WEEK 11: News story recap

AUDIENCE:
Readers of Our State magazine and web site
SOURCES

  1. Representative Doug Yongue
  2. Senator William Purcell
  3. Western Wake Farmers Market’s Jennifer Gibbs
  4. Leaflight’s Robert Andrew Smith
  5. Columbus County Farmers Market: Irvin W. Brown, President of the Columbus County Farmers Market, (910) 840-6743
  6. NC State Farmers Market Director
  7. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services
  8. Maria Spaulding, NC DHHS
  9. Jeffrey Engel, NC State Health Director
  10. Jennifer MacDougall, BCBSNC Foundation
  11. Emily Jackson, Appalachian Sustainable Food Project
  12. Laurey Masterton, Laurey’s Catering. Spoke to 1:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. Will call back after clients leave
  13. Penny Gordon-Larsen, UNC. Left vm and emailed Friday
  14. Dr. Sarah Armstrong, Duke
  15. Dr. David Collier, ECU’s Brody School of Medicine
  16. Melody Barnes’s office, Let’s Move
  17. Rep. David Price
  18. Senator Kay Hagan
  19. Senator Richard Burr

QUESTIONS

  1. What farmers markets do accept EBT (SNAP) cards?
  2. When did Western Wake Farmers Market start accepting debit cards?
  3. What was the impetus? Why?
  4. Who started this program?
  5. Why?
  6. What is the Western Wake Farmers Market debit / EBT program?
  7. How does it work?
  8. What is the benefit for farmers? Consumers? What do you hope will be the result of this program?
  9. Did you know about NC’s childhood obesity epidemic? How do you think your program impacts childhood obesity?
  10. Do you have a personal story or family member with a story who has been affected by childhood obesity? How has childhood obesity touched your life?

FACTS CHECKED

  1. Name spellings
  2. Farm names
  3. Multiple obesity and childhood obesity statistics
  4. Proper spelling of programs
  5. Task Force on Childhood Obesity final report to refer to legislative recommendations and reasoning for the recommendations

POSSIBLE ONLINE EXTRAS
I would like to go back and add to this story:

  1. Google map plotting where farmers markets and Farm to School programs exist in NC
  2. Interactive NC map showing the rates of childhood obesity for each county
  3. Pictures
  4. FAQs on the farmers markets’ EBT program and Farm to School. Specifically, explain step-by-step how the EBT program works including credit card or EBT exchange for wooden tokens, how vendors receive payment
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WEEK 11: News story

COMMUNITY PROGRAMS COMBAT CHILDHOOD OBESITY
Farmers Markets and Farm to School connect kids to food

By Susan Milliken
RALEIGH—North Carolina joined a new top 10 list this year. The Tarheel state moved from 12th to 10th on the roster of the 10 fattest states in the world’s fattest country.

In North Carolina, one in three adults is obese. More than 33% of children are overweight or obese. And fifteen percent of children aged 2-4 are considered obese.

North Carolina has the fifth highest rate of childhood obesity in the country.

The Academy of Pediatrics describes the rise in childhood obesity as an “unprecedented burden” on children’s health.

Obese children become obese adults
Studies show that up to 90% of obese children become obese adults.

New research shows nearly 40 percent of obese teenagers are bound to become severely obese adults.

“Obesity gets worse from teen to adulthood,” said Dr. Sarah Armstrong, a pediatrician at Duke University. “We knew that intuitively, but it’s the first to show how severe it can be.”

Armstrong is referring to a UNC study in which researchers followed 9,000 teenagers for 13 years. Teens who began the study obese were 16 times more likely than their peers to become severely obese by age 30, said Penny Gordon-Larsen, senior author of the study and associate professor at UNC’s School of Public Health.

Childhood obesity leads to health problems
Children may experience health problems before they reach adulthood. Obese children have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Those who escape health problems in childhood will face one or more chronic conditions in adulthood.

Overweight and obese adults face one or more of the following throughout their lifetime: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis and sleep apnea.

Childhood obesity exacts human and economic costs on North Carolina.

Despite medical advances, child life expectancy may be declining, due in part to an increase in weight.

The cost of obesity to North Carolina is nearly $16 billion, while childhood obesity accounts for more than $105 million of this figure.

To save money and improve children’s health conditions, the legislative Task Force on Childhood Obesity this year made several recommendations to combat childhood obesity in North Carolina.

Recommendations from the task force include diverting federal funds to school nutrition programs, increasing physical activity in public schools and updating nutritional standards for students.

Two of the task force’s recommendations may gain non-partisan support, as they bypass government mandates and focus on community programs.

Expanding farmers markets’ capacity to accept Food Stamps
Currently, farmers markets in 12 counties in North Carolina accept EBT cards, which are the identification cards for the federal Food Stamps / SNAP program.

At the Western Wake Farmers Market, revenues have increased overall since implementing EBT usage.

“There is a 2% commission coming out of the amount paid to our farmers,” said Jennifer Gibbs, board member of the Western Wake Farmers Market. “However, our farmers are making more sales in general, so they’re happy.”

The Western Wake Farmers Market (WWFM) started its EBT program in June and is the first Wake County farmers market to do so.

Part of the market’s mission is to serve the underserved and to create access and education for those who can’t always afford local foods. That includes kids.

“Our education often focuses on fun things for kids to do at the farmers market,” said Gibbs. “In terms of childhood obesity, we feel like we’re one part of the mix.”

Increasing Farm to School programs proposed by state officials
The legislative task force recommends increasing capacity of the state’s Farm to School program by hiring someone to oversee the 67 different programs and increasing the efficacy of each.

Farm to School programs include any or all of four main components:

  1. farm field trips
  2. school gardens
  3. cooking in the classroom
  4. locally grown foods in school cafeterias

Farm to School’s focus is education. The goal of the program is to rebuild children’s connections to their food.

“We became obese when we no longer knew where our food came from,” said Emily Jackson, Director of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP). Jackson’s program oversees the national Farm to School program in the southeastern states.

Jackson muses if a child “grew it, knows who grew it or helped prepare it, they’ll want to eat it.”

Farm to School facilitates hands-on experiences for children. Its goal is to affect attitudes, behaviors and lifestyles, which Jackson says is culprit behind childhood obesity.

Do Food Stamps and Farm to School programs work?
Jackson says the Centers for Disease Control has suggested an effective community strategy to address childhood obesity should include Farm to School and Food Stamps programs.

The problem is accelerating so fast however, according to Jackson, that evidence-based research and longitudinal studies can’t keep pace with rising rates of childhood obesity.

“This is a huge public health epidemic and it’s going to take all different programs,” said Robert Andrew Smith of LeafLight. “Because of all of the things wrapped into the farmers market, in many ways, it can be a springboard for people to do nutrition education, to give kids the exposure to healthy food.”

Smith started the LeafLight program in 2001, after working in food security for 10 years.

Smith’s organization provides the infrastructure for farmers markets to accept EBT and debit cards, without incurring startup and staffing costs.

LeafLight grew out of a conversation between Smith and the Carrboro Farmers Market manager in 2004. The manager wanted to equip the farmers market to accept food stamps. Smith had been exploring how to implement debit card usage at farmers markets.

Today, LeafLight provides infrastructure for EBT usage at 15 farmers markets with plans to expand to 26 in the next year. However, Smith doesn’t view farmers markets as a silver bullet to ending childhood obesity.

“It goes beyond the farmers market,” said Smith. “It goes to Farm to Schools, the availability of healthy food in supermarkets, even physical activity, vending machines. What I’m saying is the access to farmers markets is it may be the first exposure children may get to healthy foods.”

An okra anecdote
Jackson has seen firsthand the impact Farm to School can have on families. She shared one of her favorite stories.

“We took some kindergarteners and first-graders from Isaac Dickson Elementary to Flying Cloud Farm and Hickory Nut Gap Farm. We wanted them to study what was grown locally, tasting as we went along.

We came across this field where some okra was growing. The okra was tall, the children were small. The kids asked if we could eat the okra. They were so transfixed by the tall, beautiful plant. So the kids started eating all this okra.

The chef we brought along on the trip wanted to see what the kids got excited about.

So the next day, our chef had lots of okra prepared—pickled okra, fried okra. The children ate every bit of it—and clambered for more.

One parent wrote the restaurant chef and shared that her child had come home excited about okra. The parent went out and bought okra and prepared it at home. The parent shared that she and her child ate every bit of the okra, which was a first for the child and a first for the parent.”

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WEEK 10: Twitter recap

Here are my pros and cons of live tweeting this week:

Pros

  • Immediate and exciting
  • Like live blogging, tweeting lessens anxiety, as you don’t have time to edit
  • Short!

Cons

  • This was difficult to start. My first few tweets felt awkward. What to say?
  • Consider the venue. Tapping on an iPhone at a home brewed beer tasting in cramped quarters feels obnoxious. I’m sure it looked obnoxious too.

Lessons learned

  • Don’t forget to disable your Twitter-to-Facebook link, if you have one. I disabled the Twitter app from within FB. However, I forgot to disable this linkage from within my Twitter account. Therefore, I filled friends’ FB feeds with noise.
  • Be sure to spellcheck. I made several typos that I could have avoided.

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WEEK 10: Wikipedia entry

Urban chickens

I updated the Urban Chickens entry within Wikipedia. This assignment sounded simple enough at first. However, updating the wiki entry brought up a lot of lessons learned in class so far.

Identify yourself. We learned this last week with our blog assignments. Readers expect a degree of bias with blogs. But identifying yourself, your beliefs and your affiliations increases your credibility. Wiki police threatened to delete my entry if I didn’t sign my edits, which I didn’t know how to do at first. The links in the wiki warning I got were super helpful. FYI, you sign your name by using ~~~~.

Be fair and present the facts. I got dinged by the wiki police for appearing to present a particular POV. So I edited my tone and language and deleted soft words like “relatively” and “often”. I also deleted an external link to the Urban Chickens Network, because the link made it appear I was promoting this external site. I also added “Urban chickens or backyard chickens” to diversify the language used, so as not to promote the urban chickens site.

The entry was lean with not more than 5 sections and 10 lines of text to start. So another edit I made to this entry was the addition of the Concerns section. I’d like to go back and add a Benefits section to balance Concerns. I wonder if that will escape the wiki police.

Update: So I logged into wiki @ 1611 hrs Sunday afternoon to find my new section had been deleted. Crowdsourcing, bah! I’ve discovered the history section and can recover my content. Off to revise…

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WEEK 10: Wireless Access Points in Chapel Hill

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Liveblogging links

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Reflections on liveblogging

I was anticipating hearing David Goggins speak all week, or at least for the three days since I’d read about the event in The Independent. A friend loaned me Born to Run this summer, and I’ve been fascinated by barefoot and ultra running ever since.

So I was excited to be sitting in BN Duke auditorium, holding a notepad, watching students filter in.

Leaving BN Duke Auditorium afterward though, all I could think about was how much information I didn’t capture. Liveblogging is vexing.

Goggins gave so many numbers: 100-mile this, 150-mile that, 44 hours this, 18 hours that. I felt like I needed to capture everything that was coming out of Goggins’s mouth. This liveblogging assignment was a real challenge. It felt like taking the SAT for the first time. After you have your first test under your belt, you know what to expect. But this first time was frustrating.

I’d like to try liveblogging again and take use the lessons I learned from this assignment:

  • Bring a wireless device or smartphone. There was no wi-fi in BN Duke auditorium. After writing 20 pgs of steno pad notes, frankly, I didn’t feel like posting them online when I got home. It felt like double work. It would have been better to write once and make the blog posts immediately.
  • Focus less on numbers, more on meat. In retrospect, I could have looked up Goggins’s race results after his speaking engagement. I would have liked to look at Goggins more, while he was speaking, see his facial expressions as he told his stories. Taking notes and listening at the same time is tough.
  • On that note, I could have written shorter posts. Liveblogging does not equal transcribing. Less is more. Less is more.
  • Bring a camera.
  • Identify my audience. I was so excited about hearing Goggins speak, I didn’t think about who would be reading my blog. I could have created more succinct posts, had I thought specifically about my audience and what they would want to know about Goggins.

One other note:

I had to try hard not to edit my posts. No cheating. I wanted my liveblog to be as live as possible and as close as could be the notes I took at the event. This is difficult. It was a real challenge to type in my posts as roughly as I’d written my notes and resist the urge to clean up or embellish the copy.

For future liveblogging, I’d like to try a festival or conference. David Goggins was fascinating and told vivid stories. There was room for Q&A and interaction at the end of the event. Now that I have covered an event that was in one venue with one speaker, I’d like to contrast that experience with one that has multiple venues, perhaps covers more time and includes more than one person as the draw.

Overall, this liveblogging assignment was a learning experience.

I learned how liveblogging differs from blogging in general. You have to make snap decisions on what to post, which means you should have a really good idea of who your audience is before you even start. Over time, I’d hope my news judgment would improve with making these snap decisions.

This assignment was also an exercise in letting go of anxiety. This assignment was about the process and not the content according to our syllabus and discussions. However, I still felt some anxiety about the roughness of my posts.

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