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Prince George’s County Food Equity Council Can Hear the Maryland Crunch!

Suitland, Maryland (March 25, 2014) — In an effort to raise awareness of how school breakfast can alleviate childhood hunger, the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council has partnered with Maryland Hunger Solutions to participate in a Hear the Maryland Crunch! event at Suitland Elementary School. Hear the Maryland Crunch! is a fun and educational event that includes a state-wide, synchronized bite into an apple. Schools and other partners across the state are participating in this event to spread the word that every child in Maryland should have access to a healthy breakfast.

Food Equity Council members will “crunch” with students at Suitland Elementary School to highlight the school’s successful Maryland Meals for Achievement program, a universal school breakfast program. Suitland Elementary Principal Pamela Preston shares, “Breakfast in the classroom has gone well for us. Teachers and students are receptive. I am pleased because it offers students in need another opportunity to be fed without embarrassment.”

The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council is local food policy council whose mission is to significantly improve public health, food security, and community well-being of all who live, work, study, worship and play in the County. The Council recognizes that nearly 13% of all Maryland households struggle with hunger, and lack access to adequate food to help them live an active and healthy life, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Increasing participation in School Breakfast – which reaches 56.5 of low-income students in Maryland for every 100 students that receive school lunch – would help end childhood hunger, as well as boost learning and test scores, improve attendance and student behavior, and improve overall student health.

“School breakfast is a win-win-win for schools, families, and kids. Children who start the day with a healthy meal have improved academic, behavioral, and health outcomes and eating school breakfast helps families stretch tight food budgets and schedules,” says Sydney Daigle, Prince George’s County Food Equity Council Coordinator.

Food Equity Council members will “crunch” at 7:50 am at Suitland Elementary School, 4650 Homer Avenue, Suitland, MD 20746. The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council is incubated within the Institute for Public Health Innovation and funded by a CDC Community Transformation Grant. For more information about the Food Equity Council and its three workgroups, Anti-Hunger and Obesity Prevention, Healthy Food Retail, and Local Food Production, email [email protected]. For more information about Hear the Maryland Crunch! contact Michael J. Wilson, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions at 410.528.0021, x27 or [email protected].

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The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council Hosts a TEDxManhattan Viewing Party

Upper Marlboro, Maryland (March 1, 2014) — In an effort to raise awareness and promote innovation in the County’s food system, the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council and Prince George’s Community College are partnering to host a TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” Viewing Party.  TEDxManhattan is a one-day conference in New York City featuring a dynamic and diverse group of speakers addressing issues in the sustainable food and farming movement.  The viewing party will show all three sessions of “Changing the Way We Eat” including a performance and talk by Parkdale High English teacher and poet, Clint Smith.  Local events will include a youth panel featuring students involved in food systems projects at Parkdale and Fairmont Heights High Schools and a free lunch catered by Chipotle.

“We’re excited to share the inspiring sustainable food systems work being done across the country, and starting a dialogue about how residents can become involved in changing the way Prince George’s County eats,” says Sydney Daigle, event organizer and Prince George’s County Food Equity Council Coordinator.

The event is co-hosted by the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council, a local food policy council funded by a CDC Community Transformation Grant and incubated within the Institute for Public Health Innovation.  The Food Equity Council’s mission is to significantly improve public health, food security, and community well-being of all who live, work, study, worship and play in the County.  The Council will develop and support policies, approaches, procedures, practices and initiatives to create systemic change to the local food system, ensuring health equity and food access especially among communities that have been negatively impacted by the current food system.

The TEDxManhattan Viewing Party will be hosted at the Prince George’s Community College Westphalia Campus located at 9109 Westphalia Rd, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774.  Tickets are limited and those interested in attending should RSVP to by 11:30 pm on February 28th.  Chipotle will cater a free lunch with vegetarian and vegan options available.  For more information about the Food Equity Council and its three workgroups, Anti-Hunger and Obesity Prevention, Healthy Food Retail, and Local Food Production, email[email protected].

Institute for Public Health Innovation, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative Pilot Community Discussions on Active Transportation to Recreational Opportunities

Washington, DC (January 27, 2014) – The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI) is pleased to announce Community Connectivity Forums for residents of Bladensburg, Langley Park, and Suitland to discuss improving access to recreational opportunities for children and families. These are being held in collaboration with the Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission Department of Parks and Recreation and the Prince George’s County Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative with support from technical experts Wildflower Consulting and GP Red.  This collaboration aims to create safe access to recreational opportunities, concentrating on a ½-1½ mile radius around targeted community centers so that children, youth, and families can confidently walk or bicycle to these locations. This project is based on the Safe Routes to Play concept, which is a child-centered planning process which helps communities assess connectivity between neighborhoods and parks, playgrounds, trails, and natural areas for children and families, focusing on methods of active transportation, such as walking or biking.

Each forum will provide community residents the opportunity to discuss any obstacles they face in walking or biking in their neighborhood. Additionally, participating youth will present their findings from PhotoVoice, a photo-documentation process, and UMAP, a mapping process, to demonstrate the barriers they face. Forums will be held in both English and Spanish, and childcare and refreshments will be provided.

One forum will be held in each community:

Suitland – Tuesday, January 28, 6:30-8:30PM, Suitland Community Center, 5600 Regency Lane

Bladensburg – Wednesday, January 29, 6:30-8:30PM, Bladensburg Community Center, 4500 57th Avenue

Langley Park – Thursday, January 30, 6:30-8:30PM, Langley Park Community Center, 1500 Merrimac Drive

Results from these forums will be incorporated into a Blueprint addressing access to recreational opportunities and pedestrian health and safety. This blueprint will include findings from the three communities and an action plan for each, providing solutions to access issues surrounding recreational opportunities.

Funded by IPHI through a Community Transformation Grant (CTG) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these community forums are one element of a larger program that endeavors to improve health and quality of life for communities Prince George’s County. In addition to improving safety and increasing access to recreational opportunities, IPHI also funds strategies that increase access to and affordability of healthy foods for low-income families and improve delivery of clinical preventive services through the use of community health workers.

To become involved with Safe Access to Recreational Opportunities, please contact Catherine Diamante at [email protected].

Teens in Prince George’s County Identify Neighborhood Improvement Priorities Through Photography Project

Some Prince George’s County, Maryland teenagers say their community centers are fraught with challenges and are hoping a new photography initiative will help community members get the picture. See See for full article published on Oct 22, 2013 that highlights the PhotoVoice project supported by IPHI. 



Prince George’s County Council Passes Resolution to Endorse Food Equity Council

Upper Marlboro, MD (July 9, 2013) — The Institute for Public Health Innovation and the Place Matters Policy Team of the Port Towns Community Health Partnership (PTCHP) applaud the Prince George’s County Council endorsement of a Food Equity Council. A resolution passed on July 9th notes the legislative body “expressly supports and endorses the formation of the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council” to develop and support policies and practices for improving the County’s food system. This initiative is funded and supported with technical assistance from the Institute for Public Health Innovation through a Community Transformation Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Across the country and in our backyard, food policy councils like this Food Equity Council are bringing together government, community, non-profit, business, and other leaders to think creatively about how to address hunger, health, the environment, and the local economy through increased availability of healthy, affordable and fresh food,” explains David Harrington, Senior Advisor to the PTCHP, a program funded by Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States.

“With more than one in eight people in Prince George’s County struggling to afford enough food, we need to think broadly and creatively to address both affordability and access” said Laura Flamm, Nutrition Associate with Maryland Hunger Solutions.  “Federal nutrition programs, including the Food Supplement Program and free and reduced priced school meals, are powerful tools for promoting health, nutrition, and local economic development. Through the work of the Food Equity Council, we will be able to expand the reach and impact of these programs.”

Three out of five County children receive free or reduced-price meals at school, and household participation in the Food Supplement Program (federally known as SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) has more than doubled in the last five years, reflecting the economic downturn and increased unemployment and low-wage jobs.

“We want to reverse the systemic lack of access to healthy foods in our County, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables are often only available in higher income areas, miles from where the majority of people work, study and live. As a result, too many of us are left to rely on nearby, less healthy, and often more expensive options, such as highly processed food,” says Margaret Morgan-Hubbard, CEO of ECO City Farms, and core member of the PTCHP.

Factors such as access, affordability and availability of healthy food directly impact community health. Prince George’s County has some of the most challenging health data in Maryland, with 70 percent of the adult population either overweight or obese. According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Maryland Vital Statistics Annual Report 2011, the age-adjusted death rate for Prince George’s County ranked third in diabetes and eighth in heart diseases among 24 Maryland jurisdictions. In both cases, the county had disproportionately higher rates than the State (28.6 versus 20.4 deaths per 100,000 population for diabetes and 203.5 versus 181.6 per 100,000 population for heart diseases).

“Of utmost importance in addressing chronic disease is creating community-based strategies for growing food close to the people who eat it,” says Morgan-Hubbard. As mentioned in the Resolution: “[the] mission of the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council is to significantly improve food security and community well-being of all who live, work, study, worship and play in the County.”

The taskforce that is working to launch the Food Equity Council is chaired by Maryland Hunger Solutions and is a collaboration between ECO City Farms, the Institute for Public Health Innovation, Maryland Hunger Solutions, Prince George’s County Planning Department, the Prince George’s County Health Department, and University of Maryland Extension – Prince George’s County.

By addressing the multiple layers of the food system, from production and processing, to distribution, consumption and waste management, the Food Equity Council will examine food policy, including strategies such as financing incentives for attracting grocery stores in low-income communities, alternative retail approaches like community supported agriculture, and innovative local production through urban farming and organic growing.

The Food Equity Council is currently seeking applications for membership. To learn more about the Council and to apply to join, visit Information about the Council and application will be posted on the website in the coming weeks. The deadline to apply is August 31st. The Council anticipates holding its first meeting by October 2013. All meetings will be open to the public.

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