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Senior Produce Program to cease operations after 10 years

The Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s food bank, announced its decade-old Senior Produce Program has ended.

The program for low-income elderly residents served 1,515 people from June to October 2016, with 22,725 bags of locally grown, fresh produce.

Fruits and vegetables were treasured by recipients and became a stable source of income for area farmers. The Food Basket bought produce, such as grade-A mushrooms, tomatoes and bananas.

“For the seniors, their health depends on fresh fruits and vegetables — because that’s where their nutrition comes from,” said Tamara Watson of Hawaiian Paradise Park, who stopped Tuesday to get food at the Pahoa Senior Center, where volunteers filled bags with staples such as bread, noodles and soup.

Fruit juice cans and canned fruit were included. But no fresh produce.

Senior produce coordinator Claudia Wilcox-Boucher said the decision was difficult for The Food Basket, but financially necessary.

Executive Director En Young said federal funds offered to service groups through the state are competitively sought, and organizations must bid to access the funds. Officials intended to offer produce to more senior citizens throughout the state by opening up the federal funds to all four of the state’s counties instead of only Hawaii and Honolulu, as in past years, Young said, but with no increase in appropriations. That would mean the same amount as in previous years would be available, but being offered to a wider population.

The dollar amount available in Hawaii County this year is $50 per senior citizen for the 15-week summer period instead of $150. Administrative funds also decreased by $10,000 for the program, Young said.

The Food Basket already operated the program at a loss because administrative funds didn’t cover delivery costs. The decision was made to discontinue the program because it no longer was financially feasible.

“We’re working frantically to bring in other programs and funds that can provide comparable benefit to make sure we can continue to provide coverage for struggling seniors islandwide,” Young said in The Food Basket’s announcement.

Lisa and Scott Newcomb of Kurtistown were disappointed.

“It means we won’t get to eat fresh fruit,” said Lisa Newcomb, a vegetarian. Scott Newcomb said he eats a little chicken but also relies on fruits and vegetables. They’ll stick more to canned food than they would prefer.

Scott Newcomb said his income comes from Social Security disability benefits.

“I paid for that. I worked 27 years,” he said. But it’s not enough to cover all of the couple’s basic needs.

Another program will offer supplemental food this summer with USDA funding The Food Basket was able to access. But its focus is nonperishable foods.

Watson said the Senior Produce Program “means a lot to me because, with limited income, the vegetables and fruits are the most expensive foods. So I kind of rely on the healthy part of my diet coming from the produce program.”

“It’s sad … ,” said Devon Leonard of Pahoa. “I’ll really miss it. I looked forward to it for the last three years.”

The produce supplemented her diet well, she said. She’ll miss the tomatoes (her favorite), mushrooms, peppers and onions.

“For a lot of seniors, it will mean eating less good, healthy food,” Leonard said.

“Summer’s coming,” said Leonard’s daughter-in-law, Emefa Dokonor. “Something so special can mean so much.”

“There’s going to be a lot of sad seniors and a lot of disappointed seniors and a lot of disappointed farmers,” Wilcox-Boucher said.

Young said The Food Basket is working with current donors to shift some dollars from other programs and figured out how to continue offering produce to about 1,000 to 1,200 of the affected senior citizens. But 300 to 500 seniors will be without produce, and it would take a donation of about $185,000 to $195,000 to continue offering the full program to all 1,515 served last year.

For those who qualify for SNAP/EBT, The Food Basket’s Ho‘olaha Ka Hua community-supported agriculture program will continue. A box of produce is $12 a week. Those who don’t qualify for SNAP/EBT can buy the boxes for $16 a week.

To sign up or ask questions, call 933-6030.

Email Jeff Hansel at [email protected]

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Woman Who Had Insane 8-Week Transformation Shares Easy Trick To Still Eat Pizza

Most people probably wouldn’t characterize weight-loss programs as lenient.

No, the words that usually come to mind are more along the lines of “difficult,” “impossible” and “I need a cheeseburger now, or else I will die.”

Caitlin Rose, on the other hand, had the privilege of enjoying pizza, wine and burgers during her eight-week program.


Rose, 27, knew she wanted to start losing weight after she managed to rip two pairs of jeans in the span of one week. At the time, she weighed in at about 163 pounds.

After dumping her jeans in the trash, Rose — who works as an executive assistant in Sydney, Australia — signed up for something called RAW by Varlah, which offers a myriad of fitness programs, all designed to cater to various ages, fitness levels and interests.

The program costs $69.95 for unlimited workouts and a nutrition plan. It also incorporates weight lifting into its on-demand exercise classes.

Programs help blunt Memphis’ diabetes epidemic

Construction worker Sanford Miller rarely ate a midday meal that didn’t include a fast-food burger and fries because, as he says, “that’s what you did for lunch.”

Not any more.

With his weight, cholesterol and blood-sugar levels surging, Miller, 56, decided to make a change. He and his wife Lisa joined a diabetes-prevention class at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital and began taking walks and eating a more healthful diet. The Memphis native and Olive Branch resident not only shed nearly 30 pounds, but lowered his blood-sugar levels from the pre-diabetes range to normal.

Much like Miller, Michelle Norman says she was “absolutely” destined for diabetes, what with her family history and struggles to manage weight. But that was before she became an exercise devotee, bicycling up to 150 miles at a time and leading a regular Zumba class. Although still considered pre-diabetic, the 49-year-old Whitehaven resident has reversed the steady increase in her glucose levels, which now are dropping toward the normal range.

Miller and Norman are among a growing number of people across Greater Memphis and Tennessee who are eluding one of the region’s most widespread and devastating health problems — diabetes — without prescription drugs. Under the National Diabetes Prevention Program, local hospitals and healthcare providers are targeting pre-diabetic residents for intervention efforts focused mostly on diet, exercise and behavioral changes.

There are early, but tantalizing signs that the effort is helping blunt what area health officials have described as an epidemic. The number of new diabetes cases diagnosed in Shelby County fell nearly 19 percent, from a peak of 7,918 in 2008 to 6,439 in 2013, the most recent year for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has statistics.

Other urban counties in Tennessee have experienced similar drops. In Davidson County, new cases fell from a high of 5,201 in 2007 to 4,032 in 2013, while Knox County experienced a decline from 3,964 to 2,642 during the same period.

Not even those declines, however, change the fact that Type 2 or “adult” diabetes remains a major scourge. Greater Memphis, along with most of Tennessee, lies within what the CDC calls the “diabetes belt,” a 644-county region stretching from eastern Texas to West Virginia and the Carolinas in which 11 percent or more of the adult population has been diagnosed with the disease.

In Shelby County alone, more than 82,000 people, or 12.2 percent of the adult population, had diabetes in 2013, according to CDC data. Although that figure represents a leveling-off from the previous two years, it’s significantly higher than  2004, when fewer than 60,000 residents, 9.4 percent of the adult population, had the disease. In Davidson and Knox counties, the percentage of adults with diabetes in 2013 was 10.6 and 11.2, respectively.

Characterized by an excess of glucose in the blood, diabetes is an incurable disease that can lead to nerve damage, blindness, kidney disease, heart trouble and death. It kills nearly 250 people in Shelby County each year.

The disease also presents a crushing cost burden. People diagnosed with diabetes at age 50 will spend up to $135,600 more in lifetime medical costs than those without it, according to a 2014 study. Nationally, the disease produces an annual $245 billion drain on the economy, including $5.8 billion in Tennessee.

But while it may not be curable, diabetes is clearly preventable, even among those who are especially at-risk because their blood-sugar levels have reached the pre-diabetic stage.

Dr. Sam Dagogo-Jack, professor of medicine and chief of the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, helped lead a major study showing that lifestyle and diet changes can reduce by up to 58 percent the occurrence of diabetes among people who are pre-diabetic. Lifestyle and diet, the study showed, was almost twice as effective as medication in preventing the transition from pre-diabetes to diabetes.

“We can prevent the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes, and even sweeter still, we can observe remission from pre-diabetes back to normal glucose levels,” Dagogo-Jack told The Commercial Appeal in a 2015 interview.

While 29.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease, 86 million others have pre-diabetes. Because it typically takes five to 10 years for pre-diabetes to turn into to diabetes, special attention should be focused on that latter group, Dagogo-Jack said.

“Very few diseases give you that much of a window of opportunity for intervention.”

People at-risk for diabetes include those who are obese, overweight and sedentary, or have a family history of the disease. Also, certain ethnic groups, including African-Americans, are more predisposed to diabetes.

Jennifer Reed, diabetes program manager at the Baptist Medical Group Outpatient Care Center, said just the loss of 5-10 percent of body weight can have a “tremendous effect” on blood-sugar levels. She cites sugary drinks, particularly that Southern favorite, sweet tea, as a good place to start cutting back.

Kristy Merritt, diabetes education coordinator, Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown, instructs at-risk people how to eat healthier, become more active and manage their stress. She said that among a recent class of nine participants, the average weight loss was 7.65 percent, and, by the end of the program, all had reduced blood-sugar levels to the point they were no longer pre-diabetic.

At Church Health, at-risk patients are assigned health coaches help them become more active and improve their diets and behavior. It’s led to significant reductions in blood-sugar levels, said Dr. Scott Morris, CEO, and the effort should become even more successful with the organization’s imminent move to Crosstown Concourse, where the Church Health YMCA is opening.

Preventing diabetes has become a major focus of private-practice physicians in the city. Patients of Dr. Beverly Williams-Cleaves benefit from the workout room and learning kitchen at her practice on Lamar. “Between the exercise and nutrition, I have several (pre-diabetic patients) who have totally corrected” their blood-sugar levels, she said.

David Sweat, chief of epidemiology for the Shelby County Health Department, said the key to controlling diabetes is reducing the area’s high rate of obesity. There are some hopeful signs in that regard, as well. CDC figures show a slight dip in the county’s obesity rate, from 34.7 percent in 2011 to 32.3 percent two years later.

Sweat said the recent addition of walking and bicycling trails is having an effect.

“It’s very heartening. If you’re out on the (Shelby Farms) Greenline, or at Shelby Farms, you see a lot of people walking, biking and hiking,” he said.

Reach Tom Charlier by email at [email protected], by phone at (901) 529-2572, or on Twitter at @thomasrcharlier.


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Everything You Want to Know About the Diet Adele’s Trainer Uses with All of His Clients

Ever since Adele came out with her Grammy Award-winning 25, she’s been on a major health kick. The singer says she ditched cigarettes and now works out regularly with her trainer, who puts all of his clients (which, in addition to Adele, include Pippa Middleton and Kim Cattrall) on The Sirtfood Diet.

The diet book, which launches in the U.S. March 7, focuses on Sirtfoods — a “newly discovered group of wonderfoods” that are in common, everyday items like kale, cocoa, strawberries, coffee and more.

FROM COINAGE: Try This Healthy, Cheap Late-Night Snack

“Sirtfoods are a newly discovered group of wonder foods that contain special plant nutrients known as polyphenols that activate a powerful recycling process in the body which clears out cellular waste and burns fat,” the program’s creators, Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten, explain. “They do this by activating our sirtuin genes — also known as our ‘skinny’ genes. Indeed, these are the very same genes that are activated by fasting and exercise.”

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Goggins and Matten searched for foods with the highest levels of polyphenols to formulate a diet plan that Adele’s trainer, Pete Geracimo, says “isn’t really a diet.”

“Whenever I talk nutrition with my clients, if they’re trying to lose weight, I always tell them to look at these Sirtfoods,” he told PEOPLE. “You lose weight without losing muscle. It takes it to the next level.”

The Sirtfood Diet
Courtesy North Star Way Publishing

The program is split into two phases that each last seven days. Dieters start phase one by replacing breakfast and lunch with three green juices, with meals like Asian shrimp stir-fry with buckwheat noodles or miso and sesame-glazed tofu with ginger and chili stir-fried greens for dinner. By day four, users are up to two full meals a day, and by phase two, their eating Sirtfood-rich meals at regular intervals.

RELATED VIDEO: Adele’s Workout Mean Mug is Giving us #WorkoutGoals!


Goggins and Matten found in trials that dieters lost an average of 7 lbs. in seven days — and one PEOPLE reporter is going to put that challenge to the test over the next week. Stay tuned!

Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission rejects special diet case for second time

Posted: Friday, March 3, 2017 5:46 pm

Updated: 6:00 pm, Fri Mar 3, 2017.

Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission rejects special diet case for second time


HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has for a second time rejected a discrimination claim by five social assistance recipients who say the province hasn’t increased the special diet allowance for those with chronic medical problems since 1996.

The commission’s board had been ordered to re-visit the issue in January by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Justice James Chipman said the commission had been “unreasonable” in rejecting the initial claim and said it should reconsider in “accordance with the principles of fairness and transparency.”

In a Feb. 24 letter sent to the recipients’ lawyer, Vincent Calderhead, chair Eunice Harker says the commission is dismissing the complaint because no significant issues of discrimination were raised.

“Upon review, it is evident the special diet program needs to be reviewed by the province. This board expressed the view that the individual personal benefits as well as the special diet allowances are concerning.”

Harker said that the decision is in accordance with the province’s Human Rights Act.

“These decisions are very difficult for us to make as we recognize persons in receipt of social benefits are on a low fixed income. However, our decisions must be based on factual and legislative reasoning.”

Harker’s letter went on to urge the province to complete its review of the social assistance program “in a timely manner.”

In an email, Calderhead expressed disappointment with the decision.

“This time, their letter is more lengthy and contains some criticisms of the province for its failure to increase rates,” he wrote.

“Still, it is very frustrating the commission couldn’t see its way to at least giving the complainants a hearing.”

Nova Scotia Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard has said her department is considering what to do with special diet allowances as it examines its social assistance programs, but she has made no specific promise of change.

The department says it spends a significant portion of its overall benefits budget for special diets — at about $8.8 million in 2015-16.

About 9,000 Nova Scotians get special diet assistance each month.

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Friday, March 3, 2017 5:46 pm.

Updated: 6:00 pm.

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Diet or Exercise: The Final Verdict on Which Is Better for Weight Loss

Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, iStockYou’ve heard it over and over again: Diet and exercise are the key to a healthy weight. As it turns out, though, one is far more important than the other. If you’re looking to drop pounds, your best bet is to focus on food.

Despite the constant message to burn fat and calories away at the gym, people who only change their diets lose more weight than those who only increase physical activity, according to a report in the journal Systematic Reviews. In fact, another recent study in the journal PeerJ found that over three years, people who got 30 minutes or more of physical activity a day actually had higher rates of weight gain than those who exercised less. So why isn’t gym time the miracle weight-loss machine we’ve been led to believe?

Basically, it’s way easier to avoid calories in the first place than to try to burn them off, says registered dietitian nutritionist Marjorie Nolan Cohn, MS, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Working off a 100-calorie cookie is one thing, but it would take hours at the gym to negate 1,200 calories from a burger and fries. “You can’t exercise off a weekend of terrible eating,” says Nolan Cohn. Committing to a 30-minute workout program? Easy enough. Turning your entire eating plan on its head? Not so much.

Plus, if you don’t pay attention to portion sizes, you might eat more after you start a new workout routine, says Nolan Cohn. Not only will your appetite increase naturally from the energy burn, but you might also slack off on healthy food choices. “There’s this idea that you’ve earned it to eat something because you worked out,” says Nolan Cohn. “It winds up holding people back.” Half an hour on the treadmill might blast away 300 calories, but just one slice of cake could totally negate that hard work—and then some.

You might have heard that muscle weighs more than fat. That’s true, but it doesn’t mean you should claim that bigger number on the scale is all muscle. “That’s a few pounds, not 20 or 30 pounds,” says Nolan Cohn. “It’s not an excuse for the weight gain.” If you’ve been exercising without results, your diet is probably to blame.

Still, don’t cancel your gym membership. The Systematic Reviews study found that pairing diet with exercise was even more successful for weight-loss than diet alone. Exercise doesn’t just burn calories and build muscles—it boosts endorphins too, says Nolan Cohn. “It improves feelings of positivity or accomplishment,” she says. “When you combine those forces [of diet and exercise], it reinforces losing the weight and keeping it off.” While adding exercise to a healthier diet doesn’t lead to additional weight loss in the first six months of a program, those who both diet and exercise have better long-term results over a year, found a review in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Plus, weight maintenance is just the beginning when it comes to reasons to exercise. Studies have linked physical activity to all kinds of other healthy benefits, from heart health and immune system function to mental health and sleep improvements. “The list just never ends,” says Nolan Cohn.

MORE: 8 Exercises That Flatten Your Belly (Without a Single Crunch)

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