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UAlbany Coalition Highlights Healthy Eating

October 15, 2009

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Healthy Hearts founders

From left, Health Hearts on the Hill Coalition founders Rev. Beresford Bailey of the Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church, UAlbany's Lisa Ferretti, Dr. Bob Paeglow of Koinonia Primary Care, and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

In the current economy, getting the daily required servings of fruits and vegetables is even harder in communities like West Hill. The Healthy Hearts on the Hill Coalition is working to improve the nutritional value of meals, whether at food pantries or in people's own homes.

On Oct. 1, the Coalition presented five $1,000 grants to local businesses and agencies to improve healthy food options in the West Hill neighborhood of Albany.

The awards are a next step in the Coalition's work by creating opportunities for healthier food options in the community. The grants will go to:

• First Church in Albany Food Pantry, which is offering squash, pumpkins and apples, and healthier choices at the church's free monthly community dinners, feeding 200-250 people a month.

• Center City Parish Social Ministry, now buying boxes of fruits and vegetables for the food pantry. Three hundred families are served by the food pantry and another 1,200 through the soup kitchen.

• NERDGE Inc., expanding street vendors' inventory to include fruits and vegetables in West Hill.

• A new Trinity Café at the Trinity Institute-Homer Perkins Center, offering ideas on preparing healthy leftovers, making nutritious holiday dinners, making healthier snacks for children and tips on budgeting for good nutrition.

• Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless Drop-In Center will now be able to offer fresh fruits and vegetables with meals more than the current two to three times a week. Some 7,000 people were served at the center in 2008.

Lisa A. Ferretti, co-chair of the Coalition and a Public Service Professor at UAlbany’s School of Social Welfare, said funding for the awards came from a legacy grant awarded to the Healthy Hearts Coalition by Bronx Reach Health.

"Hundreds of residents will now have greater opportunities for a better diet, making an important difference particularly for the health of people with diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases," said Ferretti.

"The five agencies and faith communities we recognize today once again demonstrate the strengths and commitment of the neighborhoods of West Hill, Arbor Hill and the South End to be part of the solution to the problems residents face day to day," said Dr. Bob Paeglow, medical director of Koinonia and co-chair of Healthy Hearts Coalition at an event announcing the grants.

School of Social Welfare Professor and Director of the Center for Excellence in Aging Services Philip McCallion addressed the current national debate about the billions spent on health care premiums and the call for health care reform. "These initiatives highlight that some of the most important health interventions are at the local level and that much can be achieved at a relatively low cost."

The Center co-founded the Coalition in 2007 with Koinonia Primary Care, a faith-based healthcare provider. The Coalition includes community residents and many local organizations, including Albany United Methodist Society, Albany Community Action Partnership, and West Hill Neighborhood Association.

Healthy Hearts is looking forward to the grand finale of the Biggest Winner Competition in December. More than 200 residents have joined to seek health care, exercise more, and reduce glucose and cholesterol levels.
 

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