Category Archives: Live Well Stories

Active People, Healthy Nation

Nationally, only one in four adults meet national standards for combined aerobic and muscle strengthening. Active People, Healthy NationSM is a national initiative led by the CDC to help 27 million Americans become more physically active by 2027.

To reach this goal, communities can implement evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity. Active People, Healthy NationSM is focusing on the following strategies:

  • Activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations
  • Access to places for physical activity
  • School and youth programs
  • Community-wide campaigns
  • Social supports
  • Individual supports
  • Prompts to encourage physical activity
  • Equitable and Inclusive Access

Live Well Allegheny strives to provide resources on increasing physical activity in our communities. To find local resources near you, check out our Live Well Allegheny Partners. For more information on the Active People, Healthy NationSM Initiative visit their website, “like” CDC Eat Well Be Active on Facebook, or join the conversation on twitter @CDC_DNPAO.

Tobacco Free Adagio Health Services and Programs

Tobacco Free Adagio Health (TFAH) is the Regional Primary Contractor for the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s tobacco prevention and control work in Allegheny County. The goal of TFAH is to assist smokers in quitting and prevent new users from starting.

TFAH works to promote tobacco-free policies that protect residents from the harms of secondhand smoke where they live, where they work, and where they play. TFAH uses certified tobacco treatment specialists (CTTS) to help smokers interested in beginning their quitting journey identify triggers and build new, healthier habits and strategies. These strategies help people find more success in their attempts to quit smoking. This program is offered virtually, in person, individually or in group cessation classes.

TFAH Youth Services Coordinators provide health education on the following topics:

  • Big Tobacco’s impact on the community
  • Big Tobacco’s marketing campaigns’ impact on underserved communities
  • Ways we can come together as a community to improve health outcomes for everyone in our region
  • Tobacco’s impact on the body, the brain and the environment

TFAH partners with a lot of healthcare providers and community-based organizations to provide education and to address health disparities for people in the following communities:

  • African Americans,
  • LGBTQIA+ individuals,
  • Veterans,
  • Youth,
  • Women,
  • Those contending with mental and behavioral health issues.

For more information, please visit tobaccofree.adagiohealth.org.

For 50 years, Adagio Health has been serving the healthcare needs of women and families throughout Western Pennsylvania. Our service area includes:

  • 62 counties in Pennsylvania
  • Seven counties in West Virginia
  • Five counties in Southern New York State

Many of the 110,000 patients receiving Adagio Health’s services are women who are uninsured or underinsured. Services are provided through funding from foundations, the State and Federal Government, and in partnership with a variety of local organizations and other funders. For more information, please visit adagiohealth.org or call 800-215-7494.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Adopt the Good Food Purchasing Policy

The Good Food Purchasing Policy (GFFP) was created by the Center for Good Food Purchasing. This policy helps institutions prioritize healthy, sustainable, regional, and fair foods in their purchasing contracts. The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council is working with Pittsburgh Public Schools and other community partners to create, promote and help implement a “Good Food Purchasing Policy” in the district.

The GFFP emphasizes five fundamental values:

  • Nutrition
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Regional economics
  • Valued workforce
  • Animal Welfare

The Center for Good Food Purchasing works with agencies and institutions to commit to using language that promotes these values in their food contracts by adopting a purchasing policy.

On Wednesday, Oct. 27, the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education passed the Good Food Purchasing Policy for the district. PPS is the second largest school district in Pennsylvania and serves over 23,000 meals daily with a food service budget around $15 million, primarily funded by meal reimbursements through federal programs.

“Nationally, initiatives like the Good Food Purchasing Policy and Program are designed to strengthen regional food economies and protect communities, workers, and buyers from the types of food supply chain shocks that we are now seeing as a result of the pandemic,” said Sarah Buranskas, Project Manager, Pittsburgh Food Policy Council.

The GFFP Coalition includes Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, Pittsburgh parents, Center for Good Food Purchasing, Allegheny County Health Department (REACH), UPMC Children’s Hospital, Adagio Health, PPS Food Service Department, Imagine PPS, PPS Obama 6-8, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture and Humane Action Pittsburgh.

View the press release.

The Good Food Pittsburgh Coalition meets on the second Monday of each month from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Buranskas or Jennifer Giovanniello with any questions at sarah@pittsburghfoodpolicy.org or jen@pittsburghfoodpolicy.org.

Earn Food Bucks for more food at local Farmers Markets

The Food Trust’s Food Bucks program, in partnership with Just Harvest and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, gives shoppers $2 in food bucks coupons for every $5 spent in food stamps. Launched in 2010, and originally only available in Philadelphia, this healthy food incentive program has expanded to a statewide initiative, with a focus on the Pittsburgh region and western Pennsylvania. The Food Bucks program is offered in over 50 retail settings, including farmers markets, mobile markets, corner stores and supermarkets.

The Food Bucks program allows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps, benefit holders to stretch their budgets to include fresh, healthy, and local fruits and vegetables.

Visit The Food Trust to explore a map to see where, when and how you can earn Food Bucks to purchase fruits and vegetables, and watch the video below to learn more about the Food Bucks program.

Farmers markets, corner stores, supermarkets or other retailers serving SNAP-eligible populations can apply to distribute Food Bucks by contacting Emily Schmidlapp at eschmidlapp@thefoodtrust.org or 215-575-0444, ext. 5178.

#REACH4Allegheny Wednesdays!

#REACH4Allegheny

The Allegheny County Health Department is teaming up with local and national partners to address disparities in African-American communities. The REACH program, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -funded initiative, aims to achieve health equity and prevent chronic disease.

In order to spread awareness, #REACH4Allegheny Wednesdays have been created to spotlight REACH partner organizations.

See below for a brief spotlight on two REACH partners:

Youth Opportunities Unlimited is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering youth through education and mentoring. They offer after-school, in-school and summer programming to focus on academic and behavioral improvement. They received a small grant from the REACH Initiative and are teaching children about different cultures.

As part of the program, kids learn about a culture and then eat and cook a meal associated with that culture. For instance, they cooked a Chinese meal that consisted of lo mein with chicken and shrimp fried rice with bubble tea. Students also learned about Jamaica’s history and culture and enjoyed a Jamaican dinner courtesy of 2 Sisters 2 Sons restaurant in Sharpsburg. The youth later prepared jerk chicken, “Rasta Pasta,” steamed cabbage, rice and peas, fried plantains and Jamaican rum cake.

Follow them on Facebook to catch up on all their activities –> YouthOppor Development | Facebook.

Allen Place Community Services offers virtual fitness classes, including the “Dance and Be Fit” program led by the king of line dancing, Roland Ford. Founder and Retired Nurse Jerry Allen is committed to providing health and wellness programs for older residents on the Northside and beyond. The organization also offers a weekly Bible study for your spiritual health via Zoom. Check out their website for more information: https://www.allenplacepgh.org

#LiveWellAllegheny

#REACH4Allegheny

Allegheny County Asthma Control Program

May is peak allergy and asthma season for most people in the U.S., which is why the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declared May “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” Nationally, about 25 million Americans have asthma, 1 in 5 of those are children.

Asthma is one of the most common and costly diseases in the country, and it is also one of the top causes of missed school days in children ages 5 to 17. In 2019, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that Black children are three times more likely to have asthma, and five times more likely to visit the emergency room due to asthma than white children. According to the American Lung Association’s 2021 State of Air report, there were 18,071 cases of pediatric asthma, and 108,246 cases of adult asthma in Allegheny county in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

ACHD recently received a grant from the PA Department of Health to fund the Allegheny County Asthma Control Program (ACAC). This is a four-year grant that builds on the work of an asthma taskforce that was convened as part of the Plan for a Healthy Allegheny. The ACAC uses evidence-based strategies to prevent asthma illness and reduce disparities. ACAC’s overall goal is to improve the reach, quality, effectiveness, and sustainability of asthma control services in Allegheny County.

The following ACHD programs are partnering for the implementation of the ACAC: Air Quality, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Safe and Healthy Homes. ACAC is also partnering with the American Lung Association, Duquesne University’s School for Integrative Health and Women for a Healthy Environment. We look forward to welcoming a Program Manager in June.

The ACAC is implementing the EXHALE strategies that were developed by the National Asthma Control Program of the Centers for Disease Control:

E-Education on asthma self-management.

X-eXtinguishing smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

H-Home visits for trigger reduction and asthma self-management education.

A-Achievement of guidelines-based medical management.

L-Linkages and coordination of care across settings.

E-Environmental policies or best practices to reduce asthma triggers from indoor, outdoor, or occupational sources.

For more information, please visit the National Asthma Control Program website.

Pitt Eats: Healthy Eating on Campus!

At the beginning of 2021 five new Pitt Eats dining locations on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus became the newest Live Well Allegheny Restaurants. They are The Eatery, Schenley Café, Petersen Events Center- Shake Smart, Petersen Events Center- Steel City Subs and the Cathedral of Learning. We interviewed Pitt Eats’ Sustainability Director Lisia de Lima Spellman to learn more about how they use food to encourage health, wellness, and sustainability on campus.

What is the background/history of Pitt Eats’ sustainability initiatives?

We believe serving healthy and nutritious food provides a foundation for lifelong learning. We are proud to feed future leaders and understand the immense responsibility to nourish our guests’ minds and bodies. We believe that wellness goes beyond our dining halls. To support a well-balanced healthy lifestyle, we create programs that help our guests live life to its fullest. From sourcing our ingredients to preparing our menus, we keep health and wellness at the forefront of everything we do.

How does Pitt Eats’ commitment to sustainability assist the efforts of Live Well Allegheny?

Pitt Eats’ commitment to sustainability embraces the system as whole, including the environment and the people. Providing healthy and nutritious food to our guests is how we assist the efforts of Live Well Allegheny.

What do you consider the greatest success to come from Pitt Eats’ sustainability efforts so far?

We consider each sustainability initiative a great success and each one of them will create an impact in the environment and in the community. Reducing waste, increasing the amount of sustainable food purchasing, reducing GHG emissions, having more local foods in our portfolio, donating food, and donating 5% of a purchase back to the Pitt Pantry are examples of the sustainable initiatives we drive.

What are your plans moving forward?

  • Expanding the Real Food Challenge across campus to serve 25% Real Food by 2025.
  • Serve 50% of to-go meals and beverages in reusable containers by 2025.
  • Serve meals that put plants at the center of the plate by decreasing the amount of animal-derived products sold by 25% by 2025.
  • Expand food waste composting 50% by 2025.
  • Reduce landfill waste by 25% by 2030 from 2017 levels.

To learn more about the Pitt Eats dining locations, or other Live Well Allegheny Restaurants visit the Live Well Allegheny Restaurants page.

Breathe PA releases a New Multi-Language Asthma Action Workbook

Breathe Pennsylvania has released a new Asthma Action Workbook in multiple language to address gaps in the healthcare of children with asthma. Language barriers can prevent proper communication between family, school, healthcare providers and community support groups.

Breathe Pennsylvania provides supportive programs to address the health and well-being of children with asthma in Allegheny County. The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges in the way we provide education, healthcare, and emotional support to keep our children with asthma safe and healthy. The key to proper asthma management is correct assessment, diagnosis and treatment.  Communications within the team of child, parent or guardian, healthcare provider, school, and community are vital. COVID-19 has placed new demands on the asthma care team’s time and resources.

The new Asthma Action Workbook can help by providing opportunities for more child-centered communication, and increased engagement of parents or guardians of children with asthma. It is a valuable resource for families, schools, healthcare providers, and community groups to support proper asthma management. This workbook can reflect the specific needs of each child to foster a better understanding and partnership with families and schools with the aim of reducing trips to the Emergency Department and stays in the hospital. It will help to better define and organize the individual management needs at home, school and in the community. The workbook includes an Asthma Action Plan which will help to ensure everyone is on the same page and reduce miscommunications due to language barriers.

Breathe Pennsylvania works closely with Allegheny County school nurses to provide a School Asthma Initiative (SAI), which is an asthma management program. The initiative provides in-person and real-time virtual education, training, and resources throughout Allegheny County. The goal of SAI is to promote a healthy life for all children diagnosed with asthma.

A free download of the workbook is available in English, Spanish, Somali, Swahili, Arabic, or Nepali at: School Asthma Initiative (SAI) – Breathe PA

For additional information on asthma education, training, and resources, or to speak to a Certified Asthma Educator, please contact Breathe Pennsylvania at breathepa.org

Join Breathe Pennsylvania in supporting our children with asthma. “Stay Well and Stay Safe.”

September is National Recovery Month

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many new challenges that have had an impact on those with substance use disorder. Emotional stressors such as potential job loss, working full-time from home without child care and a decrease in face-to-face social interaction have created additional barriers for people to seek treatment or access treatment or recovery support when they want or need it. The Overdose Prevention Project at the Allegheny County Health Department works with partners to provide resources to individuals and communities to address substance use disorder.

September is National Recovery Month. The month-long campaign aims to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, while supporting those with substance use disorders to live a healthy and rewarding life. The Health Department joins in celebrating the gains made by those living in recovery in all its forms.

According to Allegheny County’s Fatal Overdose Dashboard since 2008, Allegheny County, has experienced fatal overdose rates higher than those seen throughout much of the country. There were 3,180 fatal drug overdoses in Allegheny County between 2014 and 2019 and 89% of these overdose deaths were opioid-related. While accidental overdose deaths in Allegheny County dropped 33% from 2017 (738) to 2018 (492), there are still far too many people dying from overdose, with 570 lives lost to overdose in 2019.

While treatment and harm reduction services are still available and being offered for those in need, ACHD and its partners have worked extremely hard to provide tools so that communities are safely prepared to respond to overdose. Tools include information about treatment options and Naloxone distribution to Allegheny County communities. For those in recovery that may be at risk for recurrence of use or those in active use currently at risk of overdose, family members or friends should have Narcan available at home. Narcan is a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Visit bit.ly/AlleghenySaferUse for tips to prevent overdose and infection and resource information to access harm reduction services.

Throughout the month of September and October, ACHD and its partners have hosted multiple Narcan giveaway days and resource fairs in priority communities that were identified through ACHD’s overdose surveillance and community engagement efforts.

Join us in recognizing those who continue their struggle by attending one of these upcoming events.

Upcoming Narcan Giveaways

Celebrate National Breastfeeding Month

Breastfeeding has health benefits for both baby and mother and the longer a baby is breastfed, the greater the benefits. Women who don’t breastfeed are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancer as they age. Infants who are fed breastmilk are at lower risk of developing ear infections, diarrhea, asthma, and obesity. More information about the benefits of breastfeeding are provided by the Centers for Disease Control at this link.

Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said that infants benefit from breastmilk through the thousands of components it contains that interact to protect them from infections and to grow and develop optimally. For women, starting from the earliest stages of pregnancy, their bodies prepare for lactation. Breastfeeding is then part of the way women adapt to post-delivery.

For example, breastfeeding helps the uterus to shrink down to a pre-pregnancy size and reduces postpartum bleeding. It also uses fat stores that were added during pregnancy. It is for this reason that people refer to breastfeeding as part of the 4th trimester, Dr. Bogen said.

“The health impacts of breastfeeding for both women and infants are undeniable,” Dr. Bogen said. “But remember, although breastfeeding is natural and optimal – it is not always easy. Women and families need support to breastfeed successfully – from health professionals, family, friends and community.”

August is National Breastfeeding Month and the theme is Many Voices United. According to the United States Breastfeeding Committee, “Now, more than ever, we must come together to identify and implement the policy and systems changes that are needed to ensure that every family that chooses breastfeeding has the support and resources they need to succeed.”

Breastfeeding initiation rates have risen slowly and steadily for the past 20 years in the United States. As of 2017, 84% of all infants born in the U.S. received at least one breastmilk feeding. That was up from 76% in 2010.

However, the rates of exclusive breastfeeding and the duration of breastfeeding lag behind the Healthy People 2020 goals set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2017, 58% of infants were still being fed any breastmilk at age 6 months and only 35% at 12 months.

With supportive employers and communities, women are more likely to reach their own breastfeeding goals and the national recommendations of exclusive breastmilk feeding for the first 6 months of life and continuation of breastfeeding with the addition of solid food until at least 12 months of age.

The Allegheny County Breastfeeding Coalition is working to do this by encouraging breastfeeding friendly workplaces.

Allegheny County Breastfeeding Coalition

In celebration of National Breastfeeding Month, the Allegheny County Breastfeeding Coalition (ACBC) in collaboration with the Allegheny County Health Department’s Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) accepted nominations for the 24th Breastfeeding Friendly Place Award. The ACBC makes a conscientious effort to recognize workplaces, public places and other sites away from home that put forth an effort in accommodating breastfeeding. The ACBC and WIC announced the United Way of Southwestern PA, a fellow Live Well Allegheny Workplace, as the winner of the 2020 Breastfeeding Friendly Place Award.

“We’re honored to be recognized by Allegheny County Health Department as both a Live Well Allegheny Workplace and a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace,” said Bobbi Watt Geer, president and CEO, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. “Every day, we’re on the front lines helping people throughout our region live fully. Though the coronavirus pandemic has hit our community hard, especially struggling families, we know there’s power in doing everything we can to practice self-care. And we know that starts with us. I’m proud to be part of the United Way team that prioritizes health and well-being, inside and outside our offices.”

The United Way strives to create a breastfeeding friendly environment for staff when they return to work. The organization provides a comfortable and welcoming space for breastfeeding mothers, and its policies include providing pumping time for mothers returning to work and supporting a lactation room that provides privacy and refrigeration spaces. The entire organization is very supportive of their coworkers breastfeeding journeys.

According to Dannai Wilson, Allegheny County Health Department Maternal and Child Health Program Manager, “It is important for workplaces to support breastfeeding as it has shown to be a return on their investment with reductions in healthcare costs, employee absenteeism, turnover, increased retention, morale, and loyalty.”

Research has proven that supportive employers and communities improve the odds of families reaching their breastfeeding goals and the national recommendations of exclusive breastmilk feeding for the first 6 months of life and continuation of breastfeeding with the addition of solid food until at least 12 months of age. The ACBC is dedicated to supporting and initiating efforts to normalize breastfeeding to improve health outcomes of families in every community across Allegheny County.  If you are interested in working with the ACBC or the Breastfeeding Friendly Place Award, please contact Sharon Leavitt.

The ACBC will be accepting nominations for the 25th Breastfeeding Friendly Place Award starting in March of 2021.

Support for Moms and Babies

Are you a mom looking for breastfeeding support? There are a lot of resources available.

  • If you have questions about breastfeeding or need help, please call the Breastfeeding Help Line at 412-687-2243 that is managed by the Allegheny County Health Department, Maternal and Child Health Program. The helpline is available Monday-Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. All calls are referred to registered nurses, certified lactation counselors, and an internationally board-certified lactation consultant. Staff will help you start breastfeeding; answer questions and problem solve with you so that you can continue breastfeeding your baby.
  • The Healthy Start Center for Urban Breastfeeding offers breastfeeding support provided by Certified Lactation Consultants (CLCs) to help mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals. They also have events and trainings. More information is available at their web site.
  • The Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle has organized meetups for moms of African descent to provide support for breastfeeding. More information is available at their web site.