is required.

Don't miss out on this great event and register here now or call Jess at (952) 278-7928.

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Healthy Native Hearts Luncheon

Guest Blogger: Wendy Zheng, Multicultural Initiatives Director

On February 18th about 50 Native American community members participated in the Healthy Native Hearts luncheon at Chehalis Tribal Community Center hosted by American Heart Association and Chehalis Tribal Wellness Center. Participants received cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure screenings.

Native American children have the highest obesity rate in the nation, about 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. Heart disease is the number one killer of Native American women. The hope of the summit was to educate and teach Native Americans about the risks of heart disease and what they can do for themselves and their families to prevent it.

Guest speaker Dr. Lance Ray from Chehalis Tribal Wellness Center gave a presentation on heart health, Life Simple 7 and tobacco cessation. LPN Ate’ha Triance led a 10-minute chair exercise during the event with attendees. In addition, a nutritionist from the Tribal Wellness Center demonstrated a healthy recipe of a berry yogurt parfait replacing the standard granola with quinoa. Tribal Council Chairman Don Secena joined participants for the luncheon, was recognized by American Heart Association with an award plaque and gave a brief remark emphasizing the importance of heart health for the Native community and commended the collaboration between AHA and Chehalis Tribe.

We are truly honored to work with the Chehalis Tribe and thank Tribal Council Chairman Secena for his outstanding support.

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