Baltimore (May 30, 2012) – Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Deputy Secretary Frances Phillips and Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Secretary Buddy Hance today discussed healthy eating and demonstrated how to make fruit smoothies as part of Governor Martin O’Malley’s Healthy Maryland Week. The event was held for clients at the Community Clinic, Inc., Wheaton WIC Center in Montgomery County. During the event, participants viewed a trailer of the new HBO documentary, Weight of the Nation, which explores many facets of the obesity epidemic.
“Good nutrition, including breastfeeding infants, is important for your health,” said Deputy Sec. Phillips. “Research has shown that early access to healthy foods, nutrition education, and prenatal care can help reduce infant mortality and rates of childhood obesity.”
“Today nutritious foods are available at a variety of convenient locations like local farmers' markets and farm stands,” said Secretary Hance. “Maryland offers a number of programs to assist lower income families gain access to affordable nutritious, local food. Buying locally, especially directly from farmers at farmers’ markets, is good for the environment, good for our health and is a key to ensuring a smart, green and growing future for Maryland families”
In 2009 and 2010, infant mortality in Maryland reached the lowest level in state history. This accomplishment is due, in part, to state efforts to ensure women are healthy prior to pregnancy and that they receive early prenatal care, and have access to healthy foods and nutrition education through programs like Women, Infant and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) programs.
Eating healthy foods is also essential in addressing the nation’s obesity epidemic. Obesity is a major contributor to some of the leading causes of death including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer. Addressing the obesity epidemic in Maryland requires action to make the healthy choice the easiest choice in the places where citizens spend most of their time: homes, childcare facilities, schools, workplaces, and communities.
The WIC and Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) make locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey available to low-income women, infants and children as well as income-eligible seniors age 60 and older. Visit http://www.mda.state.md.us/pdf/fm_nutrition_program.pdf for more information about FMNP.
In FY 2011, more than 300 Maryland farmers received almost $490,000 from the FMNP program. Funded primarily by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, FMNP is designed to increase access to local produce for low income and senior citizens. This program benefited 148,213 WIC recipients in Maryland.
Also in FY2011, MDA and DHMH successfully rolled out a new program allowing WIC recipients to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables with WIC fruit and vegetable checks (also known as cash value vouchers in other states), in addition to FMNP checks. The WIC Program provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education at no cost to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding post-partum women, and to infants and children up to 5 years of age, who are found to be at nutritional risk.
For more information on locations to buy local produce, recipes, tips, Maryland farms and more, visit the Maryland’s Best web site at www.marylandsbest.net.
“Weight of the Nation” premiered on HBO (May 14-15, 2012) and is available for free streaming at http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com. Bringing together the nation's leading research institutions, THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION is a presentation of HBO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. The film explores many facets of the obesity epidemic in four parts: Consequences, Choices, Children in Crises, and Challenges.
# # #
Editors Note: Photos available upon request. Contact MDA at 410-841-5889
Follow MD Department of Agriculture on Twitter at: @MdAgDept