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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

National Diaper Bank Network

I think it's fairly well known that there is such a thing as a food bank/pantry etc... When it comes to locating additional resources for families and/or individuals in need there is an organization called the National Diaper Bank Network which is based in New Haven Connecticut.Executive Director and Huffington Post contributor Diane Goldblum spoke with me about her work with the NDBN.

What are your thoughts on why food pantries that have clothing and various other products such as medicine and home goods may not carry much by way of baby products?
"I think there are a couple of reasons, often they're dealing with donated products and so there are a lot more clothes and home goods that people replace regularly. Baby goods are very closely monitored and changed frequently, even cribs we used when my son was a baby are no longer acceptable by modern safety standards so there a lot of legal issues."

How did you come to find out about the National Diaper BankNetwork?
"I am the founder and Executive Director. About 10 years ago I started the New Haven Diaper Bank. In New Haven CT, I saw parents who had to keep their children in a diaper for more than a day.
I saw a level of poverty in my neighborhood that was really just untenable."

What kinds of factors do you feel should be taken into consideration while putting together ideas about creating assistance programs that are sustainable with or without grants?
"I think that there is a great deal you can do in a community without significant financial support. There are a lot of small organizations that take in used goods and redistribute them and that can be done in your house. When you get to a certain tipping point;then you need money. It's a matter of finding in your community individuals who have some money who want to support what your doing."

Any thoughts on patterns that are found in rural areas measured against urban areas?
It is, "harder for people in rural areas because transportation is such an issue; services are spread out."

This may seem like an obvious question.Why don't hospitals have some kind of public health mandate to provide such an essential item?
"Hospitals sort of generally speaking don't have mandates; they come from insurance regulations or public health regulations.Diapers are not included in any insurance formula.Food stamps for example is purely a nutritional program so they don't pay for hygenie products. Insurance, when you look at the basis for what it is supposed to be, it's for emergency situations;hospitals providediapers if children are in patients."

What can people do to empower those in need of these services?
"I don't consider giving people diapers a band-aid or a handout, I think that parenting is incredibly difficult, it's incredibly difficult with resources and support.Without those things we take away from the child's potential. When you reach out to a child you are reaching out to two generations.The mother child bond is increased when a mother or parent is able to have that really positive interaction with their child.
I have a social worker background. I  have always felt like there is a huge disparity in income and in what's available to people and how much that really impacts this next generation. I grew up in a very left of liberal household."


On the National Diaper Bank Network website they have a feature on the left hand side of the home page called Find a Diaper Bank. There are listings on the site in various locations such as Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,Michigan, Colorado, Washington, DC, New Jersey,Arizona, Florida etc...

I am always interested in learning more about public health, and now consider this to be a public health issue. Certainly, in order to have a thoughtful conversation about issues such as quality of life for young families overall and access to diapers and other hygiene products in particular, it makes sense to cultivate an awareness of how public health is tied to other social topics such as cost of living as well as access to gainful employment as well as being able to earn a living wage. I usually keep my posts centered around facts and the direct personal experiences of those I interview. That being said I welcome comments about the issue of fair wages.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Is Gun Violence a Public Health Issue?

I believe I originally wrote this post in December of 2014. I am re-posting today given the recent events in Orlando, Florida.

Is Gun Violence a Public Health Issue?

How is public health defined, who decides what that definition is and on what information are they basing their decision? Who has a seat at the table while these topics are being discussed?

Recently, I found myself thinking; " How many people have to die before action is taken to decrease gun violence?" I suppose there is an argument for the fact that all societies are desensitized to their own failings.

Where then, must we go to gather together those that have the right thinking on the issues that hold us back from living up to the ideals of our society?

Although I don't recall the first time I thought about the idea of fostering discussion around gun violence as a public health issue, even a brief google search shows that this topic is already out there.

There's a lot to delve into here...

I do think that a civil society has an obligation to provide certain services to its citizens. Health care, being one of them. In order to move from talking about heady ideas and lofty goals to actually identifying what specific steps to take to create a better quality of life when it comes to access to health care, you have to get into economics.

An idea by itself is stagnant without the necessary resources and oversight to actually take action.

Rather than write this entire post from an editorial perspective, I think it will be more useful for me to give an overview of some of the voices that have chimed in to the discussion about whether or not gun violence is a public health issue.

No matter how you define it, public health only moves forward when facts are given pride of place over everything else.

If you google Public Health, the first entry that comes up is the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Other sources of information are the WHO (World Health Organization) and the APHA (American Public Health Association).

If you want to see a fact sheet on gun violence, the APHA has a resource titled, "Gun Violence has an article that reviews several different perspectives on the topic of whether or not gun violence is a public health issue.

Diversity of thought  is necessary to yield any kind of forward thinking approach to improving our society; thus community activists, students, think tanks and colleges and universities should all have a role in shaping the discourse around gun violence and how best we can understand it and prevent it.

I spoke with Professor Jon Vernick, Co-Director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research  at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health about the idea of framing gun violence as a public health issue.

"Guns claim more than 30,000 lives in the United States alone every year and another additional 70,000 or so non-fatal violent injuries are associated with guns. By thinking of it as a public health problem we can consider all aspects of the problem, not just gun deaths by homicide which are of interest to the criminal justice world, (but) we can also  think about suicide and accidental gun deaths. We can consider upstream solutions. Whereas the criminal justice system thinks primarily, though not exclusively about punishment, public health thinks primarily about trying to keep people from getting hurt in the first place.

Public health also has a tradition of focusing on the vector of a particular cause. In this topic, the vector is the firearm. There is a history in public health about 'how we can modify the vector'; how to keep guns out of the hands of a violent person in the first place.

There is a history of success that public health has had in other areas such as motor vehicles.By thinking of guns as a public health problem maybe there is inspiration that can be drawn from other successes."

This quote brings to the surface the idea that there are multiple aspects to gun violence which, in my opinion, is an important point. In order to make progress it is necessary for the major media outlets to inform the public of the kinds of things that are taking away from our ideas and ideals as a nation. Moving forward, it is absolutely critical to have more in-depth conversations about preventative measures. These conversations, guided by a nuanced perspective of the topic(s), inform the voting public and the wheels of progress turn...or at least that's the idea.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

B Lab

What is a B Corp?
Earlier this year I had a conversation with B Lab Public Relations Director Katie Kerr. I was interested in the concept that a for profit company would have social good as a core value. Over 700 companies in the United States alone are Certified B Corporations.
"I think that my calling was really to social good in general, the way I was raised. In order for us to be truly prosperous we need to have all of our resources and all of our tools put to creating a better world. 
B Lab is a non profit organization "that serves a global movement of entrepreneurs using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems."
There are over 700 certified B Corporations in the US alone. How can you get a clearer picture of what is at the core of how these companies operate? B Lab offers B Analytics which provides a way to conduct research to guide consumer decisions on which companies to support.
In addition to functioning as a resource for consumers, B Lab provides a way for business owners to go forward in areas such as measuring impact, reporting to stakeholders, and creating an individualized approach to improvement to name a few.
"Today, there is a growing community of more than 950 Certified B Corps from 32 countries and 60 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business"

How do you begin to unpack the idea of redefining success in business into several manageable areas of focus in order to reach that goal? "I think that the idea of having a larger goal with many pieces is
ultimately what makes this a successful idea. We take a systemic approach. When you take our B Impact Statement, which measures overall environmental impact, it's broken down into several areas."
"By answering the questions in the B Impact Statement, business owners have a chance to asses where they need to improve. This resources is free online and completely confidential. The score is broken down by impact areas. You can identify how you can improve."
What message does B Corporation want to send to entrepreneurs and consumers? " I think the message that we need to send is B the Change. Ultimately, we want to celebrate and reward people who are using business for social good. That includes individuals within businesses as well as consumers."
There are a variety of ways that one can B the Change:
*"Creating a business that brings jobs to millions that were formerly unemployable."
*"Conducting research (on the companies to which you are considering lending your support)
*Supporting B Corporations via social media or other forms of mass media 
*Tell a friend or family member about a B Corporation
"Best for the World honors the best of the best and it is a great way to get inspired and see who's on top and really leading the way. These are the people who are going above and beyond and really succeeding, 30% of them are outside the United States. Some of the people on the list are in developing countries."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Forgotten Harvest

Support Forgotten Harvest as they continue their work to provide food assistance and fight hunger. They have a lot to celebrate including starting Forgotten Harvest Farms where they grew more than 850,000 pounds of fresh produce. Additionally, they have won Charity Navigator's 4 Star ranking for the seventh year in a row. This honor is earned and only 2% of the organizations they rate, hold the 4 Star ranking.

This "trucking company with a soul," is based in Oak Park Michigan and is a National Partner of Feeding America.

Feeding America is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity based in Chicago with a network of over 200 food banks in the United States. In addition to partnering with Feeding America, Forgotten Harvest holds the distinction of being chosen as Crain's Detroit Business's Best Managed Non Profit in 2007.

You can check out Forgotten Harvest's support of Jessica Hauser and Coach Khali of the Downtown youth Boxing Gym, "100% of the kids have graduated from high school and 96% have gone on to college",on the Forgotten Harvest You Tube page!

The Forgotten Harvest Rescue Team is able to accommodate groups of up to 40 people and includes a variety of different ways to participate which includes and may not be limited to the following:

Warehouse Crew
Farm Team
DIY Fundraising
Data Entry Volunteers

The Volunteer Waiver and Checklist can be viewed at the link below:

Forgotten harvest has 455 food donors, a donor base of about 100,000 people and a group of 16,000 volunteers.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Feta Fest

Summer is here and you are bound to end up cooking some food of some kind for some event/reason. For those of you who end up cooking for something because you allowed yourself to get roped into it, here is a pretty simple meal that tastes good and looks great.

Food for Life Baking Company sent me a few of their products including Sprouted Whole Grain Penne Pasta, Almond Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal and Cinnamon Raisin Whole Grain Cereal.

As mentioned above the simple meal I prepared is just pasta with a few basic ingredients added in. I cooked the Sprouted Grain Penne Pasta and added some baby spinach once the pasta was pretty much finished cooking. FYI baby spinach cooks down pretty fast. I also added in Feta Cheese and tomatoes. I don't know if there is an ideal time to add the Feta and tomatoes so you may want to search around and see what you can find as to preparing pasta dishes.

The link below has pictures that can give you an idea of what these ingredients look like in case you have never eaten or cooked with them before.

I am learning as I go about sprouted grains. I added some of the Cinnamon Raisin Whole Grain Cereal to a yogurt snack and I have also had it as a snack by itself. I've had the Almond Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal as a snack by itself as well.

If you are interested in a self guided/self-paced introduction to Sprouted Grain they have a resource on their website that gives you information about the benefits as well as the available Food For Life products that include sprouted grain as an ingredient. I like that it is detailed and it seems to me that these products would be good for anyone who has food sensitivities or is preparing meals for someone who does. Their website says that sprouting produces Vitamin C, I wonder if sprouted grain products would be a good source of Vitamin C for people who have a citrus allergy. (* I am not a health care professional and this is not meant to serve in any way as medical advisement*)

Food For Life also has a section on their website that lists out the Low Glycemic and Diabetic Friendly offerings. I'm impressed that they obviously took a lot of time to address the potential concerns of a wide variety of customers. Very inclusive.

Ezekiel 4:9® Sprouted Whole Grain Penne Pasta
Ezekiel 4:9® Almond Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal
Ezekiel 4:9® Cinnamon Raisin Whole Grain Cereal

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dulce Bean

Organic Wheat and Gluten Free Dark Chocolate MacaroonsI had the opportunity to interview Clara Botero, founder of Dulce Bean,a MWBE bakery featured in the Miami Herald. The food heritage of Ms. Botero's business goes back to her family roots in Colombia and cooking for her family when she was younger.

Dulce Bean provides a variety of gluten free and grain free choices such as Organic Wheat and Gluten Free Apple Ginger Cake and Organic Wheat and Gluten Free Bananas and Cream Cake.
Between interviewing Clara and visiting her website I learned about some of the healthy products she uses including coconut flour, something I have not yet baked with as well as coconut oil which I previously wrote about while interviewing Pooka Pure and Simple.

Bananas and Cream CakeI have to give credit where credit is due and take a moment to mention that the food photography on her website is amazing.

In addition to selling her products she includes the article, "How to Get Started in Health," on her site that reviews healthy eating and gives a primer of sorts for those who are starting out with the process of changing their food choices.

Organic Wheat and Gluten Free Mocha Coconut CakeCheck out the FAQ's section to find out about shipping, pricing, billing, order status, international shipping etc...

All Dulce Bean products are offered Whole Sale and you can find out more information about this by contacting the company directly.

The Resources section on the website includes topics such as and I think is a great addition as it is a way for you to build a relationship with her brand based on the quality of her products as well as looking to Dulce Bean as a source of information.

Some of the topics include, "How to Sprout Your Own Flour","Sprouted Flours and Products," and "Great Recipes, Blogs and Sites."