Archive | July, 2022

Healthy Food Access

One important topic in public health is healthy food access, or the ability to get healthy food, often around barriers like price, physical distance to stores, or a lack of nutrient-rich food. For many, summer can bring higher access to healthy food because it is convenient to stop at a local farm stand. A map of local farm stands can be found on the website of nonprofit CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) at https://www.buylocalfood.org/

However, summer food access can be difficult for families whose children eat regularly at school cafeterias or simply because fresh produce can be pricey. Local options for meals for those under 18 are on Project Bread’s website: https://www.projectbread.org/

Additionally, Massachusetts developed a creative solution to increasing food access and helping strengthen local farms: the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). The program works alongside SNAP benefits (formerly food stamp dollars): anyone who is eligible for any amount these benefits has at least “an extra” $40 dollars a month (as an instant, automatic refund) that can be used on produce and other food items without preservatives. HIP dollars are widely used year-round at farmers markets and benefit local farmers! Only certain retailers accept HIP, so check out CISA’s website buylocalfood.org for information on where to redeem HIP. Or, chat up your local farmer at the market!

Questions about HIP? Or want to sign up?

More information and a quick screen for eligibility on the mass.gov website  : https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-snap-benefits-food-stamps

To ask questions and sign up, call the Food Bank of Western MA (413-992-6204—English and Spanish), Project Bread (800-645-8333—a variety of languages), or call Community Action Pioneer Valley (413-475-1570).

Franklin County HIP Locations (English)

Franklin County HIP Locations (Spanish)

 

Water and Wastewater Systems Study

FRCOG has just released the 2022 Franklin County Water and Wastewater Systems Study. Using grant funds from an U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), FRCOG hired the consulting firm Tighe & Bond, Inc. to assess 18 public water systems (serving areas in 15 municipalities) and 15 public wastewater facilities (serving areas in 13 municipalities). In addition, the Study evaluated three village centers without public water systems and three village centers without wastewater systems that are in need of such systems.

For more information about the Study, please contact Jessica Atwood at jatwood@frcog.org.

Summer Food Safety Tips

Ah, summer! An excellent time for barbecues, picnics, hiking and boating. There are many outdoor eating opportunities with family and friends—and the last guest you want to invite is food borne illness. Clean your hands, utensils and surfaces with soap and water, then follow these tips to keep food safe:

• Separate raw meat and poultry—and the plates and utensils that touch them—from other foods. Avoid cross-contamination with raw meats by using clean knives and cutting boards for produce and other foods.

• Keep hot food in crock-pots or ovens and serve small amounts more frequently.

• Be chill: Avoid leaving food at room temperature for longer than 2 hours (or 1 hour, if over 90°F. Instead, keep food in an insulated cooler with ice or ice packs (ice above and below food is best).

• When in doubt, toss it out: All foods left without temperature control for 1 hour or more and have reached room temperature (>75°F) should not be served to you or your guests.

Getting food poisoning from unsafe food may take hours to days to develop, depending on the type of germ. The most common symptoms food poisoning include upset stomach, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. See a doctor you have severe symptoms, including but not limited to, a fever over 100°F, bloody diarrhea, frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down, and signs of dehydration, including a very dry mouth or throat or little/no urination.

If you’ve been diagnosed with food borne illness, please contact your local health department.

Flyer to share: Summer food safety poster

This health education topic brought to you by the Cooperative Public Health Service Health District — contact Health Educator Maureen O’Reilly with any questions at moreillyATfrcog.org