Tag Archives: nutrition

Healthy wrap-up

Since January I have had the unique opportunity to follow students from La Salle University’s Leadership and Global Understanding program. In the spring of 2015, these students focused on supporting local food charities in the neighborhoods surrounding La Salle University.  These food charities focus on providing meals to individuals and families alike. The meals are healthy and wholesome meals. In following the students I quickly learned that the bigger goal is to not just feed people, but to make people’s live healthier.

La Salle provided numerous speakers throughout the past few months. The speakers were students and faculty alike. These speakers focused on the health impact of La Salle University’s community outreach programs. Dr. Edie Goldbacher, a psychology professor at La Salle helps organize and run a health clinic that educates local residents about healthy living. Dr. Goldbacher’s program focuses on the psychology causes and effects of health related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and malnutrition. She spoke about how many of those that are affected by these types of diseases, have limited resources and control over the disease. She also added those affected have limited control over what they are able to consume due to where they live. The program Goldbacher runs with La Salle specifically helps those that live in food deserts.

Click on map above to open interactive Google Map to see locations of Easter Food Drive
Click on map above to open interactive Google Map to see locations of Easter Food Drive

Director of the Leadership and Global Understanding program Dr.Marjorie Allen spoke to me about food deserts.  A food desert is an area that does not have much or any access to fresh food, specifically fresh fruits and vegetables. In these areas, there are not many super markets or the super markets are quite some travel time. While there are corner stores, many do not have refrigeration to store and sell fresh foods in. In the neighborhoods surround La Salle, some of the healthier food options come from fast food restaurants that offer salads and fruit slices as alternatives to French fries.

Another community outreach program supported by La Salle University is Pheed Philadelphia. Pheed Philadelphia is a soup kitchen program that is aimed to fight hunger in the local community. Student leaders of Pheed Philadelphia take fellow students weekly to soup kitchens. Students help prepare, cook, and serve the food to those who come in seeking for a meal. Pheed Philadelphia serves numerous soup kitchens throughout the Olney, Logan, and surrounding neighborhoods. Student leader Molly Mahon spoke about the program. She has been involved with the program since her freshman year. The personal stories she shared about the bonds she formed with those who come into the soup kitchen. She added the joy she feels when she sees the hungry enjoying a meal they very much needed one.

In March, the Leadership and Global Understanding students held an Easter Food Drive. Co-sponsored and supported by The Fresh Grocer, the food drive sent food bundles for Easter dinners to 6 different food charities and churches in surrounding neighborhoods. The student leaders worked with local businesses and benefactors to secure food and monetary donations to distribute to the various locations. After doing so, the Leadership and Global Understanding students held two days of volunteering to help sort, package, and distribute the food. The first day involved receiving the delivery of all the fresh food and sorting it. With help from fellow La Salle University students and students from Wagner Middle School, an assembly line was formed and all the food was sorted and packed into food bundles. From there, the bundles were sorted and packed into boxes. On the second day, the student leaders packed vans and trucks with the food and delivered the food to the food charities and churches.

With help from The Fresh Grocer, La Salle's LGU students ran a successful Easter Food Drive. Click on the picture to see a slideshow about the event.
With help from The Fresh Grocer, La Salle’s LGU students ran a successful Easter Food Drive. Click on the picture to see a slideshow about the event.

I learned a great deal about these community outreach programs but why they are so important and needed. For many of us, being able to go and get fresh food may be second nature. We may just hop in our car and drive to the local super market. To people living in impoverished neighborhoods, they may not have a car to go to the store in or there may not even be a store to go buy fresh food from. With few healthy food options to choose from, health issues can arise. It can become a vicious cycle because once health begins to decrease, healthy food options are more important but if healthy food can’t be obtained, health continues to deteriorate.

I was unaware of the various programs offered by La Salle University. I was also unaware of the number of the food charities in the area that distribute food to the hungry. I learned a great deal about health and nutrition. Dr. Goldbacher’s presentation about the psychology causes and effects of health issues was quite eye opening and interesting. Julie Henstenberg’s presentation about how health and eating standards outlined by the government are defined and created was extraordinarily interesting. Molly Mahon’s talk about her experiences of working in food kitchens with Pheed Philadelphia was truly moving.

Following these Leadership and Global Understanding students and watching the various speakers has truly been an amazing opportunity. As a reporter I am often behind a camera or a notepad documenting everything I see or hear. At times I had to stop and just take it all in first hand and not from behind a device. Just standing there and witnessing all the work that goes into making the day better for another person is awesome.

I have included a video that myself and a group of fellow reporters put together to highlight the speakers and work completed by the Leadership and Global Understanding students that was completed since January.

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La Salle supports residents with health program

Dr. Edie Goldbacher is a clinical health psychologist at La Salle University. As a professor, she teaches mainly doctoral students about the psychological effects of weight issues. She serves as a resource for members of both the La Salle and local community when it comes to weight loss and healthy eating. She focuses with her weight loss program participants on the importance of nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Dr. Edie Goldbacher. Photo from La Salle University
Dr. Edie Goldbacher. Photo from La Salle University

The American Medical Association recently classified obesity as a medical condition. Between 1990 and 2010, some regions in the United States went from little to no data on BMI (Body Mass Index) to 30 percent of the population over a BMI of 30. The BMI is the weight-height ratio of an individual and is used to calculate if someone is overweight or not.

While there are a variety of reasons of obesity, a special look is being taken at childhood obesity. Some of the reasons for childhood obesity include poor food choices and lack of physical activity. These reasons are common in impoverished neighborhoods. These neighborhoods tend to have more community violence causing residents, especially children, to stay inside for their own safety.

Goldbacher’s programs focus on “helping people learn new behaviors”. Goldbacher said when working with participants, the overall goal may be to lose 40 pounds. We break it down into smaller more achievable goals. When it comes to the relapse prevention stage of the program, Goldbacher asks her participants “You’ve lost some weight, you’ve changed your eating behaviors, and now how do we maintain that.”

Some of the psychological factors are the reasons for the weight problem. Goldbacher helps to identify the thinking patterns to help the participant. Participants track how much food is eaten and the exercise.

The program runs 12-20 weeks and the cost varies based on the participant’s income. The program has a basic structure but is customized to each participant’s abilities and desires. The program is run through La Salle University.

The Fresh Grocer providing fresh nutrition

The Fresh Grocer has become a staple in residents’ lives in the Olney and Logan neighborhoods. Students and residents both rely on The Fresh Grocer for not only regular food items but also fresh options.

I recently interviewed some people that shop at The Fresh Grocer on Chew Ave in the Olney/Logan neighborhoods. They all noted how the store is convenient and one of the very few places to get fresh food.

I asked what they thought were the benefits of having a store like The Fresh Grocer in their neighborhood is. I also asked what some of the negatives were in addition to alternative shopping options in the neighborhood.

These interviews are part of my goal of bringing awareness about the lack of healthy and nutritional food options in city neighborhoods. For those that live in the suburbs, it is easy to have numerous grocery store or corner stores to go get your desired groceries. Personally, there are 2 grocery stores and a mom and pop food market within a mile of my house. Not everyone is as lucky. Other La Salle students mapped the food options in the Olney/Logan neighborhood for a senior nutrition project. These students found that the McDonalds had some of the healthiest options because McDonalds offers fruit and salads.

La Salle students Bill Repetto and Alex Miller (pictured below) both rely on The Fresh Grocer for food. Olney resident Reggie Johnson recognized the great benefit The Fresh Grocer is to the neighborhood. Listen to the interviews for their respective responses on my Sound cloud page.

Student Alex Miller poses in front of The Fresh Grocer after he stopped to pick up food for the week
Student Alex Miller poses in front of The Fresh Grocer after he stopped to pick up food for the week
La Salle student Bill Repetto poses with some of his gluten free food. Without Fresh Grocer, Repetto wouldn't be sure where he could get food from.
La Salle student Bill Repetto poses with some of his gluten free food. Without Fresh Grocer, Repetto wouldn’t be sure where he could get food from.

Keep in mind the next time your are at the store how lucky you may be to easily walk into the store and get all sorts of healthy food. Some neighborhoods may not have the same benefit or may only have one option.

New notes not to miss

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for following and reading my blog. The past week I have taken off for spring break. Some good old fashion relaxing was just what the doctor ordered!  I’m back to it now and have added some HTML and PHP samples on the “Notes” page. I also recently added an infogram comparing the poverty rate in Philadelphia to surrounding areas. Head over to the “Notes” page and check it all out.

Exploring Nutrition

La Salle University students involved with Exploring Nutrition work at a food shelter, helping to distribute fresh foods. Photo Credit: La Salle University

Exploring Nutrition was created with the help of La Salle University with the mission “to create a model by which urban universities can, in partnership with local businesses, community organizations, and religious institutions, utilize collective resources and expertise to have a positive impact on their neighborhood’s health and nutritional well-being”.

La Salle University has partnered with “Fresh Grocer” grocery store and with several local businesses and religious organizations to improve the nutrition provided in the neighborhood. Dr. Marjie Allen, chair of Integrative Studies at La Salle University told me about the beginnings and inner workings of Exploring Nutrition.

One goal of the Exploring Nutrition program is to maintain food mapping of local businesses. This entails going to every store that sells food in the area and recording what products they sell, especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Allen said that when she had students do this research, some were astonished when they found that McDonald’s had more fresh fruit options than some of the corner stores they stopped at.

Allen said that it was seen through studies both nationally and locally that the nutrition and fresh food available in poorer neighborhoods was subpar. This lack of quality has lead to health issues such as obesity. La Salle University, being in a poorer neighborhood, decided to take a proactive step to fight the malnourishment and hunger that was living in the university’s backyard.

At the time of the last food mapping, there were three supermarkets in the area that provided fresh foods; Fresh Grocer, Pathmark, and Bottom Dollar. Recently, Bottom Dollar has closed due to a corporate buy-out.

Fresh Grocer was built within the last 10 years by La Salle University as a way to get better food and nutrition into the neighborhood. In a National Housing Institute article about getting fresh foods into low income communities, writer Rebecca Flournoy points out the added benefits of having a super market in these communities.

A view of the produce section inside The Fresh Grocer located at The Shoppes at La Salle. Photo Credit: catacomm.com

“The stores create jobs for local residents, capture dollars currently being spent outside of the community, recycle money in the local economy and increase local sales tax revenue”, said Flournoy.

Allen said that the program and focus on getting better nutrition is for all members of the community, both young and old. The children need the nutrition to physical develop and mentally develop and do well in school. Allen once again referred to her students who participated in the recent food mapping. Some of the students noted in their reports, the cracked and unstable sidewalks that surrounded the neighborhood and local corner stores. The elderly may likely have trouble trying to keep their balance from these unsafe conditions.

Allen said “Imagine if you were them, trying to keep balance with your cane or walker and then trying to keep your balance when leaving with your hands full of groceries”.

As La Salle’s Exploring Nutrition program continues to grow and become part of food shelter’s and soup kitchen’s missions, be sure to see more fresh foods throughout the neighborhood.