Healthy UNH Blogger: Ann Steeves, All Entries

Equipment Rentals from Campus Recreation

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
By: Ann Steeves
 

Are you an outdoor adventure enthusiast? Interested in seeing what the great outdoors can offer you for physical activity? Well the University of New Hampshire offers extremely discounted rental prices for students! Try out kayaking for only $10, or snowshoeing for $8, or all the equipment for a weekend hiking trip! The Hamel Recreation Center tons of great rental equipment, so that you can try out whatever you are interested in without committing to the high prices of buying your own gear!

It is so easy to get into workout ruts, especially now that it is getting cold! So why not try some new outdoor activities? Get outside to burn some calories and adventure around UNH’s beautiful campus! Did you know:

  • Moderate Cross Country Skiing Burns 478-745 calories per hour!
  • Ice Skating burns 413-651 calories per hour! –Check out Open skate!
  • Kayaking burns 295-465 calories per hour!

Visit this site to see how many calories are burned during your outdoor activity!

Tagged In: active, Campus Recreation, equipment, Equipment Rentals, Fitness, Hamel Rec, Healthy UNH, Hiking, kayak, Kelsey McCullough, Physical Activity, snowshoe

Free Therapy in Nature

Wednesday, August 7, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

Health cost is an unavoidable topic for the future of the Health Care industry. Mental health care, especially, is often neglected because of the perceived cost of treatment. 47% of individuals with untreated mental illnesses cited cost as a barrier to obtaining treatment, according to a 2007 research study published in the academic journal Psychiatric Services. Many people try to calm themselves by listening to a bird-song album or setting up a desk fountain to imitate the sounds of a running brook. Individuals in our fast-paced society are searching for solace and an escape from their stresses. I am convinced that individuals can find this solace in nature. A simple walk outside in the woods allows meditation. I frequent college woods and the many places of natural solitude on and around campus. My top three favorites include:

  • The trails of West Foss farm, off of Mill Road. Last summer I was stretching in a meadow area here and spotted a gorgeous Blue Heron take off from the grass and soar through the sky above me.
  • The field by the UNH Observatory, overlooking a small pond (on the way to Woodman farm).
  • Less-frequented trails in College Woods, where I once locked eyes with an owl.

These experiences allow you to connect with yourself and with nature, and free your mind of worries. Clinical mental health care is very important and necessary for many individuals with mental illness, but let us always remember that free care is available with simple deep breathing and basking in the glory of the world around you.

It turns out that health professionals recognize the value of nature and incorporate such experiences in wilderness therapy programs. Wilderness therapy uses wilderness experiences for the purpose of therapeutic intervention. UNH is lucky to have prominent researcher, Michael Gass, on campus as a Professor and the Coordinator of the Outdoor Education program in the College of Health and Human Services. He is also the current Director of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs and the Director of UNH’s Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative (OBHRC). OBHRC’s research on wilderness therapy programs are distinguished knowledge used throughout the county and the world. Wilderness therapy offers individuals a holistic intervention and centers around building self-reliance and self-respect. Through experiences with nature, individuals are able to reconnect to themselves and their environment in a way which clinical settings never could.

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, College Woods, deep breathing, Health Cost, Healthy UNH, holistic, Mental Health, mental wellness, Michael Gass, nature, Physical Activity, relax, self-reliance, self-respect, UNH Observatory, West Foss farm, Wilderness therapy

Health Cost: Pay your Farmer now, or Pay your Doctor later

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

There’s no denying the rising costs of health care in our nation. Health spending has been rising steadily for several years. Americans spend nearly 20% of their income on healthcare costs, while on average spending 10% of their income on food. This disparity affects the health of our nation and must be acknowledged and addressed. Considering the age-old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” may be the first step to attempt to reduce healthcare spending—and the key place to start is food consumption.  If you start to consider your diet a form of preventative health care, you might start rethinking you daily meals.  

In our age of industrial agriculture, cheap food is easy to access—and is often loaded with fats, calories and chemicals that negatively affect our bodies and lead to health problems. How does your body feel after you consume a double cheeseburger or a bag of chips compared to after consuming a plate of veggies or fresh fruit? That said, how easy is it to access a bag of chips compared to fresh vegetables at your local convenience store? It may be easier and cheaper to obtain “junk food” for your daily snack, but consider the future health ramifications to which these foods may contribute when making your daily choices. It was Hippocrates who stated, “Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.”

It’s easy to wander down the grocery store aisle in a rush, heading for your favorite snack food to grab and go. Next time you are in this situation, pause to ponder an alternative. Instead of limiting your food budget now, why not opt to spend a little more on better quality foods to prevent future health complications. Hey, why not opt to forgo the supermarket and head to your local farmers’ market to purchase foods which will not only nourish yourself, but will help nourish your community through economic stimulus and respect for the land and animals. Find your local farmers market listing on Seacoast Eat Local’s website here: http://www.seacoasteatlocal.org/seacoastharvest/index.php?page=farmersmarkets.

Starting to pay attention to the true value of foods and making nourishing purchases may be the first step to lowering health costs. It was Thomas Edison who stated, “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” The future is now! The brightest minds in history have discussed the nature of one’s diet and health. Let’s start recognizing the power of healthy eating and make responsible choices for our health and our future. Take the first step toward lowering health costs and rethink your diet as preventative health care. 

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, farms, food consumption, Health, Health Care Consumerism, health costs, Healthy UNH, prevention

Recent Study Ties Physical Activity to Longer Attention Span

Monday, July 15, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

A recent study out of the University of Granada has linked participating in physical activity with longer attention spans. Better cognitive abilities such as time perception were also higher in physically active participants. It has been generally known that physical activity lends itself to better overall health outcomes, but this study clearly illustrates a strong relationship between physical activity and longer attention spans. Antonio Luque Casado, a researcher from the University of Granada’s Department of Experimental Psychology made it clear that the study’s results are “preliminary” and future investigations must take place to confirm the correlation. However, implications from this study must be realized. What can be drawn from the results of this study and applied to today’s society? Perhaps we can consider the incredible spike in attention deficit disorder diagnoses in children in the past decade.

 According to the CDC, as of 2007, 2.7 million youth ages 4-17 were receiving medication treatment for ADHD.  This figure is only 66.3% of those with a current diagnosis in 2007. More recent statistics were unavailable, but I only expect them to be higher. Although the data is six years old, it is absolutely astonishing… 2.7 million youth on medication to help them concentrate?! Perhaps children are over-diagnosed with ADHD and in reality are not receiving adequate time for physical activity. We are all aware that this generation of children may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents due to chronic health conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. We must evaluate our society’s pressing health issues and realize their complexities and multidimensional factors. We must acknowledge noted research studies, such as this one, and make evidence-based health policy decisions. If physical activity helps increase an individual’s attention span, we must demand that schools and youth programs provide sufficient physical activities such as recess and physical education classes. If youth are given more time to be active, we may be able to address attention deficit disorder and obesity, two pressing health issues, with one solution. 

Tagged In: ADD, Ann Steeves, attention, Attention Deficit Disorder, cognitive, Healthy UNH, mental wellness, Obesity, physcial activity, Physical Activity, physical education classes, recess, time perception

Study shows link between group singing and mental health

Monday, June 17, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

I’ve always loved to sing. I grew up in a musical family, where we were constantly performing for and with each other. There’s nothing I enjoy more than harmonizing with my siblings. There’s something special about singing in harmony with others—your personal responsibility to hold your own part, while acknowledging others and blending with their voices. It’s an awesome experience to produce a balanced oneness among different voices. It requires practice, patience, and motivation, but the end result is well worth it. I was involved with school choir groups growing up, which remain some of my fondest childhood memories. These experiences undoubtedly helped build my confidence and character from a young age.

Therefore, it’s no surprise to learn the results of a 2011 study out of Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. The study showed involvement in community singing groups, increased an individual’s social capital, mental health, and wellbeing. Social capital is a sociological concept, which values connections and experiences between individuals and communities. Study participants’ sense of safety and inclusion within their community was significantly higher than that of the general population. I can attest to the sense of belonging in a group that sings together. Everyone is working toward a common goal of harmony and each voice is important in order to successfully achieve this. Singing also regulates one’s breathing. Mindful deep breathing is a key tool to managing anxiety and singing requires deep breaths from the diaphragm in proper practice. Whether it is recognized or not, singing is a wonderful tool to manage stress and anxiety and increase overall mental health and wellbeing. Turn up your favorite album and belt out some tunes today! 

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, anxiety, common goal, community singing, harmony, Healthy UNH, Mental Health, mental wellness, singing, social capital, wellbeing

Yoga and Mental Health

Wednesday, June 5, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

I’ve always loved stretching and meditating. I can attribute this practice to my mom, who teaches Hatha yoga. Growing up, stretching was a part of my daily life. If I were stressed, I would do some stretches and deep breathing to try to calm down. This practice has followed me to college and has helped me calm down many times when overwhelmed with academic and personal commitments. I usually have practiced on my own, but have recently started taking yoga classes downtown at Three Bridges Yoga . I am really enjoying the structured classes. Classes provide guidance through different postures and new challenges to try. Yoga is all about controlling one’s breath—the practice of pranayama. As you control your breath, you become mindful of your body.  Controlling your breath creates an inner-peace, which will help you control your energy. Try this practice today, by dedicating some time for yourself. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and first notice your breathing pattern. Begin to take in long, deep breaths, holding the air in your lungs for a moment in between inhales and exhales. A brief practice of controlled breathing will give you energy to continue throughout your day. 

A Harvard School of Public Health newsletter states that studies suggest yoga reduces the impact of stress responses and helps individuals cope with anxiety and depression. I can attest to this as I have struggled with anxiety, and yoga has given me strength to work through anxious thoughts. Three Bridges downtown is currently offering a great deal for UNH students—just $25 a month for unlimited yoga. There are between 3 and 6 classes every day. There are many opportunities for yoga on campus with classes at Campus Rec for students and in the Paul Creative Art Center for faculty and staff. There are also FREE yoga classes on campus Wednesdays and Fridays from 12-1pm in the MUB’s Wildcat Den. Find out more about yoga opportunities on campus. A national survey estimated that only 4% of U.S. adults have practiced yoga in the previous year. With the high rates of anxiety and depression in today’s society, give yoga a try! If anything, take some time to practice deep breathing exercises and see how it makes you feel. 

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, anxiety, breathing, Depression, Healthy UNH, meditating, Mental Health, mental wellness, Physical Activity, Stress, stretching, Yoga

“Eat More Kale”—the Superfood behind the slogan

Monday, May 6, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

You’ve probably seen the merch around campus: stickers, t-shirts, buttons and more with the “eat more kale” slogan stamped on the center. You may have even heard of the lawsuit last year when Chick-fil-A insisted the kale slogan was too similar to their “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign (lest people start eating kale instead of chicken!). The hearty green has received a lot of attention over the past few years. It’s one of my favorite foods, and I encourage everyone to make it part of their diet.

            So, what’s the buzz on kale? This incredible superfood is not just another diet or trend. Kale is packed with nutrients and health-promoting components to help nourish your body. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk and 10x more Vitamin C than spinach. It is low in calories and carbs, while high in vitamins and antioxidants. One serving of kale provides 5% of the recommended daily intake of fiber, overshadowing comparable protein sources such as meat that contain almost none. The consumption of animal products contributes to inflammation in the human body, leading to many adverse health conditions including arthritis and heart disease. Kale has huge anti-inflammatory properties to help protect against these outcomes.

No wonder a Vermont farmer started the “Eat More Kale” slogan a few years ago—people should eat more kale. Try braising it, steaming it, or baking it as a casserole. Try out my favorite kale dish, Cheesy Kale. The recipe was developed by Dan Winans for UNH’s HMGT 403: Food and Beverage Management lab. I was introduced to the recipe freshman year and have made it many times since— it never fails to satisfy and is a great way to introduce non-kale eaters to the wondrous superfood!

 

Cheesy Kale Recipe

Yield 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

2 bunches                   kale, stems removed and chopped

1 large                                     onion, small dice

2 tablespoons                        butter

1 cup                           apple cider

12 ounces                   white cheddar cheese, grated, split into 8 and 4 ounces

4 cups                         multi grain bread, cut into ½ inch cubes

To taste                      sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 tablespoon              butter, to butter the pan 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Butter a 2 inch half hotel pan or a pan of equivalent size.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of butter then the onion, season with salt and pepper.
  5. Sweat the onion approximately five minutes or until the onion is translucent, not brown.
  6. Add the chopped kale, increase the heat to high and season the kale before it wilts.
  7. Continue to cook the kale stirring occasionally. 
  8. The kale will need to cook approximately five minutes maybe more, maybe less, until it is tender. 
  9. If the pan dries out add some cider a couple of ounces at a time.

10.  Once the kale is cooked, toss it with the bread cubes and 8 ounces of shredded cheese. 

11.  Spread the kale mixture evenly in the prepared hotel pan, then top with the remaining 4 ounces of cheese. 

Place the kale dish in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until it is heated through and the cheese on top is light brown.

Tagged In: Annie Steeves, antioxidants, calcium, cheesy kale, Eat More Kale, fiber, Healthy UNH, iron, kale, Nutrition, protein, recipe, spinach, vitamin C

HMP 5K

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

The University of New Hampshire’s Department of Health Management and Policy prepares undergraduates to become leading health professionals in the ever-expanding Health Care Industry. Through this department, students get exposed to many aspects of health care, including data analysis, finance management, epidemiology, ethics, and policy. A reoccurring theme throughout the Department’s courses is health promotion.

               The Department’s Student Organization for Health Leadership (SOHL) is holding the Second Annual Wildcat 5k this Sunday, April 21, to raise funds for student scholarships and promote healthy behaviors in the UNH community. This event promotes healthy and active lifestyles. Last year’s event raised over $3000 for Health Management and Policy students. It was a beautiful Sunday with over 200 students and community members participating in the race.  The Department hopes this year’s event will be even better. The 5K route through College Woods can be found here. The race starts at 9am. Be sure to register online here: 

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, College Woods, Department of Health Management and Policy, Exercise, Fitness, Healthy UNH, HMP 5K, off-road run, Physical Activity, run, SOHL, Student Organization for Health Leadership, UNH programs, Wildcat 5K

Providing a Safe Environment for Children at School

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

This week is National Public Health Week, an annual celebration of public health sponsored by the American Public Health Association (APHA). Today’s theme is “Providing a Safe Environment for Children at School”. Children spend 180 days in school every year. The lessons and habits children gain during this time influence the rest of their lives. Our nation’s children develop eating habits through the National School Lunch program, which feeds more than 31 million children each day. Many children rely on this and the National School Breakfast Program for daily nutrition. With today’s incredibly high prevalence of childhood obesity, it is important for schools to provide healthy choices. According to the National Public Health Week’s website, about 17%, or 12 million of today’s children and teens aged 2 to 19 are obese. This is a serious health threat that must be addressed through healthier meals in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program.

Another important aspect of healthy school environments is tobacco control. Tobacco use has dramatically decreased over the decades, and most K-12 schools are now tobacco-free zones. Students at UNH have recently been advocating for a tobacco-free campus, with an online petition collecting signatures of supporters. Health Services hosted an event for National Kick Butts Day on March 20th, providing students with resources to quit their smoking habits. UNH is moving toward becoming healthier every day, on our way to reaching our goal of becoming the healthiest campus in the nation by 2020. When looking to create healthier environments, many researchers compare today’s struggles with “Big Food” to past decades’ crusades against “Big Tobacco”. The parallels between advertising campaigns and distribution control are quite remarkable. Read more in this research article by Kelly Brownell and Kenneth Warner of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Celebrate National Public Health Week and work to improve and recognize safe school environments in your community.

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, Healhty UNH, National Kick Butts Day, National Public Health Week, National School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch program, Nutrition, Obesity, petition, safe environment, school, students, tobacco, tobacco-free campus

Talking about Mental Health

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

More than one in four adults over 18 years of age in the U.S. suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml). Individuals struggling with mental illnesses often feel stigmatized or too embarrassed to share their personal struggles with friends or family members. Winter months bring cold weather and shorter days, which often increases feelings of depression or other mental illness. Mental illnesses are very complex and may be triggered by many causes, but individuals must remind themselves that they are not alone in their struggles. If you are experiencing sadness, depression, anxiety, or other mental health difficulties, try to talk about your feelings with a close friend or family member. You may be surprised to realize that they experience similar feelings or have dealt with them in the past. Acknowledging your emotions and sharing them with someone may give you some relief or a new perspective on your life.

If you are approached by a friend to talk about mental health, try to remain as patient as possible. Patience is a true virtue for individuals trying to help loved ones struggling with a mental illness. Remember that your support is invaluable to the individual, but be careful to acknowledge your own health and personal boundaries. If you feel unable to help an individual struggling with mental health, provide them with resources where they may find professional help. Located in Smith Hall, the UNH Counseling Center provides daily appointments to UNH students, free of charge. Their phone number is 603-862-2090. Individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts can call the National Suicide Prevention hotline 24/7 at 800-273-TALK (8255). Whatever you do, do not keep your struggles to yourself. Realize that help is available to support you through whatever life may bring. Let’s start showing our support for each other through conversation and eliminate the social stigmas against those struggling with mental health difficulties. 

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, Healthy UNH, Mental Health, mental wellness

Nutritious and Delicious—Alternatives to Easter Candy

Monday, March 25, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

Easter is right around the corner, which means it is time for Easter Basket creation. Children love receiving Easter Baskets, and many families celebrate it as a tradition for Easter morning. Easter treats can still be enjoyed, but try to look beyond the stocked shelves of Peeps and Chocolate Bunnies this year and consider healthy alternatives to usual Easter candy. One Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny, a popular Easter treat, contains 890 calories, and 48.6 grams of fat! With the growing rate of childhood obesity, good nutrition must be considered and incorporated into all childhood experiences. Think of these alternatives when packing an Easter basket this year:

-Stuff the basket with colorful fruits like clementines. They are sweet and small enough for small hands to peel!

- Bag dried fruit—very sweet, dried fruit is a wonderful alternative to processed and refined sugars.

- Include items other than candy—coloring books or markers take up space, and last longer than a sugar rush!

-If you want to include the usual candy, opt for snack-sized packages. This reduces overconsumption.

-Incorporate homemade goodies. If your child wants a treat, bake a cake together the night before! It is important for children to realize the amount of work (and fun!) it takes to prepare baked goods.

Try incorporating one new idea into this year’s basket. Remember—a healthy kid is a happy kid!

Tagged In: Alternative candy, Ann Steeves, chocolate, Easter, Healthy UNH, Nutrition, sugar

Hiking for Health

Friday, March 22, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

Physical activity does not necessarily require going to the gym.  Why spend time exercising indoors when you have the glorious wilderness to explore?! Hiking is a great workout—for the body and the mind. Even a couple miles is a great cardiovascular workout, especially if you’re carrying extra weight like a backpack with water or snacks. The serenity of nature allows your mind to be at ease as you trek the trail. The combination of aerobic activity and meditation provides a unique experience, unparalleled by other forms of physical activity. And don’t discount the added benefit of Vitamin D that comes from the sun! Just remember to use sunscreen before heading outside.

I had the opportunity to spend last week’s Spring Break backpacking through Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon with UNH Outdoor Adventures. Our group of ten left snowy New Hampshire on Friday the 8th and came back on the 17th.  We spent three days in Zion National Park before heading to the Grand Canyon, where we trekked all the way to the bottom and back for another three days. Each night we slept under the blanket of stars, witnessing the vast sky of the southwest displaying the most stars I’d ever seen. I don’t think a single night passed that we didn’t see a shooting star. Each day brought a new adventure to experience—our trek on the first day down the Grand Canyon turned out to be the most difficult trail on the South Rim! With encouragement from each other and self-motivation, we made it through. I honestly could not have asked for a better Spring Break. Spending the week outside was exactly what I needed: a breath (or two) of fresh air, a chance to challenge my body, and the opportunity to pause my life and strengthen my health. It’s important to recognize the power of physical activity and tend to your body’s needs. In our beautiful state of New Hampshire, there are many opportunities for hiking.

Campus Rec’s Outdoor Adventures leads hikes and outdoor activities throughout the semester. Check out the trip schedule here and spice up your physical activity routine! 

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, cardiovascular, challenge, Fitness, fresh air, Grand Canyon, Healthy UNH, Hiking, Outdoors, Physical Activity, Spring Break, UNH Outdoor Adventures

Zumba- the most fun you can have at the gym!

Friday, March 8, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

Like to dance? Looking to get in shape or change up your cardio workout? Ever heard of Zumba? Zumba is an energetic dance class where participants are able to let loose and have fun!  I took a Zumba class a few days ago after a two-year hiatus of zumba-ing and I honestly forgot how much fun it was! The dance moves are relatively simple but fast paced to get your heartbeat going. Most of the music is top-40’s hits that you can sing along to if you want to make the most of the experience. It’s a one-hour class of dancing to the beat in a room of 30+ people doing the same thing. It’s one giant party led by a peppy instructor! The moves are relatively easy and repetitive so that everyone can get the hang of them. When the more difficult moves break out, I usually actually get a better workout working my abs with laughter while trying to stay with the beat. Lucky for UNH students, the Whittemore Center offers free Zumba classes every day in the Hamel Rec Center’s studio. Classes are offered Mondays 4:45-5:30pm, Tuesdays 7:45-8:30pm and 8:30-9:15pm, Wednesdays 6-6:45pm, Thursday 8-8:45pm, Fridays 3:30-4:15pm, Saturdays 12:45-1:45pm, and Sundays 5:00-6:00pm. Check out the full aerobic class schedule here. With a class every day of the week, there’s no excuse to not give Zumba a try! And don’t think the class is limited to women—the last class I took had about five guys getting their groove on! Try Zumba and you are guaranteed to have a good time. 

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, dance, Fitness, Hamel rec center, Healthy UNH, Physical Activity, whittemore, Zumba, zumba classes

Get Real! UNH and the growing student food movement

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

Young people have always clarified the morality of our times. This sentiment was echoed throughout this past weekend as the student organization, Get Real! UNH, had the opportunity to attend the Second Annual Real Food Challenge “Breaking Ground” National Summit. The Real Food Challenge is a growing student movement working toward changing institutional purchasing power to create a more just and sustainable food system. I’m sure at this point you are wondering what “real food” equates to.  Real food is food that truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities, and the earth. The Real Food Challenge has more in-depth standards for evaluation comprising of four categories: local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane. Get Real! and our peers across the nation are using these categories to evaluate the food served in Dining Halls and work with Dining Administrators to explore different options.

I’m sure you may be wondering how college students could possibly change the food system? Students have the power to make real change through their University’s institutional buying power.  Let me provide some perspective: nearly two-thirds of all universities outsource their Dining services (UNH is lucky to be self-operated!). Of this 2/3, 93% are operated by one of the top three service providers: Compass Group, Sodexho, or Aramark. All three of these corporations operate internationally and make billions of dollars of revenue annually. Compass Group makes $20 billion, Sodexho makes $19 billion, and Aramark makes $12 billion. With these numbers in mind, you may be surprised to learn that McDonald’s only generates an annual revenue of $24 billion globally. Most people generalize that McDonald’s purchasing power has immense control of the food system around the world. When observed from this perspective, however, it astonishes that only the top three institutional providers generate over twice as much in revenue. This realization indicates the incredible purchasing power and influence on supply chains that colleges and universities are part of.

The University of New Hampshire is proud to be a self-operated school and a leader in sustainability. We are proud to share our inspiring initiatives with our peers across the nation. Many schools are unable to talk with their Dining Administration, do not have any locally sourced foods, and are completely foreign to the concept of composting food waste to use in University agriculture. We are very proud of our University’s efforts and recognize how well we compare to other schools. The Sustainability Institute has a large presence on campus and works with Dining to assess purchases. Through the Sustainability Academy, UNH has evaluated our Dining purchases and assessed that we have 26% of our food locally sourced within a 250 mile radius. Get Real! and the Real Food Challenge would like to do further analysis beyond what is local to find out where we stand with national standards. It is exciting to have a national standard for institutions to be held to. A standard is meant to be a benchmark of quality. Too many schools and institutions claim to be “going green” or to have their own standard of sustainability. The implication of following one’s own standard is completely contrary to the definition of a standard. UNH is proud to be part of the movement to hold institutions accountable to national standards.  

Our generation will bear the brunt of the current food system. Many groups on campus recognize this and are involved with food in some way; SlowFood works to preserve and revitalize food culture, Oxfam works to address poverty and women’s rights in agriculture, the Student Environmental Action Coalition works toward changing environmental policies that are often intertwined with food policy, the Organic Garden Club works to grow real food on campus, the Freedom Café works toward raising awareness of human trafficking through serving quality coffees and teas, the Student Nutrition Association works toward educating peers on healthy food choices, and many students are studying aspects of the food system every day through UNH’s academic programs such as EcoGastronomy, Nutrition, Sustainable Agriculture, Environmental Conservation, or Resource Economics. Get Real! UNH is all-encompassing of these issues and works to spread awareness of the great complexities and intertwined values of the food system. Our overarching message is that every aspect of society can be connected to the food system.

Join the fight toward a more equitable world and check out one of our meetings on Mondays from 5:30- 6:30pm in MUB 114F. The food movement is here and gaining power every day. As Carlo Petrini, Founder of the SlowFood movement states, “We are the fastest growing peaceful army in the world. The politicians don’t understand yet.”

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, Dining, Health, Healthy UNH, Nutrition, Slow Food, Sustainability Academy

Health Costs and Healthcare in the US and Italy

Monday, February 11, 2013
By: Ann Steeves

The cost of healthcare is a huge issue on the national stage as the United States tries to come to terms with its overwhelming state of national debt. Concern is growing especially among young people who will be given the task of dealing with the mounting debt. The nation’s debt comes from many sources, but healthcare is a big contributor. Healthcare costs exceed nearly 20% of U.S. GDP; a staggering estimated $2 trillion annually. The US Council on Foreign Relations reported in 2012 that the US spends the greatest percentage of GDP on health care than any other developed nation. One may expect such high costs to be responsible for a successful health care system and high rates of good health. Unfortunately, this is not the truth. So why is our country spending so much and not yielding top results? It makes sense to look to other countries to discover how their health systems work.

I had the opportunity to study abroad last semester in Italy with the UNH EcoGastronomy program. The World Health Organization has ranked Italy’s healthcare system second best in the world, after France— so what is Italy doing right? Italy operates a government sponsored healthcare system, where all citizens are granted equal access to healthcare. The Ministry of Health’s official website states, “The Italian Republic safeguards health as a fundamental right of the individual and as a collective interest, and guarantees free medical care to the indigent.” With a national health care card, citizens are able to visit a doctor without paying any fees. Granted, the funding comes from higher taxes among the populace compared to the average U.S. citizen.

One of the core-founding principals of Italy’s health care is human dignity. This alone may exemplify a key difference from Italian society to ours; Italians are very proud of their culture and value their community. I noticed a huge sense of pride and honor among Italian citizens, to themselves and to their fellow citizens. As I am back in the U.S., I question how our nation’s values compare. The U.S. does not have a comprehensive national health care system, nor do we have any legislation in place that defines a citizen’s right to healthcare. Barack Obama told Tom Brokaw that he thought health care should be a right for all Americans in a 2008 presidential debate. A recent article by Micah Uetricht in The Nation, highlights the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer conference, where activists gathered to discuss health care reform. Dudzic stated, “In the US, health care is not a right, it’s a business—the biggest, most profitable business in the history of capitalism.” Is our nation too concentrated on capitalism to address the core issue of health and well being for all citizens, regardless of their ability to pay? 

Tagged In: Annie Steeves, Health Care Consumerism, health costs, Healthcare, Healthy UNH, Italy, US

Fight Stress with Physical Activity!

Friday, April 27, 2012
By: Ann Steeves

It’s the final stretch—seasonal jobs and internships are lined up, summer courses are registered for, perhaps a road trip is planned… Summer is right around the corner, and there’s just one maybe-not-so-little thing standing in your way: final papers, exams, and projects to complete. You’ve worked so hard all semester and this is it! It is apparent that everyone on campus is in the same boat, as the library is packed with so many students, it can be hard to find a seat.

This time of year, it is hard to not get caught up in the stress of it all. Between managing classes, jobs, and summer plans, it is common for students to feel overwhelmed with their growing to-do lists. However, stress can be managed, often simply with 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise. Don’t start groaning yet. Exercise truly can be enjoyable and a great way to get rid of excess stress.

Consider different options around campus besides the Whittemore Center. College Woods provides the community acres of trails to enjoy walks or jogs. The serenity of the river, and peacefulness of the surrounding woods allows individuals to forget about stress for a moment and indulge in nature. There are many trails to explore, and a sense of adventure comes with finding your way back from each new path.

Take the time out for yourself to breathe and release stress, while you generate endorphins to rejuvenate yourself. You will be more efficient, and have a better attitude about your responsibilities. Physical activity also contributes to better sleep, another important factor to reduce stress. According to fitness.gov, exercise also increases self-esteem. Who couldn’t use a bit more of that? Exercise has many benefits, and there are plenty of opportunities around campus to stay active. Think twice before the next time you lock yourself into the library—physical activity may prove to be what your body needs to feel ready for that upcoming exam!

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Physical Activity, UNH

Physical Activity Program Helps Individuals with Mental Illness

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
By: Ann Steeves

The World Health Organization defines health as “physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Too often, this holistic view is forgotten. The interdependence of all aspects of health is important when creating wellness programs.

Manadnock Family Services, a non-profit, comprehensive, community mental health service in Peterborough, NH, recognizes the important connection between physical and mental health through their In SHAPE program. Launched in 2003, In SHAPE serves 150 clients with serious mental illnesses in the Keene, NH area.  In SHAPE stands for Self Help Action for Empowerment. Dr. Stephen Bartels, director of Dartmouth College’s Centers for Health and Aging, supervises the program. He feels strongly about addressing mental illness, stating, "It can legitimately be said that this is largest and most important health disparity in the nation that has been unappreciated”. The idea of empowerment is the core of the program—inspiring participants to feel better through physical activity. Exercise has been proven to stimulate endorphins in the brain, which chemically improve one’s mood.  

Through In SHAPE, individuals with mental illnesses are paired with personal mentors to engage in physical activity. With the local YMCA as a partner, participants often work out every day. If a person does not feel motivated to go to the Y, their mentors encourage them to still engage in activity, often coming to their home for a walk. A personal relationship is formed between the participants and their mentors, which allows social well being to develop.

The program’s success has impacted many aspects of participants’ lives. Ken Jue, the creator of the In SHAPE program explains, "As people have become involved in the program and as they begin to improve their physical health, they develop a sense of self-confidence that really frees them up to do some incredible things". Some participants have started jobs, or have pursued education after the program. As a result of such positive ramifications, the program recently was awarded a $10 million grant to expand its services throughout the state. This grant is a significant achievement to help aide the 43,000 individuals in New Hampshire currently living with a serious mental illness. In SHAPE leads the mental health field in recognizing physical activity’s role in treatment. With the rising rates of chronic disease, other types of wellness programs are sure to follow In SHAPE’s example, and consider a more holistic view of health.

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Mental Health, mental wellness, Physical Activity, UNH

UNH’s Health Management and Policy Program

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
By: Ann Steeves

The United States spends 17.6% of our gross domestic product on Health Care— more than any other country in the world. Despite this staggering statistic, we have one of the sickest populations in the world. Does this concern you? Consider majoring in Health Management and Policy. Within the College of Health and Human Services, students may obtain a Bachelor of Science in Health Management and Policy (HMP). HMP graduates remain close to the department, and are often able to provide students with valuable perspectives of life in the health field. Recently, the Department held an Informational Public Health Panel, where Industry professionals told interested students of their roles in various health organizations. Graduates have many opportunities in the expanding field of Health Services—they may become Hospital Administrators, work in Public Health Departments, work for national organizations as health lobbyists, and more. Callie Souza, a junior HMP major in the public health option, explains why she chose to pursue her degree,

“I chose HMP—public health as I am passionate about the health of a population as a whole and recognize the need for more support around issues that are not at the forefront of political and “the average citizen’s” priority list. I also believe public health to be versatile and stable so that I can be confident in my ability to obtain a job and find my niche in the field.”

Callie is not alone in her passion. Most students in the Department seem to share an eagerness to help people by transforming the United States’ current broken Health Care System. The Industry needs help more than ever before. As the Department’s website explains,  “Existing trends, such as the aging population, increasing health care technology, rising costs, and the expansion of managed care, all suggest that the need (for Health Managers) will continue to expand in the years ahead.”

If interested in checking out the major, two recommended introductory courses would be HMP 401: US Healthcare Systems, and HMP 403: Introduction to Public Health. Both courses provide a key foundation in learning more about the field, and are offered each semester. If looking to support the major, consider helping the Department’s Student Organization for Health Leadership (SOHL) by participating in their 5k-trail race. The funds raised will go towards scholarships for HMP students. Registration is $15 and can be found here. The Department hopes to raise awareness of the Health Industry, and the versatile opportunities available after graduation.

Tagged In: Health Care Consumerism, Health Management and Policy, Healthy UNH, UNH

Susan G. Komen Defunds, then Refunds Annual Support for Planned Parenthood

Thursday, February 16, 2012
By: Ann Steeves

With the rising costs of healthcare, many Americans turn to community health centers for important services at affordable prices. One of the nation’s leading centers for women’s health is Planned Parenthood, with nearly 800 health centers nationwide. Their outreach efforts help communities receive access to breast health education, breast screenings, and mammogram referrals, among other services. Their services reach disadvantaged women in underserved areas, often at whatever price the women can afford. As a result, the organization relies heavily on financial donations. Much upset occurred in the past weeks when the Susan B. Komen Foundation, a leading breast-cancer charity, announced their decision to defund grants to Planned Parenthood. Although this was determined in December, it was deferred to public announcement until Tuesday, January 31.

In a press release on the 31st, Planned Parenthood announced their disappointment in the Komen Foundation’s decision, and told of the Foundation’s impact over the past five years in funding, “nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams out of the more than four million clinical breast exams performed nationwide at Planned Parenthood health centers, as well as more than 6,400 mammogram referrals out of 70,000 mammogram referrals,”. They portrayed this decision as the Komen foundation “succumbing to political pressure”. Public support agreed with Planned Parenthood’s accusation, and brought up various Komen leaders’ histories and ties to anti-abortion groups. The issue gained much attention and strong public support for Planned Parenthood, which resulted in the establishment of Planned Parenthood’s Breast Health Emergency Fund. The organization received nearly $3 million in donations for its breast cancer programs in the days following Komen’s announcement. This strong show of support, and outcry from organizational leaders, government officials, and cancer survivors caused the Komen Foundation to rethink their decision—by Friday, February 3rd it was reversed. Nancy G. Brinker, who founded the Komen Foundation after her sister died of breast cancer, released a statement on behalf of the organization, apologizing to the American public for “recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives”.  The Komen Foundation hopes this decision does not stigmatize their organization, or cause their values to be questioned, and they insist that it had nothing to do with politics, or their view of Planned Parenthood’s role in birth control and abortion services. Some of the public may be satisfied with The Komen Foundation’s reversal, but many remain questioning Komen’s morals as an organization supposedly dedicated to health for all women.

Tagged In: Health, Health Care Consumerism, Health Cost, Healthy UNH, UNH Ann Steeves

USDA Announces New Guidelines to Improve School Nutrition

Monday, February 6, 2012
By: Ann Steeves

The days of mystery meat sandwiches should soon be over, and replaced by healthier options throughout our nation’s school lunch program. This past Wednesday, January 25, the USDA, in partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama, announced new guidelines for healthier school meal programs.  This announcement came in coordination with the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, signed in December 2010 by President Obama. According to the USDA press release, the new guidelines will increase offerings of fruits and vegetables in every meal, add more foods containing whole grains, offer only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties, and take more consideration of portion size and amounts of fat and sodium in meals. These are the first standards ever imposed to limit sodium, trans fat and whole grains. The new guidelines will be introduced to schools as early as next school year, and will have a three-year period to be entirely accepted.

These guidelines are a huge victory for nutritionists concerned with today’s diet and the growing number of overweight and obese children. However, some experts argue that they are simply not strong enough to combat current health disparities. Obesity and diabetes in children lead to many health problems later in life and are causing scientists to predict that this may be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents. Doctors with the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine think stricter guidelines, restricting meat and dairy, are necessary to combat childhood obesity. Yet, proponents are satisfied with the guidelines and argue that eliminating meat and dairy altogether may be too drastic and unrealistic to enforce. Most agree that the guidelines will make school meals healthier than ever before. They also give credit back to the Federal government, after Congress’s infamous decision in November to continue to count the tomato sauce of pizza as a vegetable serving. Despite the politics associated with changing school meal programs, the future is optimistic for better nutrition for children across the nation.

Tagged In: Ann Steeves, Health, Healthy UNH, Nutrition, UNH