Posts Tagged ‘Healthy communities’
It’s National Volunteer Recognition Week, which is very timely as Kaiser Permanente welcomes back the 30 volunteers who were in New Orleans rebuilding healthy communities, which were damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Volunteers spent five days completing six projects, which included repairing the homes of two families and building community gardens.
While many initial hurricane relief efforts have been completed, many Gulf Coast communities still have significant needs as they work towards long-term restoration. There continue to be stories from the community partners about those who have yet to move back into their homes because of severe damage from the storm. This is why Kaiser Permanente returned to the Gulf Coast this year and will continue to go until the work is finished.
For more photos and videos of the Kaiser Permanente team in New Orleans, visit KP’s Community Benefit site.
On Thursday, June 21, Microsoft—in collaboration with other government and business leaders, foundations and thought leaders—is facilitating a forum in Washington, D.C., on cross cutting approaches that contribute to building healthy communities. Topics for discussion during the meeting will include new paradigms for business and the health of the public, as well as health, education and workforce models. A focus of the day’s conversation will be on sharing and exploring the progress and dissemination of innovative private and public approaches being developed today.
Keynoting the event will be Assistant U.S. Surgeon General, James Galloway. Among other speakers at the event, Tyler Norris, vice president for Total Health partnerships at Kaiser Permanente, will touch on examples of cutting-edge solutions for building community health.
The event, which begins at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, is by invitation only, but there’ll be live tweeting. Follow all of the conversation via hash tag #betterhealth. Microsoft will be posting highlights from the event on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MicrosoftHealth. And for continued discussion after the event, check out Microsoft in Health’s LinkedIn page.
There’s a movement afoot to build more sustainable, livable, healthy communities. It is a movement that is growing in momentum and collective will, despite what many feel are overwhelming statistics showing the rise of obesity and chronic disease in this country. It is a movement being led by people serving across disciplinary fields and political perspectives—community leaders, health activists, philanthropic organizations, and government agencies—all seeking the goal of thriving, healthy communities.
The healthy, sustainable communities movement is getting a tremendous burst of momentum these days from the internet, and more specifically from the creation of a unique online interactive space where folks can go to network with others, find targeted resources, and see what kinds of health and sustainability initiatives are happening in their community and across the country. One space where this is taking place is called the Community Commons.
The Community Commons went live in October 2011 and has recently launched its 2.0 version that features enhanced resources and functionality. It is gaining wide acclaim and is being heralded as the online space for public health advocates to learn, connect with each other, and share resources. Earlier this month, the Community Commons was the recipient of a first place award at the “Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators App Challenge” announced at the 2012 National Health Promotion Summit in Washington, D.C.
Kaiser Permanente’s Catherine Brozena recently sat down with social entrepreneur Tyler Norris, who has played a fundamental role in shaping the creation of the Community Commons. We asked Tyler to share more about this movement for healthier communities and how the Community Commons is playing a pivotal role in advancing that movement.
Norris will be moderating a special Dialogue4Health web forum tomorrow on HBO’s Weight of the Nation documentary and accompanying public health campaign. Sponsored by the Public Health Institute and Kaiser Permanente, the forum will focus on exploring the key themes of the films and discuss how the assets available to individuals, organizations, and place-based partnerships can help create healthier built, food and beverage, social, and community environments. For more information or to register for the event, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 1, at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT, visit here.
Another aspect of food insecurity, which we continue to examine this week, is the existence of so-called “food deserts,” where people whose income levels do not afford them easy access to healthy, fresh produce live miles away from grocery stores and are left to seek out sustenance by other means. This often results in their having to rely on poor food choices that negatively impact their health and well-being — or lack of food altogether.
The Village Gardens community in northwest Portland, Ore. started as a simple, community-run garden in the midst of a mixed-income housing project. It has since sprouted into a fully-integrated community health project that stands as a powerful example of what can be accomplished when neighborhood residents, community-based organizations, non-profits and government organizations come together in support of people’s health and well-being. You can read more about this initiative here, but check out the video below for a view into Village Gardens.
Continuing our focus on food security and access, we have a Q&A with Arnell Hinkle, MPH, RD, CHES, executive director of CANFIT (Communities Adolescents Nutrition Fitness). Arnell has been nationally recognized for her work providing culturally appropriate nutrition and physical activity education training resources emphasizing youth leadership. Below is a brief excerpt of our conversation.
Arnell, why don’t we start with hearing about CANFIT, and how you are working to make sustainable change in low income communities and communities of color with regards to creating greater food access?
CANFIT was established in 1993 to bridge the gap between communities and policy makers when it comes to dietary and fitness issues for adolescents in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Today, we focus on youth engagement; we see it as an investment in sustainable change. We have worked with kids who developed the Youth Food Bill of Rights. And one of our current efforts, called the MO Project, focuses on teaching youth to use social media to advocate for healthier communities.
In terms of food access, help us connect the dots. What are the links between food security and health? Between food access and this country’s obesity epidemic?
Here’s the bottom line: People need access to food that supports health. From my perspective, there are really two food systems in the United States – one for those with means, and one for those with fewer means. And for those with fewer means, the food that is easy to access tends to be fast food, highly processed foods, foods higher in fat, sugar and sodium, fewer fresh fruits and vegetables, and more foods that contain hormones or chemicals – some of which can be obesogenic. None of those things support health. A big step would be improving the quality of the foods available to those with fewer means through the emergency food system (e.g., food banks and pantries) and the federal food system (e.g., school lunches, meals for the elderly).
What are your thoughts on food access and security in a week like this, with a holiday so focused on food?
It’s a tough time. With unemployment and inflation, people have less to begin with. And when it comes to expenses, the food dollar tends to be more elastic. Things like rent and car payments – they are usually fixed. So it tends to be people’s food budgets that are affected. And even in a week like Thanksgiving, a lot of people are forced to buy less or buy food that is less expensive, but often less healthy.
So what’s a small step an individual can take that can lead to meaningful change?
Write or call your legislators. Let them know you’re concerned. Make your voice heard.
This week, as many people prepare to celebrate abundance on the Thanksgiving holiday, we felt it worth looking at the topic of food security. Perhaps it’s a phrase some of us aren’t familiar with, but at the 1996 World Food Summit, the World Health Organization defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” It’s a complex issue touching on availability, access, economics and policy. To help us better understand the topic, we sat down with Kathy Mulvey, policy director for Community Food Security Coalition for a brief Q&A.
Kathy, thank you for taking the time to talk today. First, tell us a little about your organization — Community Food Security Coalition.
Our mission is to catalyze food systems that are healthy, sustainable, just, and democratic by building community voice and capacity for change. The coalition’s more than 500 organizational members come from anti-hunger, public health, sustainable agriculture, community economic development, and other sectors of the food movement.
Let’s look at the issue of food security from the perspective of most people this week — which is Thanksgiving. It’s a day dedicated to food in our culture — usually the abundance of it. What’s the reality in terms of food access? How big a problem is hunger for folks in the U.S.?
This is a time when we traditionally focus on food and family. But this Thanksgiving, in particular, given the economic uncertainty so many families face, the need for a strong safety net is more critical than ever. As of 2010, 14.5 percent of U.S. households were food insecure. That means millions of families simply do not have enough to eat and are hungry.
These facts can be overwhelming; it’s easy for people to feel helpless and powerless to make a difference. What can an individual do to take action and try to improve food security in his community?
It’s important for people to reach out to their legislators and demand to have a voice about where our food comes from. And on a grass-roots level, there are lots of things anyone can do: Start a garden in your community. Meet with your local school service director about getting locally sourced and farmed food into the cafeteria. Or volunteer at a food bank. Just take action.
To discover more about Community Food Security Coalition and its policy and grass roots efforts – including handouts on community food security programs and what one person can do to help, visit http://foodsecurity.org.
Today, we have the final podcast in a three-part conversation between Kaiser Permanente’s Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, and his colleague and adviser, Tyler Norris, about the future of healthy communities . Following the second segment, which focused on challenges to building and maintaining communities that support healthy lifestyles and choices, this third podcast is all about making an impact. How can organizations create change? How can one person make a difference? Ray and Tyler talk about the role of active civic engagement and how small, individual steps can lead to meaningful change.
Audio clip produced by Kaiser Permanente with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. www.storycorps.org
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