Thank you, Pittsburgh, for giving residents and visitors safer streets for walking, biking, and increased physical activity!
In 2012, Sasha Coyle was searching for volunteer opportunities that her whole family – including her three young boys – could participate in. Then at a local farmers market, she discovered Fields to Families―a South Carolina-based program that works to fight hunger by gathering fresh fruits and vegetables from generous local farmers and community gardeners, and then distributing the food to those in need through food pantries, soup kitchens, churches, orphanages and shelters.
It was a perfect fit. “We wanted a day of volunteering as a family that served a greater purpose, but was also something the kids would enjoy. And I love the feeling of providing fresh produce to people because it supports the same healthy options I want for my own family,” Sasha explains.
But instead of the “day of volunteering” that Sasha had pictured, that one day turned into several years. Sasha and her family stayed involved as volunteers, and she eventually decided to serve on the organization’s board as the chair of the farm and garden committee. Then in 2014, Sasha became the organization’s program manager. In her new role, Sasha is now in charge of managing relationships with local farmers, participating in local farmers markets and coordinating volunteer groups that meet at farms to collect donated food.
“I never knew how to garden or keep a plant alive until I started trying in 2012,” Sasha says. But now, the Fields to Families garden is one of her favorite places, and she coordinates the volunteers who maintain and expand it. She also believes that the garden is one of her greatest accomplishments because of how much food they are able produce: In 2014, the garden provided more than 2,200 pounds of vegetables which were all donated.
And not only do they donate the food they grow, the garden is also used as “educational garden” where kids and adults of all ages can learn about gardening and growing vegetables.
Sasha and the Fields to Families’ efforts are part of a broader focus on ensuring health for those less fortunate. “Providing fresh produce to people that may otherwise go without is supportive of many health issues and concerns,” Sasha explains.
And, Sasha loves that Fields to Families also helps her family grow and learn together. “Volunteering with Fields to Families not only has my family as a whole involved, but my kids are being educated hands-on about food, farming and the needs of others,” Sasha says.
In 2014, the program donated more than 54,000 pounds of fresh produce, and they’re not stopping there. “Fields to Families is addressing South Carolina’s hunger problem in the most healthy way,” Sasha says.
Two new complete streets and equity reports have been released and are the result of a project to study equity elements in complete streets policies, the characteristics of communities with equity elements in their policies, and to qualitatively understand how equity elements in complete streets policies are being implemented in practice. Learn more about the reports here.
Eight applicants have been awarded funds that will help young students walk, bike and roll safely to and from school.
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Leaders are people who are actively working - either professionally or as volunteers - to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. We use the following criteria to evaluate whether to approve an applicant for Leader status with the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center.
Do you meet the criteria below? If so, register as a Leader here. There is no cost to be a Leader.
At least one item must be checked within each of the following two categories:
1. Applicant is focused on changing policies and environments
They are working on one of Voices for Healthy Kid's six issue areas:
Ensure foods and beverages in schools meet dietary guidelines
Expand community access to high quality food
Expand physical activity programs in and out of school
Improve built environment in communities to increase physical activity
Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
They are working on other obesity-related issues, such as:
Their primary focus is working on individual behavior (e.g., teaching kids about food, play, etc.), but they have access to organizations that could provide opportunities to change environments, such as
Public Health Agencies
Their project is commercial, but contributes positively to changing policies and environments, such as:
2. Applicant is organizing others or contributing to organizing efforts
They are organizing others by:
Providing volunteer opportunities
Building contact lists of supporters to engage in advocacy
They provide support to organizations or leaders doing work changing policies and environments, such as:
They are a leader in a governmental body that may be the target of organizing efforts to change policies and environments, such as a:
Federal or state agency
Mayor or other local executive office
Federal, state, county or local public health department
Federal, state, county or transportation department
Federal, state or local education agency or school board
If the applicant claims to work for an organization, at least one item must be checked below:
3. Applicant works for an organization:
Has an email address that matches the domain of the organization they list
Is listed on the organization website as staff
The Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center is looking for bloggers who can write about issues that matter to our community on a regular basis. If you would like to be considered for this network, please check this box.