Face to Face: Battling Hunger in Germantown

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It’s a typical Monday afternoon in Germantown. Young children are being released from school, so they can run home and turn on the television (or do homework). High school students from Central High School and the Philadelphia High School for Girls are racing to the bus stop or subway to get home, as well. For some residents of the Germantown area, they do not have a home or healthy food to eat, as most of these students do. That’s why there are many food pantries and churches involved in the Exploring Nutrition project, which helps deliver food to the unfortunate, who may not be able to consistently afford healthy food. One of these places is Face to Face.

Located at 109 E. Price Street in the Germantown section of North Philadelphia, Face to Face offers citizens of the area special services that they may not have themselves. The church-looking building is popular among the locals, who frequent the venue almost every day, even though the workers only serve meals Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday of each week. Besides providing the locals with food, Face to Face also has a health center, legal center, a social services center and a “Washeteria” section where people can take showers and receive a new pair of clothes. It also has After School programs for children living in the area, as well as a children’s summer camp. Face to Face does its best to help the people who need the most help in their area.

The aforementioned food pantry started out in 1985 as a soup kitchen, but over the years it developed into a multi-faceted organization. According to their website, the pantry serves more than 2,500 individuals each year. One of the cooks, Alternon, claims in the video shown below that he cooks for around 300 people every Sunday, as that is the day where most of the needy come to get a fresh meal.

The Germantown area needs many of these food pantries, due to the fact that the area is not one of the most healthy areas in Philadelphia. Germantown is one of the most poor sections of the city, so serving food to the locals four days a week is a big help. Face to Face’s website notes that about 26% of citizens living in this area live in deep poverty, which is the equivalent of making $5,400 a year per person. It is not easy for a person only making around $5,000 a year to be able to afford consistent food and attempt to live on their own. Face to Face recognizes this and lends them a hand with their excellent services.

A few experts in the field of nutrition from La Salle University weighed in on their opinions on hunger in the Germantown area. Tom Wingert, one of the heads of the Exploring Nutrition project, claimed that the organizations are doing a good job.

“You have a lot of organizations that try to feed hungry people,” he said.

Dr. Edie Goldbacher, assistant professor of Psychology at La Salle and supervisor of the Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight clinic, deals with weight and obesity. She noted that genetics and the environment both play a role in a person becoming obese.

“Genetics loads the gun, the environment pulls the trigger,” is what Goldbacher said, meaning that a person’s genes are the onset of obesity, but the environment which they live in is the factor that pushes them to become obese, due to the unhealthy food choices or lack of healthy food choices in that person’s area.

Professor Jule Anne Henstenburg, director of the Nutrition Program at La Salle, gave her two cents on the hunger issue by classifying the top three hungriest groups in America. Children, women and senior citizens were who Henstenburg claimed as being the hungriest people in our country. She also discussed the fact that the government not supplying poor citizens with enough SNAP benefits to eat healthy food is another problem.

The fight to cure hunger in Germantown looks to be a tough battle to fight, but organizations like Face to Face supply enough help that a good percentage of the locals get what they need. There will always be hunger in the world, that is for sure. But, with the help of food pantries and initiatives such as the Exploring Nutrition project, hunger will be a little less prevalent.

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“Children, seniors and women are the most hungry,” says La Salle Nutrition Professor

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Professor Henstenberg gave some healthy eating tips to journalism students

 

Food desert,” “food security” and “food insecurity” were terms that Professor Jule Anne Henstenberg spoke about when she visited an online journalism class on April 17. Henstenberg is the Director of the Nutrition Program at La Salle University. She claimed that she has been studying nutrition for at least 35 years.

“I found the passion in high school because I was reading a lot about vegetarianism,” she said. Henstenberg also studies disease prevention and public health education.

Henstenberg defined a food desert as “an area without fresh produce options.” She claimed that the area around La Salle was a food desert before the Fresh Grocer supermarket was opened. Prof. Henstenberg described food security as having the physical and economic resources to access food. Food insecurity, on the other hand, is not having either of these resources.

Urging the students to start cooking their food instead of eating fast food or snacks from the corner store was another topic that Henstenberg addressed. She gave three main reasons why people do not eat healthy. No money, no cooking skills and no time were what Henstenberg credited to unhealthy eating.

Henstenberg gave another list of three, this one being the top three groups of hungry people in the world. Children, senior citizens and women were who Henstenberg claimed to be at the top of the hungry list.

At the end of the day, Professor Henstenberg has one main goal through the work that she does.

“Part of my goal here is to make access easier,” she said. Access to healthy food is a big problem in the Germantown area, so Henstenberg is in the right location in order to achieve her goal.

La Salle Psychology Professor Discusses Health Issues

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Dr. Edie Goldbacher spoke to a journalism class about healthy eating and obesity.

 

Dr. Edie Goldbacher, Assistant Professor of Psychology at La Salle University, talked last Thursday about healthy eating. She specializes in eating behavior, weight, and people who have weight or eating problems. Goldbacher also supervises a clinic at La Salle- The Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight Clinic, located on West Campus.

Dr. Goldbacher gave a PowerPoint presentation on such topics as the causes of obesity, such as environmental and behavioral factors. She noted that such environmental factors as availability of food, cost of food and the advertising of food products are all strong forces that could cause people to become obese. Mindless eating and ineffective eating patterns were the two behavioral factors that she claimed can cause obesity. “Genetics loads the gun, the environment pulls the trigger,”  is what Goldbacher credited as the main cause of obesity, meaning genes have a role in the onset of obesity, but a person’s environment is the real factor.

The Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight Clinic was the next topic of Goldbacher’s discussion. Mostly every worker at this clinic is a student-in-training, whom are supervised by Goldbacher.

“We’re really providing an important service to members of the community,”  she claimed. The clinic only serves members of the Germantown community, who are mostly middle-aged African-American women, according to Goldbacher.

The marketing of the clinic is an issue that the University of Pittsburgh alum addressed.

“We could use some help with that. A lot of times it’s word of mouth.”

Goldbacher also brought up the fact that obesity has increased since the 1990s. She also noted that weight bias/discrimination has increased by about 60% over the past decade.

“A lot of people can lose weight, but it’s hard to keep that weight off,” is what she noted towards the end of her discussion.

Supervising the clinic at La Salle and teaching her students is what Goldbacher is passionate about. Hopefully, she can help change the eating habits of some of the local community members.

Related articles about obesity: New York Times and USA Today.

Obama Administration Calling for New Nutrition Labels

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Have you ever wished that the nutrition labels on the food that you eat were more clear? Well, you may be in luck. The Obama Administration, primarily the first lady Michelle Obama, is striving to make nutrition labels more easy to understand.

According to a politico.com article, the proposed changes will mean that the calories on cans or boxes of food will be displayed more visibly for eaters to see. Certain nutrients may also be dropped from the list of vitamins and minerals with daily value percentages.

Another possibly important change would be the serving size information. Many food items have serving sizes which are inaccurate of what normal people actually eat. The proposed change would update the serving size information to make eaters more understandable of how many calories they are actually eating.

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, notes that updating the serving sizes would help eaters.

“A lot of foods that common sense dictates are a single serving size, like certain snacks and beverages, are listed as multiple servings.” Wootan wants labels to say one serving, “so people know what they’re eating.”

Even though many say this is a good idea, Regina Hildwine, senior director of science policy and labeling and standards at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, says it may effect the Food and Drug Administration’s expenses.

“Everyone in the industry is going to be effected. Everyone is going to have to change their labels,” she said. “It’s a very big deal. Its very expensive.”

This proposed change to the nutrition labels seems like a very good idea, but people always have differing opinions on a controversial topic like this. Time will only tell what the outcome is in this matter, though.

Obama Signs $956 Billion Farm Bill

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On Friday at Michigan State University, President Obama signed the farm bill. The bill is slated to be for a whopping $956 billion.

According to an article by Daniel Sheehan of the Allentown Morning Call, this bill will trim $8 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP. $8 billion seems like chump change compared to the $40 billion over 10 years that some Republicans had called for.

Sheehan’s article notes that the Lehigh Valley will be hit very hard by this new bill. Two Lehigh Valley Congressman, Republican Charlie Dent and Democrat Matt Cartwright, have conflicting views on how the bill will affect their areas.  Dent voted yes, while Cartwright voted no.

“I did not come to Congress to kick the most vulnerable Americans off of food assistance,” said Cartwright on his Facebook page.

Dent gave a positive outlook towards the bill, saying that “states will no longer be able to ‘game’ the system by linking the Low Income Heating Assistance Program to eligibility for food stamps.”

In his article titled “Big Farm-a Gets a Raise in 2014 Farm Bill,” Willy Blackmore of takepart.com speaks more about this.

“The new cuts will hit hardest in the states that give poor people a nominal subsidy to heat their homes that automatically qualifies them for additional SNAP benefits.”

The bill will be in effect for the next five years. Many people seem to be skeptical about it, but only time will tell.

Urban Food: Germantown

Philadelphia is a city that is well-known for its food. There’s no better example of that than in the Germantown section of North Philadelphia, primarily around La Salle University. I hit the streets of Germantown to snap some pictures of the popular eateries for the locals.

Explorers Den, located on the corner of Chew and Olney Avenues, is a popular spot for the students of La Salle who are in the mood for a late-night snack or something better tasting than the dining halls.

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Right down the block from Explorers Den lies Happy Fortune, known for their delicious Chinese food. This spot is located on the corner of Elkins and Olney Avenues and is also frequently visited by La Salle students.

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A very well-known company has just recently moved into the Germantown area. I’m talking of course about the Philly Pretzel Factory recently built on the corner of Broad and Olney. This establishment sells pretzels in all different types, such as pizza pretzels, pretzel sausages and my personal favorite, the pretzel hot dog.

Pretzel Factory 2

Then there’s Bizinis, a small restaurant on the corner of Lindley and Ogontz Avenues. It is attractive to La Salle students who live on South Campus, primarily in St. Neumann Hall or St. Basil Court. This low key spot is best known for its seafood.

Bizinis

That was a quick peek at some of the food establishments in the Germantown area. There are plenty of other spots to hit when you want a quick meal for a cheap price. Just take a stroll down Olney Avenue and you will sure be able to find a suitable place to fill up.

Tom Wingert: Hunger Fighter

Tom Wingert, who is a recent graduate of La Salle University, has been making it his job to feed hungry people in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Wingert claimed that this area of Philadelphia didn’t have enough produce, so he took matters into his own hands.

In the fall, he and Marjorie Allen, the Chair of the Integrative Studies Department at La Salle, teamed up to start “Exploring Nutrition,” which helped feed more than 2,000 people in the area. The project also raised more than $5,000 in contributions and fundraisers.

Wingert works with students at La Salle to help with certain projects like these.

Tom Wingert talks with journalism students at La Salle University

Tom Wingert talks with journalism students at La Salle University

“My job is to connect students to the stuff that I’m working on,” he said.

Even though Wingert enjoys working with students at La Salle to fight hunger, he says that he will be moving onto a new organization, Unite Good. Wingert also writes in the Impact section of the Huffington Post. He gave a very blunt answer to why he is moving on to Unite Good.

“I don’t get paid enough,” he claimed during his guest talk at an online journalism class last Thursday. He also added that “it’s a lot easier to get stuff done with 3 employers.”

Wingert did give some praise to the organizations in the area that help fight hunger.

“You have a lot of organizations that feed hungry people,” he said. “Germantown has a very well-developed citizen sector.”