Feb 16 2012

Public Health News Roundup: February 16

USDA Grants Support Local Efforts to Fight Hunger and Food Insecurity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced 27 grants to local organizations to build community food systems and fight hunger and food insecurity. The new projects, totaling $4.8 million in funding, include a teen-run community kitchen, faith-based community food assessments, a program to help indigenous people return to healthful eating, and a youth-led food security movement. Read more on food and nutrition.

Group releases Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars

The Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental group in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has released its fourth consumer guide to toxic chemicals in cars. Researchers tested more than 200 of the most popular 2011- and 2012-model vehicles for chemicals that “off-gas” from parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats. These chemicals contribute to “new car smell” and a variety of acute and long-term health concerns, according to Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in a car every day, toxic chemical exposure inside vehicles can be a major source of indoor air pollution. Overall vehicle ratings are improving, according to the guide. The guide contains ratings for specific makes of cars.

HUD Proposes Budget Renews Sustainable Communities Grants

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that HUD’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal includes $100 million to fund Regional Planning and Community Challenge Grants. The grants are part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which is an association between HUD, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, joining the federal government with local partners to support local leadership, local resources, and local innovation.

The communities that have received these grants vary from rural communities in West Virginia and South Dakota to cities like Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Austin and Memphis; who through these grants have partnered with their local business community to create sustainable economic development plans.

HUD has also released the Sustainability Resource Center webpage, which highlights projects and best-practices from sustainability projects around the nation. Categories in the Resource Center include economic competiveness, housing and transportation choices, regional planning, green building and rural and tribal sustainability. Read more about the Partnership for Sustainable Communities in a Q&A with HUD's Shelley Poticha.

Tags: Community Health, Environment, Housing, News roundups, Nutrition, Public and Community Health, Safety, Smart Growth, Transportation