July 2016 Newsletter

In the last speech of his life, John Gardner, former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare for the Johnson Administration wrote:
I keep running into highly capable people all over this country who literally never give a thought to the well-being of their community. And I keep wondering, who gave them permission to stand aside! I’m asking you to issue a wake-up call to those people – a bugle call right in their ear. And I want you to tell them that this nation could die of comfortable indifference to the problems that only citizens can solve. Tell them that.
I read those words often; and as I read them today I’m both inspired and motivated to do more. And I’m humbled to know and work with so many who clearly – whether at Gardner’s urging or through other moments of personal inspiration, never stand aside but rather push themselves to do more each day.
There is no doubt that too many in our society lack the basics; food, clothing and shelter. We can – and must – do what is possible to ensure all individuals have the opportunity and access to meet their most basic needs so as to lead dignified, productive and healthy lives. That’s our mission at The Root Cause Coalition – a Coalition growing each month with members from across the country and throughout the health and human services sectors who have never stood aside; nor are they afraid to ask the tough questions about how best to create safer, healthier communities that meet the needs of all citizens. And they aren’t afraid to ask the basic questions either: Did you have enough to eat today? Are you lonely? Are you warm? Can I help?
I don’t believe we’re a society of indifference but rather we’re often overwhelmed; knowing there is so much to be done and everything seems a priority. But by working together on the basic issues that require a collective approach we can make sustainable, lasting differences.
Indeed, sometimes the bugle call can be a simple conversation and the most impactful programs and services to aid others start with one idea, or one question. We’re grateful for your interest in The Root Cause Coalition and invite you to visit our website to learn about and become engaged in the many programs and events we’ve designed to help shape a better tomorrow – for everyone.
Warm regards,


Barbara J. Petee
Executive Director

The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight: The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI)

The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) advocates for legal, regulatory, and policy reforms to improve the health of underserved populations, with a focus on the needs of low-income people living with chronic illnesses and disabilities. CHLPI works with consumers, advocates, community-based organizations, health and social services professionals, food providers and producers, government officials, and others to expand access to high-quality healthcare and nutritious, affordable food; to reduce health disparities; to develop community advocacy capacity; and to promote more equitable and effective healthcare and food systems. CHLPI is a clinical teaching program of Harvard Law School and mentors students to become skilled, innovative, and thoughtful practitioners as well as leaders in health, public health, and food law and policy.

Recently In the News

A recent study compared the opinions of the American public to expert nutritionists on the healthiness of selected foods.  Some common foods that are almost always referred to as “healthy” had no percentage gap of disagreement. However, some food groups were surprisingly disagreed upon. After surveys were conducted, things that were most widely disagreed upon included granola, quiona, coconut oil, sushi, and frozen yogurt. Nutritionists suggest that your overall diet matters significantly more than worrying about following strict food group and dieting guidelines.

A study recently explored several factors that influence the nutritional status of our older adult population. These can include physical limitations, cultural issues that limit their ability to obtain nutritionally adequate foods, and economic barriers. It is important for us to understand the problems of and aid this population, because the overall wellness of this older adult population is said to reflect the overall health of our country.

Upcoming Events

September 14, 2016 – Western Regional Summit “Diagnosis: Hunger” in partnership with The Alliance to End Hunger – Register here.

December 6, 2016 – First Annual National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health – Register here.

Research Highlights

Schools Take on Obesity Prevention

As obesity rates continue to rise across the country, Michigan schools are tackling childhood obesity in the classroom and on the playground. Principals, educators, and school leaders have collaborated to provide education components and environmental changes with measured benchmarks to evaluate student progress. Over 390 schools have adopted the “Building Healthy Communities” program and more than 180,000 elementary and high-school aged children have learned how to maintain healthy diets and increase daily mobility. The positive results of the program to date translates to an estimated $210 million in future health care savings and decreased adult obesity.

Tackling Hunger CHNA Guidance

Released this week, a guide for nonprofit hospitals to incorporate food security into community health needs assessments (CHNA). Food insecurity and a lack of sustainable healthy resources is a contributing factor for those struggling to prevent and manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Individuals with limited financial resources often must chose between food and essential medication. This guidance provides practical resources for hospitals to recognize tools available within local community and faith-based organizations.

Irregular meal-pattern effects on energy, metabolism, and appetite

A recent study completed in the United Kingdom focused on the correlation between increased food availability and obesity. The authors created two different meal patterns to study energy and body weight over two weeks amongst healthy women with a regular meal plan (6 meals per day) and those women whom participated in an irregular plan (3-9 meals per day). Their research showed meal regularity (6 meals/d) is associated with greater energy and lower blood sugar shifts which may lead to greater weight management and overall health.