As a registered dietitian and PR Expert, I was recently placed on the Board of Directors of Sisterbration, a philanthropic organization that empowers underserved populations with the knowledge, tools and resources to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Despite the fact that many would not guess, this program speaks to me as my father was from Panama, thus Hispanic. Having grown up in a single-mother household and having experienced many situations and influences that place these populations at risk, this organization gives me the feeling of giving back. I have written about Sisterbration before but I am writing again because as a health professional, I am truly excited about our new campaign being launched at Essence Music Festival called #iamSHE.
#iamSHE is a chronic disease prevention campaign designed to improve health outcomes and, ultimately, reduce racial/ethnic health disparities among African American and other women of color. #iamSHE aims to increase knowledge and understanding about the leading causes of death among women of color — cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and obesity — by enlisting the help of the nation’s top entertainers to help make healthy living a priority in Hollywood as well as our neighborhoods.
Throughout the year, Sisterbration sponsors targeted educational events both in person and virtually for adult women. Under the auspices of #iamSHE, Safe, Healthy and Empowered, our mission is to reach leaders in the communities to educate, empower and enlighten African American and other women of color to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Through #iamSHE the biggest names in music, fashion, sports and entertainment are using their star power to bring awareness to important women’s health issues and the philanthropic causes like Sisterbration that are working in the trenches to reverse the trend toward unhealthy lifestyles – especially in African American and Latino communities.
Follow the hashtag #iamSHE in the coming year and help educate at risk women and girls about these important issues or sign up to be a volunteer on the Sisterbration website or Facebook page. The feeling of helping those who have not the tools, education or resources to help themselves cannot be replaced.

Think Food or Think Hunger

Have you ever been hungry? No, I mean really hungry…the type of hungry where you don’t know when you will receive your next meal? I have.

As a child growing up in a single-mother household, we were eligible for food stamps and many times food was pretty scarce in our household. We received reduced-price school meals which on many days were the only substantial meal of the day. My mom would eat our leftovers to ensure that we three kids had enough to eat at dinner. That is reality for many households in our country today. It is heartbreaking to know that over 16 million children live in food insecure households, meaning many go to bed hungry just like I did on many occasions.

One of the great challenges of the next generation will be providing nutritious, affordable food to a global population expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050 — while using fewer resources. Today, an event in Washington, D.C. will “bring the issue home” and address domestic food security against the backdrop of this well-defined global debate.

As a registered dietitian, I have been honored to represent America’s Dairy Farmers for the past 10 years. The U.S. dairy industry has long played a significant role in our nation’s food system, communities and economy by providing wholesome, nutrient-rich foods that promote good health for just pennies per serving. Sustainability and green have become organizational buzz words over the past few years, but conservation and energy efficiency are rooted in dairy’s very foundation. From 1944 to 2007, dairy farmers have reduced their carbon footprint by 63 percent. Dairy Farmers have been able to produce more milk per cow through excellent cow care including regular veterinarian visits, nutritious feed and comfortable living conditions thus, being able to meet the demands of growing populations.

Just like in my household growing up, budgetary constraints are a huge contributor to hunger in America today. Every glass of milk and other dairy products contribute jobs, income and vitality to hundreds of communities across the nation. Three to four servings of milk and other dairy foods daily have a potential estimated health care cost savings of more than $214 billion over five years and can save families dollars out of their disposable income to spend on food. On average, Americans only consume about two servings of dairy daily. Adding one serving of dairy every day can help Americans get the nutrients they need in an easy and affordable way. A gallon of milk costing approximately $3.00-4.00 provides 16 glasses of stomach filling, satiating and nutrient-rich goodness while costing only .25 cents per glass.

With economic, environmental and social challenges facing everyone today, dairy farm families and companies are intent on doing their part by taking steps to reduce, reuse and recycle. In addition, building on their longstanding commitment to the environment, many dairy farmers recycle cow manure into natural fertilizer for cropland; compost for gardens in the community, bedding for their animals, and clean renewable energy.

My children have never experienced true hunger and hopefully, never will. It will take the contributions of all agricultural industries and support of these industries by the global community to make this a reality. Hopefully, today’s event will highlight why we all need to support our American food growers and producers in providing food for our future and future generations.

June Dairy Month

June is Dairy Month and June 2012 marks the 75th year of the dairy industry. This means for the past 75 years, dairy farming families have worked hard every day to provide the American public with safe, wholesome dairy foods for their families to enjoy for just pennies per serving.

Dairy foods (milk, cheese and yogurt) contribute substantial amounts of many nutrients in the U.S. diet that are important for good health, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and riboflavin making dairy foods a great nutrient bang for your calorie buck!

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans confirmed the importance of milk and milk products in a healthy diet by maintaining the recommendation of 3 daily servings of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products for those ages 9 and older. For children ages 4-8, the recommendation was increased from 2 to 2.5 servings, and for children ages 2-3, the recommendation remains 2 servings.

One serving from the milk group is equal to:
• Milk: 8 ounces (1 cup)
• Natural Cheese: 1.5 ounces
• Processed Cheese: 2 ounces
• Yogurt: 8 ounces

Are you and your family getting your three servings of dairy every day? This June celebrate the dairy farmers who provide the cheese for your macaroni, milk for your meals and yogurt for your parfait by making sure you get all three servings! And with the gas prices this summer taking a bite out of the budget, it is important to remember, dairy products offer economic value when evaluating the cost per nutrient of dairy compared to other foods and beverages.