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Voices for Health Equity

Voices for Health Equity

You can help advance legislation to stem the growth of diabetes and promote healthy options to consumers. Diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death in California and continues to disproportionately impact communities of color. Two legislative proposals are seeking to help make consumers aware of the health problems associated with sugar-sweetened drinks and to promote healthy alternatives. Please send in your letter of support for AB 1357 (Bloom) and SB 203 (Monning).

Letters of support must be received by this Wednesday, April 15th, so please download and send in your letter TODAY.

AB 1357 (Bloom) would require a 2-cents-per-ounce fee on sugary drinks, which would allow the state to invest in communities that are disproportionately impacted by type 2 diabetes and related sugary drink consumption diseases. Download a sample letter of support for AB 1357.

  • Hearing Date: April 21, 1:30 PM, Room 4202
    Assembly Health Committee

SB 203 (Monning) would require a warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. Download a sample letter of support for SB 203.

We all know a healthy school environment is vital for learning. When you consider that between students, teachers, and staff, one in five Californians spend their day at a school, it becomes clear just how important school environments are to the health of families all across the state. Unfortunately, environmental health concerns in California’s classrooms are all too common, especially in low-income communities and communities of color – often the same communities we find the most glaring health inequities in conditions such as asthma. 

Ironically, some of these concerns stem from the very products used to keep the school clean. School children and staff are unnecessarily exposed to chemicals commonly found in traditional cleaning products. These chemicals have been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems, cancer, reproductive and neurological harm, and hormone disruption, as well as environmental concerns such as water pollution, smog, and damage to the ozone layer. 

This week is the 20th anniversary of National Public Health Week (NPHW). Started by the American Public Health Association, the first full week of April each year is "a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation." The advent of social media, particularly Twitter, has added a new dimension to NPHW and has allowed people from across the country to engage in public health discussions. Here's some highlights from Twitter from this year's NPHW:

A few weeks back, we had a great post from California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) on the Child and Adult Care Food Program’s (CACFP) updated nutrition standards. It included a lot of great background information on the program and details about the current update process:

"In 2010, through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, Congress required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update the CACFP meal pattern and better align it with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Under the proposed rule, meals served to children in child care will include a greater variety of vegetables and fruits, more whole grains, and less sugar and fat. This proposal is the first major update of the CACFP meal patterns since the program's inception in 1968. The public has 90 days to comment, with all comments due by April 15, 2015."

Changes to California's criminal justice laws will be the subject of a town hall meeting in Stockton this week. Fathers & Families of San Joaquin (FFSJ) will host a public forum tomorrow, April 9th, to educate the community at-large on recent changes to the state's criminal justice laws and to funding streams created by the passage of California's Proposition 47.

Prop 47, passed by voters in 2014, reduces penalties for six non-serious and nonviolent property and drug crimes by reclassifying them from felonies to misdemeanors. The measure also allows certain offenders who have been previously convicted of such crimes to apply for reduced sentences.

In addition, the measure requires any state savings resulting from Prop 47 to be used to support truancy prevention, victim services, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. By law, 65% of all redirected funds – estimated to be millions of dollars annually – will pass through the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), 25% to the Department of Education, and 10% to victim compensation.

The passage of Prop 47 is very significant for San Joaquin County residents. Many job opportunities are closed to people with felony convictions. Reclassification to misdemeanors will give ex-offenders a better chance to find employment to support themselves and their families.

Proposition 47 will also help create more alternatives to incarceration by shifting funding to education and mental health services. These changes will lead to more people getting the support they need before they get in trouble with the law.

Welcome to Tuesday Tidbits! If you would like your resource/event to be highlighted, please let me know at Thanks!

Violence and community trauma can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing in a neighborhood. In a recent brief we released with the California School-Based Health Alliance, Making the Health Home Model Work for Boys and Men of Color, we highlighted how violence and trauma particularly impacts boys and men of color in California:

“Boys and young men of color in California experience physical and psychological trauma at rates much higher than Whites. Homicide rates for ages 10 to 24 are 79.6 per 100,000 for African American young men compared to only 2.7 per 100,000 for White young men. Exposure to such violence can have a tremendous impact on the mental health of surviving members of the community. Young people can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to increases in impulsive and aggressive behavior, risky sexual behavior, self-harm, and abuse of drugs or alcohol.”

It's one month until the annual ENACT Nutrition and Physical Activity Day, so reserve your spot today! On May 6th at the Sacramento Masonic Temple, join community members and advocates from all over California to learn about and support state policies promoting nutrition and physical activity.

ENACT Day is a terrific free event that empowers community members to take action on the issues impacting health in their communities. The event also gives attendees the resources needed to effectively advocate for policy change and connects them to the policymakers who are capable of making those changes. You can register on our website today!

This video from the Strategic Alliance highlights what you can expect at ENACT Day:

We want everyone who is interested to be able to attend, so a limited number of travel scholarships are available. We encourage you to register early to help us determine the potential need for travel assistance. If you would like to apply for a travel scholarship, you must register by this Wednesday, April 8th, and indicate your interest on the registration form. We will contact you with details.

Below is the full event information. We’d love to see you there!

May 6, 2015 – 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Sacramento Masonic Temple
1123 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Register Now

ENACT Day is FREE, and lunch will be provided. Registration closes April 24th.

ENACT Day is sponsored by these great partner organizations:

Welcome to Friday Facts! Each week we'll be taking a look at a specific chart from the Data & Resources section of our website. This week we're focusing on school safety in Los Angeles County.

We hope that our schools as safe places where children can learn without fear. For the most part, that’s the case. But inequities do exist, and in some communities, children of color are less likely to feel safe at their school than their White counterparts.

As you can see in today’s Friday Facts table, such inequities exist in Los Angeles County. Students of color are less likely to describe their school as “very safe” or “safe” than White students. African American (55.7%) and Latino (56.5%) students were the least likely to consider their school safe, especially compared to 71.4% of White students.

In our fact sheet, Spotlight on Children’s Health: Los Angeles County, we discussed the correlation between school safety and academic achievement. We noted that students who feel safe at school (87%) are much more likely to consider attending college compared to those who do not feel safe (69%). We also highlighted the connection between school safety and drop-out rates and how dropping out of school impacts a student’s future employment potential.

The same fact sheet included the following recommendations to increase school safety in the county:

We need your support to ensure consumers are informed about their health insurance benefits and know what doctors and hospitals are in their networks. Urge the Senate Committee on Health to pass legislation requiring translation of a health plan's summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) and ensuring provider directories are accurate and up-to-date. Please send in your letter of support for SB 388 (Mitchell) and SB 137 (Hernandez)

Letters of support must be received by Wednesday, April 8th, so download and send in your letters TODAY.

SB 388 (Mitchell) requires a health insurance plan’s SBC to be translated into non-English languages consistent with California’s existing language access requirements for other vital documents and would require the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance to make available translated templates of the SBC on their websites. Download a sample letter of support for SB 388.

SB 137 (Hernandez) creates standards for provider directories and requires regular updates so that they include accurate information about which doctors and hospitals are in a patient's network and the languages spoken when shopping for coverage or seeking care. CPEHN is co-sponsoring this legislation with Consumers Union and Health Access. Download a sample letter of support for SB 137.

California has made strides in reducing tobacco use over the past two decades. So much so, that its overall smoking rate of 15% is second only to Utah’s 12.2% for the lowest in the United States. This is a great feat for a state that is by far the most populous in the country. 

In 1990, the California Department of Public Health started the California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP) to prevent children from starting to smoke, help smokers quit, and create tobacco free environments. Over the last 25 years, the CTCP has helped save over 1 million lives and over $86 billion in health care costs

Another key component of California’s tobacco prevention efforts is the Tobacco Education Research Oversight Committee (TEROC), which oversees the use of tobacco tax revenues for tobacco prevention activities and research. This week, TEROC released its latest master plan, Changing Landscape, Countering New Threats 2015 -2017. While this document acknowledges California’s successes in reducing tobacco use, it also highlights five key threats that the state will need to address in the coming years: