Tuesday, November 22, 2011

National Best Practices Brief Released!

As a part of the Healthy Eating Assessment, the third HKHC Buffalo policy brief was released!  This brief highlights national best policy practices as it pertains to healthy eating.  The brief takes a comprehensive look at food systems policy - from production to post-waste.  The next brief, to be released shortly, specifically focuses on the City of Buffalo and it's governing regulations.  Stay tuned!

Download the third brief: Planning to Eat? Innovative Local Government Plans and Policies to Build Healthy Food Systems in the United States

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The (d)evolution of the American Diet

"Uncle Sam says, Garden to Cut Food Costs."
National Archives, Records of the Office of War Information.
Sometimes it can be hard to imagine a time before the one we live in. When it comes to food, it seems hard to remember a time before large chain supermarkets, drive-through fast food, TV dinners and rampant obesity. But a couple of sites have great interactive timelines that remind us that not too long ago we did things differently.

Check 'em out and then leave us a comment. We'd love to hear thoughts on what the future of food could look like especially looking back at what it once was.

NY Times Timeline of a Standard American Diet

The Food Timeline

CNN Timeline of Obesity

Washington Post - How we got Here - Obesity Epidemic Timeline

US News and World Report Food Timeline

Other resources...
Reading Lists and Articles:
Diets and Dieting: A History of Weight Loss in America
Science Reference Section Science, Technology, and Business Division Library of Congress

Johnson and Wales Library Reading List

Leite's Culinaria Website Article

Delish.com History of Fast Food

Events, Videos and Exhibits:
....also an interesting event is going on at the National Archives on the US governments effect on the American Diet in case you are visiting DC between now and January.

Daily Motion Video Interviews with Ann Vileisis about her new book Kitchen Literacy

NYC Museum of Food - How New York Ate 100 Years Ago

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Use your feet to help people eat!

The 4th annual Walk Off Hunger to benefit the Food Bank of WNY will be held Saturday July 30th.  The walk is an easy stroll of less than two miles, beginning and ending at Temple Beth Am, 4660 Sheridan Drive in Williamsville.  Check-in is at 5:00 and the walk is at 6:00.
Registration is $15 for one person, $25 for a couple, and $30 for a family up to four. ($5 for each additional child)

Walkers with more than $500 in pledges will get gift cards, walkers with the most pledges will get prizes, and the first 25 children with $50 in pledges will get Speed Racer cars.
Buster Bison and Billy Buffalo will both be there, and Channel 2’s Jodi Johnston & 97 Rock’s Rob Lederman are the emcees.

The walk is followed by Summerfest, featuring food, entertainment, and children’s activities.
Sign up online at http://www.foodbankwny.org or check it out on Facebook.
Registration forms are also available at the service counter of Wegmans.

Friday, July 1, 2011

State Bans on Municipal Obesity Prevention Measures?

As states make hard decisions about budgets, some lawmakers are eying up public health initiatives to cut costs. Under pressure from the restaurant industry and business owners to reduce burdensome restrictions, some legislators concerned that government intervention in private industry will harm economic growth, feel emboldened to pass measures that effectively tie the hands of municipalities to regulate harmful business practices that affect their local residents. Many of these legislators justify such measures further because they believe that consumers are to blame for their “choices”. For example, on the topic of labeling requirements and restrictions on trans fats, Ken Johnson, a member of the Alabama House of Representatives, recently stated in a New York Times article that “It’s a lack of self-discipline many times, and even if we, say, limited a hamburger to being no more than 200 calories, it doesn’t mean I won’t choose to eat four of them.” He supported legislation in Alabama to prohibit municipalities from passing regulation on restaurants even though no municipality in that state had adopted regulations around nutritional labeling or nutritional standards for to date. Ironically, as a measure to reduce obesity, these types of regulations are aimed at helping consumers make better choices by giving them knowledge about what they are consuming. 

If economic austerity is the concern, then nothing provides a better return on investment then prevention. The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) estimates the potentially preventable costs of diabetes to Medicare was $1.3 billion in diabetes-related hospital costs and $386 million in potentially preventable hospital stays costs to Medicaid(Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2005). The American Dietetic Association’s Diabetes Care and Education group’s cost-effectiveness review of preventive programs found that lifestyle interventions were cost effective and in their findings state that “prevention is more cost-effective than intensive treatment of diabetes”(Patti Urbanski, Wolf, & Herman, 2007).

Obesity and obesity related diabetes are multifaceted health problems that are much more complicated then saying people need to make better decisions. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a policy statement based on new research calling for a reduction in screen time for children and a ban on junk food advertising because it encourages sedentary behaviors, mindless eating and targets children as consumers for poor quality foods (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011).  In that statement, Victor Strasburger, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Communications and Media, stated that “Thirty years ago, the federal government ruled that young children are psychologically defenseless against advertising.  Now, kids see 5,000 to 10,000 food ads per year, most of them for junk food and fast food,”. Clearly, the problem of obesity and obesity related diabetes can’t be reduced to a moral argument about “self-control”. 

Municipalities need to be able to implement disease prevention programs and initiatives. Without the legal authority to do so, the Santa Clara County supervisors would not have been able to adopt a policy that forbids fast food restaurants from selling meals with toys in an attempt to reduce the influence of marketing on children’s eating habits. The AAP clearly thinks that this type of advertising affects children. While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of these types of regulations, state level prohibitions on a municipality’s ability to control harmful business practices will eventually end up costing rather than saving money.  These types of bans make it harder for cities and towns to implement effective policies aimed at reducing public health concerns specific to the conditions and drivers of that community.

Many communities are introducing interesting and potentially fruitful policies to encourage healthy eating and increased activity. (Check out the links below) Should State legislators be able to prohibit these measures?

Boston’s Mayor Menino Issues Order to End Sugary Drink Sales on City Property http://www.bphc.org/Newsroom/Pages/TopStoriesView.aspx?ID=217

Santa Clara’s Fast Food Toy Ban

Sugary beverages bans see earlier post -

               Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2005). Economic and Health Costs of Diabetes: HCUP Highlight 1. . Retrieved from http://www.ahrq.gov/data/hcup/highlight1/high1.htm.
               American Academy of Pediatrics. (2011). MEDIA, KIDS AND OBESITY: IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT COUCH POTATOES.
               Patti Urbanski, et. al.  (2007). Cost-effectiveness Issues of Diabetes Prevention and Treatment. Retrieved from http://www.dce.org/pub_resources/files/cost_effective.pdf
               Strom, S. (2011). Local Laws Fighting Fat Under Siege. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/01/business/01obese.html

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Viva the Street Food Revolution!

Ummm...street food...it’s fast, affordable, convenient and desirable. Whose mouth doesn’t start watering at the sight of Lloyd’s taco truck as it rolls around the corner at lunch time? Over the last 5 years mobile food vending as really taken off; an explosion of gourmet, off-beat and regional food trucks are roaming cities from NYC to San Francisco. Not just tacos, ice cream and hot dogs any more. Food trucks offer everything from waffles to fancy grill cheese. Local residents (and tourists) follow them on twitter and flock to them wherever they appear. Whole festivals are popping up across the county to celebrate their yumminess. For example, this year Sacramento and Inland Empire celebrate their first annual festivals, while San Francisco’s festival will be three this year. 

Buffalo is not behind the trend. Lloyd’s Taco Truck, The Roaming Buffalo, The Whole Hog and others are serving food at local events and across the city but outdated or non-existent regulations/permitting issues cause difficulties for Mobile food vendors here and in other cities. Buffalo’s common council will address the issue in the coming months and many others have or will pass updated mobile vending regulations/permitting rules. This challenge also presents a unique opportunity to support and increase healthy and sustainable food practices.

Food on the go doesn't have to be a health "no"!
Mobile food offers a great alternative to fast food chains. Typically, unique and made to order, this new breed of food vendors has made street food cool by responding to the demand for tasty and diverse fast food made with fresh (and sometimes organic and local) ingredients . Part of what makes brick and mortar fast food restaurants popular is not the food. Rather, cheap prices and quick drive-through service make it irresistible to people on the go. Mobile food trucks capitalize on the fast pace of city living but offer an entirely different experience. Often sold out of trucks or carts, street food is a wonderful opportunity to showcase unique local and regional foods. Street food also offers a lower risk small business opportunity for food entrepreneurs.

Good Policies Make a Difference
Many city governments are also starting to recognize the potential of food trucks (or carts) to increase access to healthy and culturally preferred foods while providing increasing economic development in underserved neighborhoods. Some cities use city ordinances to incentivize access to produce through mobile vending. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Green Cart program made 1000 permits available to mobile food carts selling uncut/unprocessed produce in underserved neighborhoods. The program also incentivizes green cart ownership with low cost loans and technical assistance to entrepreneurs for the creation of green carts in targeted areas. The City of Chicago has an ordinance that reduces the cost of vendor permits to those who sell produce on their carts. While Mobile Produce Vendors are not new – Buffalo’s Massachusetts Avenue Project has been operating a mobile produce market for years –what is new, is that city governments are starting to recognize the health, equity and economic development opportunities that mobile food presents.

Even when city ordinances aren’t in place, other city agencies have used agency specific policies and/or request for proposal selection processes to restrict the type of foods that can be sold by instituting nutritional and sourcing guidelines. For example, the City of San Francisco Department of Parks and Recreation favors permits for food vendors that source local, sustainable and minimally processed foods in city parks and Kansas City’s Departments of Parks and Recreation favors vendors who adhere to specific nutritional guidelines and allow “healthiest” vendors to roam up to 3 city parks with one permit. 

The Mobile Food Movement is here to stay and there is an opportunity not only to grow the local food economy but also to increase access to healthy and culturally preferred foods in underserved neighborhoods. It’s up to cities now to create innovative policies and regulations that facilitate mobile food as well as favor healthy vending, increased access to food and food entrepreneurship.

Moveable Feast: Fresh Produce and the NYC Green Cart Program

Mobile Food Blog http://roaminghunger.com/
Mass Ave Project Mobile Market http://www.mass-ave.org/MobileMarket.htm
Tester, J. M., Stevens, S. A., Yen, I. H., & Laraia, B. A. (2010). An Analysis of Public Health Policy and Legal Issues Relevant to Mobile Food Vending. American Journal of Public Health, 100(11), 2038. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

WGRZ News Buffalo. (2011)
City Lacks Permit Process for New Food Trucks. Retrieved at http://downtown.wgrz.com/news/news/city-lacks-permit-process-new-food-trucks/55769

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chicago's mayor wants win over food deserts!

Chicago's Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, wants to get rid of food deserts and he's turning to urban agriculture and food retailers to make it happen. Using planning tools like mapping, local ordinances and economic development incentives, the Mayor hopes to ensure implementation of policies aimed at increasing food access.

Urban Agriculture...
In a progressive move, Mayor Emanuel sees urban agriculture as a part his plan to "win" the battle against food deserts and plans to see food grown in the city sold in the city. He also plans to eliminate burdensome barriers for farmers and develop site guidelines for urban growing.

Mayor Emanuel sees large supermarkets as an important part of the plan to eliminate food deserts. According to the ABC news article he plans to designate certain neighborhoods as food deserts and then provide incentives for the construction of supermarkets in those areas. However, smaller markets are concerned that they may lose business if big chains come into those areas.

Don't forget corner stores...
We applaud the Chicago's commitment to increasing food access for all residents and suggest that they include corner stores in the conversation. Corner stores can be a critical piece in increased food access since they are already located in food deserts and are very accessible to residents without cars. If provided with technical assistance or other incentives, corner Stores could have a positive impact on reducing food deserts and also provide economic development in struggling neighborhoods. HKHC Buffalo facilitates a Healthy Corner Stores Initiative in Buffalo. We are working to bring healthier foods to more people by eliminating policy barriers and partnering with the economic development field to provide loans and incentives to small grocery stores for equipment purchases.

To see how corner stores can have a positive impact check out what other cities across the country are doing as part of the Healthy Corner Stores Initiatives

Philadelphia, PA

New Haven, CT

Washington DC

Providence, RI

Minneapolis, MN

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Check out the 2011 HKHC Annual Meeting presentations...

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Annual Meeting took place on June 1-3. Check out the presentations and see what other sites have going on!

2011 HKHC Annual Meeting Website (click here)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cities battling sweetened beverages...

Here are some recent interesting articles about the challenges and opportunities of policies directed at reducing excess sugar consumption by targeting sweetened beverages...

LA Unified Removes Flavored Milk From Menus - LA Times

City Council souring on Nutter Plan to tax sweet drinks - Philly.com

The Proposed Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages - Vermont Public Radio
(4 part radio show debating the issue from both sides)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Amazing Videos - Vote today (and everyday until 6/26)!

Two of our partners – Green Options Buffalo and the Massachusetts Avenue Project – have entered videos into the GrowWNY video contest. The prize is a much-needed $10,000. Please vote for our partners at the Facebook pages below. You can vote for two a day – perfect since we have two partners entered!

Please show your support – and share with your friends and colleagues. Get out the vote!

Green Options – Why I ride

MAP – Green Thumb-It’s Catching On:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Great Turnout at the Youth Ambassador Training!

Around 30 Buffalonians came out for the Youth Ambassador Training last Thursday at the Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. HKHC Buffalo and the Massachusetts Avenue Project worked with local high school students to plan and run a meeting that prepared young people in Buffalo to participate in the city's Green Code Process.

The training included land use planning activities, including a map activity that allowed the students to design their own city. Students were given a quick crash-course in land use and zoning - then given maps to design a city that they would want to live in.

Other activities included P/P/P - Policy, Program, Project. This activity helped students to understand the difference between the three, and narrowed their focus for what the Green Code meetings would be about.

Finally, students drafted their own talking points for the Green Code meetings. They asked themselves what is good about my neighborhood? What should change? Each student committed to going to at least one meeting, and found partners that were attending the same meeting. Students were able to create an accountability network to motivate and support each other at the meetings.

A big thank you to the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo for supporting the youth training. And thanks to all the great youth that came out! We hope to see all of Buffalo at the Green Code meetings!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Youth Training Announced for Green Code Meetings

The next round of Green Code meetings has been announced! The meetings will take place between Monday, February 28th and Saturday, March 5th. Check out the map to find the meeting closest to you!

HKHC Buffalo has been working closely with its partners to determine the best ways to get Buffalo youth out to the meetings. We have met with many community groups and youth leadership groups - including the Buffalo Public Schools Inter-High Council - to talk about the importance of the youth voice at the Green Code meetings.

Our youth representatives, Adriana and Robert, told us that students will need some help finding their voice around issues of land use and zoning. When we asked how, they responded that a youth-led training could help students find buddies to attend the meeting with, learn about land use and create talking points so they could convey a clear message. We listened.

A free training for Buffalo youth interested in participating in the Green Code meetings will take place this Thursday, February 24th from 5:00 - 8:00 pm. Dinner will be provided to all attendees, and the training is open to middle- and high-school students. The meeting will take place at the Innovation Center at 640 Ellicott Street.

We know school is out this week - and that students are excited for time off and families are relaxing together. We have worked with the youth leaders to make this training fun - and students can count the meeting attendance toward their community service requirement! Plus, participating in the Green Code process is too important to pass up. We need to hear from youth and their families about what they want most out of their city.

RSVP for the training to Erin at 882-5327 or sharkey@mass-ave.org. You can download the flyer here. See you there!