Jan 9, 2020, 10:00 AM, Posted by
The Nutrition Facts label just got its first big makeover in 20 years. See why the updates will be a game-changer for parents and families.
For many of us, January 1 brings New Year’s resolutions—and those resolutions often have something to do with a renewed commitment to better health. As we all know, of course, these resolutions can sometimes lose steam after a few months...or even weeks...or sometimes just days. Fortunately, for those of us who have made commitments to eat healthier in 2020, we’re all getting a hand to ensure those resolutions can stick for the long-term.
We’re all familiar with the Nutrition Facts label. This is the label that appears on billions of food and beverage products, giving us the lowdown on how healthy (or not so healthy) items are based on metrics like calories, fat, sugar, salt, carbohydrates, protein, and various vitamins and minerals. The label has been mandatory under a federal law enacted in 1990.
On January 1, an updated Nutrition Facts label took effect covering all food and beverage products from manufacturers with more than $10 million in sales (most manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales get an additional year to comply). This milestone is a long time coming—the previous label had been in effect for 20 years and it’s been six years since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first proposed updates. RWJF submitted comments in support of the proposed changes, which will empower consumers and families to make healthier purchasing decisions.
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Nov 25, 2019, 10:00 AM, Posted by
New report shows that small businesses create jobs and wealth and are imperative to healthy, thriving and equitable communities. Small businesses represent tremendous untapped potential to promote health equity and create opportunities for everyone to live healthier lives.
On a recent trip to Ferguson, Missouri, I visited a locally owned coffee shop that was filled with people working on laptops, visiting with friends, reading and studying. The walls were covered in fliers with community news and people were connected with neighbors. Sound familiar? It’s like thousands of other coffee shops. Across America, there are businesses like these where the owners and employees have their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in the neighborhood.
Small businesses of all types are in just about every community in the United States—in fact, companies with fewer than 100 employees make up 98 percent of all businesses in America and more than 43 percent are in low-income communities. They are helping to create healthy, equitable communities through the assets, income and jobs they create. People walk in their doors every day and share information or ask for advice—from barber shops and hair salons, to hardware stores and corner stores, to accounting firms and yoga studios.
For those of us working to create a Culture of Health and advance equity, small businesses and their leaders could be ideal partners—so why don’t we engage them more often?
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Nov 14, 2019, 2:00 PM, Posted by
Katharine Ferguson, Katrina Badger
It’s time to think differently about investing in rural America and the way we approach health and equity across its diverse communities. New research and resources show the critical connection between health, rural community and economic development.
Thursday, November 21, was National Rural Health Day. You might expect the paragraphs that follow to be about hospital closures or opioids, struggling dairy farmers and falling life expectancy among rural women. These phenomena are true, so we could do just that. However, we want to challenge conventional wisdom and prompt fresh thinking about rural America, the drivers of health, and the role of community and economic development in both. From what we are learning, this broader lens is central to realizing health equity and a better rural futures.
In our predominantly urban nation, the words “rural America” often conjure images of farm country, small towns and white people living in places that once boomed and have since busted. But the real rural America is far more diverse and complex. Dr. Veronica Womack, a political scientist, advocate for black farmers, and RWJF Interdisciplinary Research Leader, whose work has helped bring new research and investment to her rural region, is case-in-point. Womack grew up in Greenville, Alabama—population 8,000—which is part of the “Black Belt,” a largely rural region in the coastal low-land south where black folks outnumber white folks. Economic opportunity is hard to come by—and health suffers as a result—in this region where poverty, racist policies and discrimination along with systemic disinvestment persist.
All the same, Dr. Womak grew up with the idea that you give of what you have, to help those around you. No matter if what you have is not much. In Dr. Womak’s words: “If you’re not willing to share it and work for the betterment of the community, then you know, why even have it?” Womak’s experience growing up with her single mom, who worked as a nurse and spent her weekends bringing medicine and other care to elders around the community, didn’t jive with how the nation viewed her region and her people. Where others saw deficits, Womak could see assets—people willing to work hard and support each other, strong ties, and innovative ideas to get things done.
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Aug 15, 2019, 10:15 AM, Posted by
This community development advocate has learned that great things happen when residents are invested in, and empowered to, change their world.
My hometown of Eatonville, Florida, is known as “the town that Freedom built,” and for good reason: It was founded in 1887 by black freedmen on land they bought from a rare white landowner willing to sell large tracts to black people. Today, it’s the oldest historically black incorporated town in America.
This place exists and has survived because of citizen leadership, vision, and persistence. Many people here, like me, have multigenerational ties to the town, and all of us take deep pride in Eatonville’s role in history. Many people who live or work here, or attend one of our many churches, have contributed to building a Culture of Health in town and winning recognition for our efforts from the state of Florida and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. But the spirit of collaboration that made that possible didn’t happen by accident. Eatonville has proactively empowered citizens to become leaders. We value the voices and contributions of all of our citizens.
This is how real systemic change happens.
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Jun 6, 2019, 1:00 PM, Posted by
Jaclyn Wallen, Vincent Acevez
This 2018 Culture of Health Prize winner helps officers and the people they serve deal with the ‘bad things’ they witness and experience every day.
A veteran police officer in Cicero, Illinois, is quick with an answer when the therapist asks him: “What’s the worst thing you’ve witnessed on the job?”
Instantly, it’s 2010, an icy Valentine’s Day, and Officer Joseph Melone is staring in horror as flames engulf a three-story house. Melone is an arson specialist, and when the fire subsides, it’s his job to pick through the rubble. Seven people are missing. The oldest is 20; the youngest is that man’s newborn.
Melone finds the remains of the three-day-old baby.
“The 911 call from inside that place will haunt me until the day I die,” the 47-year-old Melone, now a sergeant, recalls. “You can hear the fire crackling around the caller and nobody could get in there.”
The story spills out from Melone as part of a training to give officers with the Cicero Police Department better tools for dealing with trauma in the lives of crime victims, as well as their own. The 8-hour course was built from scratch and tailored to the needs of the Cicero Police Department by local nonprofit staff from Youth Crossroads and the domestic violence agency Sarah’s Inn, as well as a psychologist from the local school district.
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Apr 4, 2019, 2:00 PM, Posted by
Monica Hobbs Vinluan, Shauneequa Owusu
For far too long laws and policies have been used to promote the health of some, but not all. A new guide from ChangeLab Solutions puts the blueprint for change in everyone’s hands.
Change is not easy and it takes time. It can be especially challenging when we’re working to change policies and systems that have been in place for decades. But we know change is necessary because many people in America still face discrimination, live in poverty, and do not have the basics they need to be healthy.
We also know that some places are making progress to replace policies that are driving inequities with new policies that can help close health gaps. Places like Newark, N.J., where a unique collaboration led by the state’s largest health care system is accelerating a movement to transform the community’s food system.
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Mar 28, 2019, 2:00 PM, Posted by
A safe, secure home is where health begins. To build more equitable, healthier communities, we need to boost people’s ability to afford a good place to live.
A roof over our heads. Shelter from the storm. A beautiful day in the neighborhood. Home is where the heart is.
None of these phrases directly talks about health. But in our common language, we clearly recognize the centrality to our well-being and our happiness of the homes and neighborhoods in which we live.
In fact, there is a strong and growing evidence base linking our homes to our health. Where we can afford to live impacts where we live—and our neighborhood’s location can make it easier or harder to get a quality education and earn living wages, to afford to eat nutritious food, and to enjoy active lifestyles. And when we’re spending too much of our income on rent or a mortgage, that leaves little to pay for transportation to work or the doctor or to put healthy food on the table for our kids.
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Feb 19, 2019, 3:00 PM, Posted by
National Civic League
The Southeastern San Diego Cardiac Disparities Project works with faith organizations to provide holistic heart health programs in African-American communities. Its first steps are confronting racism and building trust.
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the National Civic League website. We are reposting it with permission this February which is Black History Month as well as American Heart Month.
The Southeastern San Diego Cardiac Disparities Project is improving the cardiovascular health of black residents in South San Diego by altering two fundamental systems that can influence their health: faith organizations and health care providers.
Elizabeth Bustos, director of community engagement for Be There San Diego, and Reverend Gerald Brown, executive director at United African American Ministerial Action Council are leading the effort. They are recipients of the 2017 Award for Health Equity, which was presented to them by the National Civic League and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Award honors leaders who are changing systems and showing how solutions at the community level can lead to health equity.
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