Posts Tagged ‘healthy snacks for children’

Building Healthy Chefs @ AZ Pre-schools

March 11th, 2011

Our Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity just completed a series of free cooking-based nutrition trainings for childcare providers in Arizona.  The Cooking Matters curriculum from Share our Strength, as part of the Wal-Mart Foundation Health Initiatives, gives childcare providers the opportunity to learn how to prepare healthy meals and snacks on a limited budget and create a positive food environment for the children in their care.  The hands-on trainings are engaging and learner-focused while empowering providers to recognize their role in establishing healthy attitudes and behaviors towards food.

As a result of their participation, they’ll develop confidence in cooking and preparing meals and making smart choices about foods.  They’ll be able use these strategies to increase kids’ acceptance of healthy foods and maximize their food resources.  These free trainings directly align with our successful Empower program and new childcare rules.  This is a great example of leveraging resources and working across departments and programs within ADHS for a healthier Arizona.  Check out the pictures on the Flickr.

Well done and thanks to Adrienne Udarbe and Saidee White for their work on the demonstrations and implementation of the piloting of the curriculum, Helen Uganst in Child Care, who coordinated and recruited the participants, and Hazel Valdez who did the first two food demos as her externship for the Culinary Arts Program.

ADHS’ Community Garden

February 25th, 2011

It’s always best to lead by example.  We’ve been encouraging community gardens for years and now we have one!  After much hoping, dreaming and planning the community garden is finally a reality.  In October, Jonathan Manning from Elgin Nursery came out to help us break ground.  We added compost and cottonseed meal to a long strip that runs along the east side of the courtyard under the windows of the JLBC building.  Recently we added compost and cottonseed meal to the soil in the 5 raised planters.

Last week we were surprised by a generous gift of AZ Sweet Vidalia onions from farmer Stella McPhee from Horny Toad Micro Farms.  She brought us several Arizona Sweet Vidalia onion sets to plant.   Yesterday Allison Giles picked up more plants compliments of Elgin Nursery and coordinated the noontime work brigade that planted everything.

This garden is for everyone, and I hope that each of you will take a few minutes to out and enjoy it.  There’ll be sessions arranged for anyone who wants to participate by planting, weeding, picking or just hanging out with others who are doing those things.  Saidee White will be organizing the activities and we’ll make sure that we give information to the Wellness team so that everyone stays informed. But you don’t have to wait for an invitation!  Go out and enjoy the beautiful weather and the beautiful space!  For those of you who don’t know, the garden is located on the east side of the 1740 building in the courtyard.

New Year’s Resolutions & Public Health

December 31st, 2010

Our Tobacco Prevention Program will be hitting targeted audiences (lower income Arizonans) a few days before New Years and during January with smoking cessation messages. There’s no better time to motivate folks to quit smoking than January because that’s the time of year when people generally set health goals for themselves.  The ads (funded by a dedicated and voter protected tobacco tax) are designed to give people tools to increase their chances of success.  There’s no easy way out once you are addicted to nicotine, but there are nicotine replacement therapies like the patch, gum, and lozenge; and there are medications such as Zyban® and Chantix® that can help.  You can read more about cessation strategies and resources on our ASHline.

Thanks to ADHS staff  and all of our partners in the community and other government agencies for their hard work this year.  We have a lot to be proud of… and have a great Holiday…

2011 Department Priorities Spotlight- Public Health Prevention

December 28th, 2010

The name of the game for Public Health Prevention in 2011 is integration and leverage.  Our Public Health Prevention Team will be focusing on the social determinants of health and working to implement policies, systems and environmental changes that make the healthy choices easy.  Here are some examples of our public health prevention priorities for the coming year:

Worksite Wellness

Perhaps one of the biggest leverage points for improving community health lies with Arizona employers.  Employers are increasingly recognizing that a healthier workforce is a more productive and efficient workforce and by applying simple public health prevention tools that can improve their productivity.  We’ll be using our Worksite Wellness Tool to help Arizona businesses to adopt wellness and health promotion activities for their employees.  The kinds of simple things we’ll be working with them on are smoking cessation, weight management, nutrition, heart disease prevention, diabetes prevention, etc.  Businesses that are self-insured (for health insurance) have double the potential gains because they’ll eventually benefit from worksite wellness with lowered premiums.

State Government Wellness

We’ll also build on our partnership with the ADOA to offer our services in augmenting the State wellness initiative and working with St. Luke’s Health Initiatives and others to make evidence based public health resources available to employers.  Included in this effort will be:

  1. Diabetes Self-Management Training -  Almost 10% of state employees have diabetes, and we’ll be partnering with ADOA to increase use of self-management (the cornerstone of treatment and care) to improve care;
  2. Launching a state-wide “Hands Only” CPR initiative on three fronts:  Public (bystander) Awareness, Systems-Level Protocol Change (Dispatch – 911), and Worksite (employee) training;
  3. Design and launch a public awareness campaign focusing on early detection and effective disease management for Arizonans with colon, breast and cervical cancers;
  4. Expand our reach and utilization of tobacco cessation efforts via ASHline (phone and web-based services) among the behavioral health population, through partnering with some of our Regional Behavioral Health Authorities to create systems-based referrals in each behavioral health clinical site.

Nutrition & Food Stamps

We’ll also be working with other interested states and public health associations to change what foods qualify for purchase under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly called food stamps).   This is an idea that is getting national attention, including a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health that outlined a number of ways to improve diets of SNAP participants along with everyone else. This issue will be considered when Congress votes on the new Farm Bill in 2013. The Healthy Hunger Free Act of 2010 signed by the President this week will strengthen nutrition education provided to SNAP participants by focusing on obesity prevention and allowing public health approaches to be more fully incorporated into SNAP nutrition education activities. Visit to see the nutrition education currently available to families receiving SNAP benefits in Arizona (don’t miss the videos and games).


We’ll be continuing to press our efforts to make institutional changes in maternity care practices and increase breastfeeding initiation and duration.  Arizona’s “5 Baby Steps to Breastfeeding Success” are the hospital practices that make the biggest difference. Our Breastfeeding Team is working with Arizona Perinatal Trust to train 5,100 nurses in 31 APT-certified hospitals statewide on Arizona’s 5 Baby Steps to Breastfeeding Success. All of these hospitals are committed to changing their policies to support breastfeeding. The technical assistance from ADHS is the key in mentoring the hospitals through model policy training and moving the policy from paper to action.

Health in Schools

We’ll also be using a more coordinated approach as we work with Arizona schools on various health initiatives.  Our new school coordinating committee will continue to share resources, streamline access and improve outreach for all of our programs.  The bottom line is that healthy children learn better and offering daily physical education or daily school breakfast can improve academic performance. We’ll be helping schools to complete the CDCs School Health Index assessment tool that they can use to develop a plan to improve their health-related policies and programs.  Strengthening school wellness policies, supporting farm-to-school programs, and increasing physical activity throughout the school day are all high priorities for the collaborative work.  Check out the Coordinated School Health website at to learn more about school health in action.

Of course there will be alot more than just these things going on in public health prevention in 2011, but this gives you a taste of what’s up.

Child Nutrition Act of 2010

December 20th, 2010

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 became law this month.  This reauthorization of the federal school nutrition program includes a number of elements that will help move the needle on childhood obesity.  The Act recognizes the importance of school meals to the health and academic success of kids and gives school nutrition programs new responsibilities and resources to bring more fresh produce, whole grains and low-fat dairy products into school cafeterias.  More than 31 million school kids participate in the National School Lunch Program and 11 million qualify for the School Breakfast Program. Many children get ½ of their daily calories at schools,  making this program a great leverage point to improve nutrition for kids by placing more rigorous nutrition standards on the foods that are served in the program.

We were actually able to get elements of our childcare Empower Pack included in the new law.  When the Request For Information came out several months ago we turned in our Empower program as a best practice and it ended up being included in Section 222 of the Act.  That part of the law directs the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to develop programming that encourages state licensing agencies to include wellness criteria within state licensing standards to ensure that licensed and regulated child care centers and family child care homes provide physical activity opportunities, limit screen time and offer food consistent with the healthy meals patterns and nutrition standards.

ADHS E-Communications Site

August 2nd, 2010

Just a reminder that you can sign up for electronic notifications in your in-box of our media releases, and lots of other cool communications like our weekly, in-season, healthy recipe at:  Tell your friends too.

AZ Obesity Update

July 6th, 2010

The Trust for America’s Health released their annual obesity report.  Overall, the national trend toward increasing obesity rates continued it’s march forward.  Arizona ranked in the middle of the pack, but the pack itself in increasingly unhealthy.  More than two-thirds of states have adult obesity rates above 25 percent. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.

Most Americans think that being overweight is a simple matter of personal responsibility.  While it’s clear that people need to make healthy choices and get more exercise if we’re going to turn this thing around, there are some other factors.  Healthy foods cost more than junk food and good food is hard to find in many neighborhoods.  But you can be sure that cheap processed foods are available everywhere.  Also, finding safe, accessible places to be physically active can be a challenge.  While everyone faces barriers to healthy choices, the obstacles are often higher for people with lower incomes and less education.

Those of you that work on public health prevention should become familiar with the key elements in the report, especially the intervention strategies  in the second half of the report.  By the way…  our Empower Pack is an example of the kind of strategy that we need more of to turn this ship around.

Updating AZ Childcare Center Standards

June 15th, 2010

You probably remember how we shifted from general funds to fee-based inspection programs.  The most controversial fee increase was for child care facilities, as the costs of inspecting child care facilities had been almost entirely subsidized by the state’s general fund.  In the end, we found a way to use alternative funding sources to provide a 50% subsidy for the child care licensure fees in exchange for participating in the  Empower Pack program.  After implementing our successful Empower program, a new law was passed (SB 1315) that makes some changes to the way we need to run our child care licensing program.

The new law requires us to conduct a cost analysis of our child care licensing program by February and then review and adjust our fees accordingly.  We can use the exempt rulemaking process to lower, but not raise, the fees. The law gives child care facilities perpetual licenses, in other words they don’t expire.  We still have the authority to revoke or suspend licenses if licensees don’t pay their license fee.  We also need to set up a payment program.  If funding is available, the law says we should convert from 3 year licensure fees to a 1 year fee.  It also requires us to amend the child care center rules by October 1 and amend the child care group home rules by October 1, 2011.  We have a 1-year rulemaking exemption for amending the child care facility and child care group home rules.

You might be out of breath after reading the new requirements, but we’ll continue to do our best.  We’re starting by providing our new draft child care facility rules for comment today.  The newly proposed rules are posted on the AZDHS website.  We’ll have a 30-day comment period that will include public meetings in Tucson and Phoenix. The new child care facility rules are expected to be effective on or before our October 1, 2010 deadline.

Childhood Obesity Task Force Report

May 17th, 2010

The President signed a Memorandum in February establishing the Task Force on Childhood Obesity and charged them with developing an interagency action plan to solve the problem of obesity in the US.  The Task Force included the Secretaries of the Health, Agriculture, Interior, Education, Office of Management and Budget, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

The Task Force published its action plan this month entitled  Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation.   Those of you who work in our physical activity and nutrition shop will probably want to read the 99 page report.  In particular, you should take a look at the conclusions and recommendations table.

The task force also announced the Apps for Healthy Kids competition which challenges software developers, game designers, and students to develop fun and engaging software tools and games that drive children, especially “tweens” (ages 9-12) – directly or through their parents – to eat better and be more physically active.

Interesting Support for Overhauling Breakfast & Lunch Programs

April 23rd, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that the US Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, passed legislation out of their Committee to reauthorize WIC and the other Child Nutrition Programs last week. It’s called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The bill includes the reauthorization of the free and reduced lunch and breakfast programs along with better nutritional standards for the program.

There was some interesting support for the elements in the bill to improve the nutritional quality of foods in the program this week from a group called Mission: Readiness, which is an organization of retired senior military leaders. In a report released this week, they warned Congress that the recruiting pool for the military is shrinking because so many young adults are obese.  The report says that 27% percent of all young adults don’t qualify for service because of their obesity. The opening of the report says that… ”Obesity rates among children and young adults have increased so dramatically that they threaten not only the overall health of America but also the future strength of our military.”

Incidentally, the original school lunch program was born out of military concerns about the fitness of children.  In 1946, General Lewis Hershey was instrumental in convincing Congress to pass the original National School Lunch Act as a way to improve the nutrition of America’s children, increase their height and weight, and ensure America’s national security.  At that time, recruits for WW II were undernourished creating a problem for the military.  Now we have the opposite problem.