April 18, 2014

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Backpacks with healthy snacks PDF Print E-mail
Written by thillman   
Thursday, April 10, 2014 1:03 PM

Shannon Franklin

Purdue Extension/Ohio County Health and Human Sciences Educator/4-H Youth Development

It is a proven fact that when kids are hungry, they tend to not perform as well in school. According to the Health Connections Newsletter (Issue 12, Vol. 1, Winter 2014, Dairy Council of California), eating breakfast can lead to higher academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems in youth. With the increasing cost of living and uncertain economic changes, it is sometimes difficult to make a family’s food dollars stretch far enough so that nutritious and adequate food can be provided at all times.

Knowing that this may be a problem for families in our community, the City of Rising Sun, The Ohio County Community Foundation, Ohio County Elementary Middle School, the Ohio County Extension Homemakers and Purdue Extension-Ohio County teamed up during the 2012-2013 school year to provide “Backpacks with Healthy Snacks” for 60 students at Ohio County Elementary Middle School in order to supply a little extra nutrition to keep them growing and learning.

Flash forward to the 2013-2014 school year where students at OCEMS were offered the “Backpacks with Healthy Snacks” program at the beginning of the school year and over 100 families are being given food each week. Each bag consists of items that correlate to USDA’s MyPlate along with recipe flyers that use one of the food items within the bag, along with healthy living tips for parents and an activity page for youth. The bags contain items that are quick and easy for youth to prepare and require little or minimal assistance from an adult. Some of the items that students receive include instant oatmeal, tuna, green beans, canned fruit, breakfast bars and macaroni and cheese.

When asked about the impact of the program at OCEMS, School Nurse Jamie Works replied, “I've had nothing but positive feedback from the parents about this program. It has been really helpful for our community.” Teacher Mary Jo Rowell quoted “Our daily living class has really enjoyed delivering the bags each week. It has been a great job skill for them and they have really enjoyed helping.”

Mayor Branden Roeder says that the program exemplifies how multiple entities can collaborate together to achieve an overall goal. This program is a great way to help local families out in troubled financial times. It has been great to observe the excited children when they receive their bag of nutritious food.

This program takes a multitude of work from many organizations and on behalf of Backpacks with Healthy Snacks a huge thank you goes to the City of Rising Sun and the Ohio County Community Foundation for financing the program, the City of Rising Sun workers who help retrieve and unload the food shipments, the Ohio County Extension Homemakers for packaging the food on a weekly basis, the OCEMS Daily Living Students for handing out the bags and Purdue Extension-Ohio County for creating the informational flyers and healthy living information.

For more information on this topic or any other, please contact Shannon Franklin, Purdue Cooperative Extension Educator, HHS/4-H Youth Development, 812-438-3656 or frankls@purdue.edu Purdue University, Indiana Counties and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity Institution.

 

 
It's time to raise the minimum wage PDF Print E-mail
Written by thillman   
Thursday, April 03, 2014 10:43 AM

by Lane Siekman

Democratic Candidate For Congress,Indiana 6Th District

  

On March 15, 2013, during consideration of a bill to consolidate job-training programs (H.R. 803), Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) offered an amendment that, among other things, would incrementally increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) voted against this amendment. In January 2014, Rep. Messer said that he was now open to considering a “two-tiered increase” in the nation’s minimum wage, but still no vote has been taken and Speaker Boehner has said he would rather commit suicide than vote for a “clean” increase. It’s very clear that that Mr. Messer and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives will not buck their corporate masters on this issue, but it's time to raise the minimum wage. 

In 2007, the federal minimum wage was increased by $2.10 to the current $7.25 an hour. The minimum wage hasn't even come close to keeping up with inflation over the past 40 years. Sadly, 40 percent of Americans make less today than 1968?s minimum wage, as measured in today’s dollars and if the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth since 1968, it would be over $18 an hour today. 

The United States had no minimum wage until 1938, when Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as part of FDR’s New Deal. Before then, employers could pay workers whatever they wanted, and they usually wanted to pay very little. Between 1912 and 1920, 13 states plus the District of Columbia passed minimum wage laws, only to have them struck down by the U. S. Supreme Court because they were “unfair” to workers as it kept them from making low-ball offers. In 1933, congress passed a law that mandated a .25 per hour minimum hourly wage, only to have it struck as well in 1935 (Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States). 

In 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had to fight Republicans, conservative Democrats, the Supreme Court and corporate leaders to pass a lasting minimum wage law. In doing so, He warned “Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you – using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions - tell you that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.”(1938, Fireside Chat, the night before signing the Fair Labor Standards Act that instituted the federal minimum wage) 

Studies from both conservative and liberal think tanks have recommended raising the minimum wage, and Australia has had positive results from raising theirs but opponents continue to promote two ideas that are antithetical to the economic well-being of American workers. The first idea being that the minimum wage hurts the economy by reducing job creation. The second being that the minimum wage reduces the opportunity for social mobility. These views are being promoted by Billionaire Charles Koch, who believes that the U.S. actually needs to get rid of the minimum wage altogether, which he considers a major obstacle to economic growth. 

But this isn't what we have learned from the example set in Australia and its more than $16 an hour minimum wage which was the only major world economy to avoid the 2009 global recession. Australia also ranks ahead of the United States and its $7.25 an hour minimum wage in terms of social mobility and the opportunity for individuals to climb the social ladder. The United States came in 10th, far below countries like Denmark, which ranked first, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Spain and France. Australia also had no recession like the U.S. and there was not a single quarter in which GDP declined in Australia. 

While raising the minimum wage is ultimately no cure-all for the economy, countries like Australia show that guaranteeing workers a living wage will not result in economic Armageddon. Instead, it highlights how conservatives often revert to scapegoating low-wage workers for America’s economic woes. In the U.S., economic inequality has grown rapidly, and the lagging minimum wage is in large part to blame. Some states have moved to address the growing gap between what people earn and the rising cost of living, but nationally the minimum wage has barely moved in decades. 

In a robust economy, the minimum wage really doesn't mean anything since the demand for labor is high and the market rate will likely exceed the minimum amount set by the government. However when the economy is in a recessionary or stagnant mode, the minimum wage is an important tool in maintaining the crucial relationship between labor and capital. In essence, it becomes a “buyer’s market” for labor and allows market forces to keep the value of labor artificially low. 

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over two-and-a-half years, in three steps of 95 cents each. It will also adjust the minimum wage annually to keep pace with the rising cost of living - a key policy reform known as “indexing,” which 11 states are already using to prevent the minimum wage from falling in value each year and finally it will raise the minimum wage for tipped workers - which has been frozen at a meager $2.13 per hour for more than twenty years - to 70 percent of the full minimum wage. 

An increase does not cost jobs. Research indicates that the higher cost of hiring someone is offset by the stability an employer gets out of it - better paid workers quit less. It would reduce income inequality. Two different studies have shown that raising the minimum wage will help raise the incomes of poor people. Finally It could help the economy. People who make less money tend to spend a bigger portion of it. A 2011 study by the Federal Reserve of Chicago found that for every $1 increase in the minimum wage, the worker's household spends about $2,800 more a year. The Economic Policy Institute has said that raising the minimum wage to just $9.40 by 2014 would increase gross domestic product by $25 billion and create 100,000 new jobs.

The typical minimum wage worker today isn't a teenager but an adult who brings home at least half of the family's income. We must recognize the value of work and reward it. Restoring the minimum wage as a “living wage” not only helps these hard-working Americans raise their standard of living, but it shifts the costs of public assistance from the taxpayers. No one who works full-time in this country should have to live in poverty. It's time to raise the minimum wage.

 
Extra work pays off in garden PDF Print E-mail
Written by thillman   
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 9:29 AM

Growing your own garden transplants from seed may take some extra work, but it does have its advantages.

 You'll have a much wider choice of species and cultivars since most garden centers have limited space and tend to carry primarily the plants that sell quickly. Rather than having to buy a dozen of one type of tomato when you only need one or two, you can grow just the amount of each plant you need. Or you can grow five flats of flowers all in the same color for that border garden you've been planning. 

On the other hand, growing plants from seed does present some challenges, including finding enough space with the appropriate environment for healthy plants. They'll need bright light, high humidity, warm - but not hot - temperature and good air circulation. If your space for plant production is limited, plan on buying the more commonly found plants from the garden center, and save the home production space for the special, hard-to-find items you can only obtain as seed.

Start with high-quality, fresh seed; look for the freshness date on the packet. Almost any container can be used for planting, as long as it is clean and allows excess water to drain out the bottom. Use a fine-textured, well-drained media, such as a peat moss-vermiculite mixture. Seeds need high relative humidity for good germination, so place a plastic bag around the container until seedlings are up and growing. Too much humidity also can be a problem, so poke a few holes in the plastic to allow ventilation. 

Transplanting seedling

Be sure to check your seedlings frequently for moisture needs. The planting media should be kept reasonably moist throughout the germination period. Water gently to avoid physically damaging the tender seedlings. Once plants are up and growing, allow the media to dry slightly between waterings.

Most home growers get into trouble after the seeds come up by not supplying the plants with enough light. Low light causes plants to become spindly and weak, so place them in as sunny a location as possible. Use artificial lights, if necessary.

Proper timing is crucial if you want the transplant to be the right size at planting time. Seeds of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant should be started about seven weeks before your outdoor planting date. Pumpkins, melons and squash should be started about four weeks before planting outdoors. Flower seeds will need anywhere from four to 14 weeks, depending on the species. Most seed packets have this type of information on the back.

For more information, see Purdue Extension Bulletin HO-14, Starting Seeds Indoors.

 
Financial health and wealth-ten ways to change your health and finances PDF Print E-mail
Written by thillman   
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 1:45 PM

by Shannon Franklin

Spring is always a good time- the weather gets better, the days get longer, we feel like cleaning things out and there is motivation for exercise, gardening, eating healthier and just a sense of rejuvenation.

Have you ever stopped to take a moment though and think about how your health affects your over-all well-being both physical AND financially? Many people don’t realize that one area of our life can have an impact on a variety of other areas. For example, if you live a healthy lifestyle, you are likely to live longer. Do you have enough money saved to sustain your lifestyle in retirement? To counterpoint that, if you don’t have the healthiest lifestyle you might have more medical expenses. Can you afford high medical bills and have money to invest for the future?

25 Days to Health and Wealth, courtesy of Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service, offers a variety of behavior change strategies that can be applied simultaneously to improve your health and personal finances. Here are 10 tips to get you started on road to health and wealth fitness!

1. Track yourself- many people do not know how many steps they take each day, how many calories they consume or actually how many dollars they spend each month. Track your steps by using a pedometer (check out pedometer.com), write down what you eat in a food journal and keep a tally of every penny you spend. Do the math at the end of the week and see how many steps you walked, how many calories you ate and how much you spent. After figuring the amounts ask yourself- if there any “emotional” triggers that caused a behavior such as spending too much, up sizing a meal or not walking your daily goal.

2. Unload Your Childhood Baggage- believe it or not, childhood experiences affect health and personal finance behaviors. In this case, baggage can be defined as the false, irrational feelings and beliefs which distort people’s thinking and affect their health and financial behaviors. Recognize your baggage and turn it into a positive health and financial message. For example: Negative: No matter what I eat, I am destined to be overweight.

Positive: Can’t change my genetics but I can go for a walk after dinner.

3. Put Your Mind to It-Visualize your health and wealth goal, remind yourself of previous successes, use power phrases like “I will save $100/month” instead of “I plan to save $100/month”. Use negative behavior in past tense: “I used to not exercise but now I can walk a 15 minute mile”.

4. Commit to Making a Change- behavior changes take place in stages. Pre-contemplation (not being aware of the need for change), contemplation (thinking about possibly making a change), preparation (getting ready to make a change), action (actually changing behavior) and maintenance (sustaining the changed behavior). Commitment to change takes place during the preparation stage of change and is where we develop the “I will….” statements versus continuing the “I plan to…” statements.

5. Defy Someone or Defy the Odds- Defiance also has its positive aspects and can be used in a positive way to improve your health and your wealth. If someone says “you can’t run a 5k by summer” prove them wrong by starting a Couch to 5k program or by getting a gym membership and training. If you don’t have a person to defy than defy the odds by not being another statistic.

6. Think Balance-Not Sacrifice-Balance the intake of something with the outgo. Many people find that their weight and/or debt increases slowly over time. By taking small steps you can reverse the outcome over time. For example, adding 15 minutes of brisk walking every day will burn off about 100 calories and result in about a 10 pound weight loss per year. Changing one spending habit can also make a big difference. Cutting back on a $1 soda from the soda machine each day will result in saving $5 per week which over 4 weeks results in $20 a month saved!

7. Control Your Destiny- To achieve health and wealth, expect a positive outcome and work to achieve that outcome. Your attitude and beliefs about your control over future life events are important success factors.

8. Make Progress Everyday- Any small step to improve your health or increase your wealth is better than doing nothing. Whether it’s parking the car a little further away from the store to walk more, clipping coupons to save money or reducing the number of soda’s you drink, every little step helps towards taking care of your health and wealth.

9. Get Help and Be Accountable- Other people can be an obstacle or a resource to making progress toward health and wealth goals. The trick is to get supportive people like family, friends and coworkers on your side. Try walking with a friend, cooking healthy meals with your spouse or roommate, or walking the dog each day. The best support comes from people who themselves practice positive behavior and those who will provide critical feedback when needed.

10. Say “NO’ to Super-Sizing- this doesn’t just relate to fast food! How many of us have purchased 3 of something because the fourth one is free? Or how many of us have super-sized our fries for just a few cents more? Saying no to “meal deals” will help you save on BOTH calories and money while saying no to non-food spending will save you from buying in excess so that you aren’t spending money to save money.

These are just a few ideas for changing or sustaining your financial health and wealth. Change takes time and can be frustrating so if you fall of the health or savings wagon, get back on and try to avoid the things that tempt you. If you want to lose weight, avoid buying cookies at the grocery store or if you want to pay off your Macy’s credit card, avoid looking at store ads or receiving email offers. Your health and wealth are related, so don’t let yourself get under the weather! (Information courtesy: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/internal/)

 For more information on this topic or any other, please contact Shannon Franklin, Purdue Cooperative Extension Educator, HHS/4-H Youth Development, 812-438-3656 or frankls@purdue.edu Purdue University, Indiana Counties and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity Institution.

Shannon Franklin is Purdue Extension/Ohio County Health and Human Sciences Educator/4-H Youth Development.

 
Messer forms Congressional School Choice Caucus PDF Print E-mail
Written by thillman   
Thursday, February 06, 2014 12:25 PM

In honor of National School Choice Week, Congressman Luke Messer has announced the formation of the Congressional School Choice Caucus. The caucus seeks to highlight how applying market-based principles to education can enhance student achievement. Members of the caucus will be dedicated to expanding educational freedom and promoting policies that increase high-quality education for all children.

“No child should be forced to go to a school where they won’t have a meaningful chance to learn,” said Congressman Luke Messer. “That’s why school choice matters. Whether that means open enrollment, expanding charter schools options or more excess to virtual classrooms, empowering parents with a choice will give their children a greater chance for success.”

House Speaker John Boehner, author of the first school choice language ever to become law, said he is pleased with Congressman Messer’s decision to form the Congressional School Choice Caucus: “In America, a good education is the great equalizer, something that gives our children the chance to fulfill their potential no matter how they fared in the lottery of life. That’s why the more we can do to empower parents to pick and choose the schools that best meet their kids’ needs, the better. When parents have the ability to select the best learning environment for their kids, they thrive and so do their communities. It’s one way for us to live up to our billing as the 'Land of Opportunity.' I’m pleased Representative Messer is launching the School Choice Caucus to draw greater attention to the value and importance of school choice.”

Congressman Messer is the former head of School Choice Indiana—an organization dedicated to expanding quality education options for Hoosier families. He also spoke on the House floor earlier this week to commemorate National School Choice Week, which runs through Saturday. For a link to the video, click here.

Indiana Representatives Larry Bucshon, Todd Rokita, Todd Young and Jackie Walorski are also Congressional School Choice Caucus members.

 
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