Category: Uncategorized

Connecting Local Foods to Schools

By: Courtney Luecking MPH, MS, RD Doctoral candidate: Nutrition

Interest in local foods has risen so much in recent years that there are skits on Portlandia and critics speculate whether it’s time to table farm-to-table.

In spite of the pop culture hold on local food, there are sustainable and real economic, environmental, mental, physical, and social benefits to eating local:

  • Contributes to local economy
  • Safer food supply
  • Enhanced flavor
  • More nutrients
  • Increased community connection

Recently efforts have expanded to connect schools with local farmers to provide kids access to nutritious, high quality foods and hands-on learning opportunities. In return, farmers can gain access to a substantial financial opportunity and there is an increased sense of community.


October is National Farm to School Month. Core elements of farm to school include: education, procurement, and/or school gardens. Efforts begin in early childhood education settings and continue all the way through college. This year’s theme, One Small Step, highlights easy ways people can get informed, get involved, or take action support farm to school in their communities.

Check out some of the top Farm to School success stories from 2015.


How can you take one small step for farm to school?



Grace Communications Foundation. Local Food Systems.

National Farm to School Network.

Utah State University Extension Sustainability. The Local Food Movement.

Don’t let depression get you down, get help

By: Shauna Ayres MPH: Health Behavior candidate 2017

People tend to loosely use the word depressed as meaning temporarily disappointed or sad, but depression is a serious mental illness that effects many young adults. In fact, the age group experiencing the highest levels of depression are those 18-25 years old at approximately 9.3% of this population as compared with 6.6 % of all US adults. Going to college is a monumental transition period in people’s lives and living independently for the first time, having a difficult course load, interacting with new people, and changes in diet, sleep, and lifestyle habits can increase your susceptibility of depression. If you are feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable for longer than normal (typically measured in at least 2 weeks or more), you may have depression. However, this common illness is treatable. (


Therapy: We could all benefit from talking with a professional, but for those with depression, it is even more important. There are different types of therapies that can be done over the phone, face-to-face, or in a group. CAPS Services at UNC offer a range of therapy and counseling options for students.

For CAPS Walk-In Services:

Go to the 3rd floor of the Campus Health Services Building.

MON-THURS: 9 am – noon or 1 pm – 4 pm

FRI: 9:30 am – noon or 1 pm – 4 pm. 

Medications: A range of medications are available for treating depression including SSRIs, anti-anxiety medication, and mood stabilizers. You should discuss medications with your primary care doctor and/or learn more about your options at your CAPS assessment.

 Other Strategies to Reduce Depression:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Spending time outside in nature
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Get enough sleep
  • Learn a relaxation technique, such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscule relaxation.
  • Avoid using drugs
  • Don’t drink alcohol, or only drink in moderation
  • Break up large tasks into small ones.
  • Try to spend time with people who are supportive, including family, friends, student groups, etc.
  • Try something new and try to have fun


Don’t let depression get you down. Your college years are supposed to be some of the best of your life, so get the help you need now and start living the life you’ve imagined.

Running Pains

By: Shauna Ayres MPH: Health Behavior candidate 2017

If you’re like me, treadmill workouts and staring at myself in the mirror at the gym gets old and monotonous. I want to change up my routine a little and start doing some more exercise outdoors. After all, the weather is starting cooling off a little, fall is in the air, and being outside is actually enjoyable this time of year. The easiest exercise to do outside is running; however easy to do, running is a very technical activity. Particularly if you are new to running, there are symptoms and injuries to watch out for and address early in order to avoid pain and allow you to stay healthy and active. Below is a list of common injuries and what to do if you experience them.

  1. Runner’s Knee: irritation under the kneecap, inside or outside of the knee, that can flare up during workouts, persist afterward, or occur while going down stairs or hills. It is caused by weak quads, hips, or glutes. If you experience runner’s knee take at least three days of rest and avoid exercises that require you to lean forward, because it puts pressure on the knees. Work on strengthening your quads and maintain cardiovascular health by swimming or using an elliptical during your recovery period.
  2. IT-Band Syndrome: a strain on the connective tissue that runs from the outside of the hip to the shin. Irritation occurs when the IT-band rubs against the bone. It can be a dull pain on the outside of the knee and/or radiate up and down the leg after 10-20 minutes of running. If you experience IT-band syndrome, take a few days of rest and look into orthotics or new shoes. Again swimming or elliptical training can help maintain cardiovascular health while you recover.
  3. Shin Splints: small tears in the muscles around your shinbones that result in aching pain that fades after a warm-up or completed workout. It is most common among new or returning runners. If you experience shin splints, make sure you rest and then gradually work back into a routine, slowly increasing your run mileage. Make sure your shoes are in good condition and fit properly. Cycling and swimming are the best cardiovascular alternatives during your recovery period.

Remember if you have persistent pain or concerns about any of these or other injuries, always consult with your healthcare professional.

For more information about runner’s injuries go to:

For tips on “How to Start Running Without Getting Knee Pain” go to:

Spotlight on Men’s Health [infographic]

Guest Blogger: John Rehm

According to, cancer is the second leading cause of death in men and that 1 in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, prostate cancer survival rates increases significantly if detected and treated early.

To increase public understanding of the disease, prevention tips, treatment options, and encourage men to proactively manage their health, the American Cancer Society has dubbed September as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

The graphic below created by Nursing@Georgetown, Georgetown University’s online FNP program, breaks down the U.S Department of Health and Human Services health guidelines for men to improve overall health and wellness throughout their lifespan.


Time for a Change (in birth control)?

By: Aria Gray MPH: Maternal and Child Health candidate 2017

Over the summer I got married and moved into a new apartment and if that was not enough change combined with the start of the Fall semester, I am thinking about changing my birth control method. This is a common struggle that many women who rely on contraceptives often face. There is no “One size fits all” birth control, and often we must try several different options before finding our perfect method. It is sometimes very obvious when changes in your health or negative effects on your quality of life are a result of your birth control method, and other times it is not as apparent. Your health needs may also have changed since the last time you started a new method or you may have new priorities in your life.Birth control

If you are having trouble remembering to take your pill or change your method every month you may want to consider a new method that is easier to use. Additionally, if you are experiencing mood swings or depression, acne, a decrease in libido, headaches or migraines, and heavier periods it may time to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your current method and options for switching. nuvaring

When faced with dissatisfaction with their method of birth control, many women choose to discontinue their current method without immediately starting a new method or without consulting their doctor, which places them at increased risk of unintended pregnancy. Click here for more specific information for how to switch your birth control method, and don’t forget to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options.  IUD

This new period tracking app is “Spot On”

By: Aria Gray MPH: Maternal and Child Health candidate 2017

Adjusting to the start of the school year and being back on campus can be very stressful and overwhelming. It can start to seem like you don’t have time to take care of everything on your list, including keeping track of your own health and your body including keeping track of your period. Your period is a normal (though not always fun) part of life, and tracking can be helpful to understand your own unique cycle and to observe if your cycle is changing at all. To help keep track of your menstrual cycle and your birth control method, consider downloading the new Planned Parenthood Spot On app.

Spot On is for anyone who gets a period or who uses birth control and does not make assumptions about your gender identity or sexual orientation. You can track your flow, symptoms, mood, and also daily activities. The app also has features that help you remember to take your01 birth control. Unlike other period tracking apps that are available, Spot On does not assume that you are trying to get pregnant and doesn’t treat your period like a part of your life that should stay hidden.

The app also includes FAQs and other helpful period resources as well as statistics based on information tracked in the app, which will make filling out forms at your next doctors appointment so much less stressful.

Swipe Right, Save a Life

Currently, there are more than 120,000 people on the waiting list for an organ, with a new individual being added every 10 minutes. Additionally, 8,000 deaths occur every year in the U.S. because organs are not donated in time. But while an overwhelming 95 percent of Americans support organ donation, only half are actually registered as donors.

And if things weren’t bad enough, the current donor registry is a complete mess. When the system was setup in the 1960s, it made sense to have people register at the DMV because it was the only government building people passed through often. However, this has lead to each state having it’s own registry, all of which don’t communicate well with each another.

In an effort to solve these problems, a nonprofit group called Organize has teamed up with Tinder to develop an app that entices more people to register as donors. Just like users of popular dating app Tinder swipe right in an effort to find their perfect match – they can now can use this same concept to register to be organ donors- and potentially save someone’s life.

The organization is also leveraging social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to start conversations about the topic and create the first central organ donation registry. Organize believes that it’s not only important to legally register as a donor, but to publicly express your intent so your next of kin has piece of mind knowing they made the right decision. Social media platforms can provide just that, which is why Organize is capturing data from those who tweet or post about wanting to be a donor.

While we don’t know the implications of their efforts quite yet, we do know that what Organize is doing is definitely innovative, and has great potential to save many lives.

To learn more about the organization or how to register to be an organ donor, visit


How Gamification for Health and Fitness is Changing

Gamification, defined as the process of turning an activity or task into a game or something resembling a game, is increasingly being used to promote health and fitness by simply making working out more fun.

Through the use of features like badges, challenges and competition, popular apps and devices such as FitBit, Nike Running and Wii Fit are using gamification to give people the motivation and rewards they need to get off the couch.

But while this use of gamification began with the release of fitness trackers and apps that allow consumers to monitor different aspects of their health, the industry is now taking a slightly different approach. Rather than release fitness focused apps and games,  companies are starting to implement fitness into games people already have the motivation to play.

The success of this change can be best illustrated by the recent release of Pokémon Go, an augmented reality mobile phone game that is getting millions of people to walk way more than they normally do. The game requires users to walk around outside in order to collect Pokemon and various other rewards, and sets specific walking distance goals (5 kilometers, 10 kilometers) in order to hatch Pokemon “eggs”.

What mainly makes this game different from other fitness apps is that the exercise isn’t the main goal. Instead the game serves as a distraction to the actual exercise, with people walking up to ten miles a day without even realizing it.

While walking isn’t exactly high intensity exercise, it’s definitely a step in the right direction, especially for users who previously weren’t active at all. Overall, there’s no doubt that this is going to change the future of gamification in the health and fitness world, and it will be exciting to see what comes next.






Smoking Rates Down, E-Cigarette Rates Up

Earlier last month, the FDA announced a new rule that would extend the authority given to them in the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to include all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco.

If you’re not familiar with the original act, you may be wondering, what does this mean? 

Well, prior to this new rule taking place, there were no federal regulations on e-cigarettes, which meant e-cigarette companies had the ability to sell to minors under the age of 18 without restriction. Given the rising rate of e-cigarettes over the last few years, especially among youth, this lack of regulation caused reason for public health concern.

The CDC’s most recent Youth Risk Youth Behavior Survey revealed that among high schoolers, while cigarette use decreased significantly from 28 percent in 1991 to 11 percent in 2015, 24 percent of students reported using e-cigarettes during the past 30 days. Even though cigarette use is at an all time low for this population, many health experts fear that e-cigarettes may serve as a gateway to smoking. More importantly, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which has been shown to have a negative impact on adolescent brain development.

The new rule is a foundational step for the FDA in protecting people from the dangers of tobacco use. Not only does it allow the FDA to restrict sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but also allows them to regulate the marketing and distribution of these products. This means the FDA will help to prevent misleading claims made by manufacturers, evaluate ingredients, and communicate risks of these new tobacco products.


STI or STD: What Is The Difference?


If your work involves talking to people about sexual health, you must be talking to them about STDs. Or STIs. Or both. Right?

As the great STD-STI terminology challenge continues, just about everyone has had to choose one term or the other. Well, everyone except for the people who use both interchangeably to mean the same thing. Or those folks who use each in distinct ways to mean different things.

Many well-informed experts make absolutely no distinction between STI and STD. Others feel the distinctions are real and important.

For those who make a distinction, most would say STD describes a condition with visible signs and describable symptoms—a drip, an itch, a bump, fatigue. STI encompasses the broader spectrum of conditions both with and without symptoms.

There was some idea that using STI would make it clear to everyone that sexually transmitted conditions often have no symptoms. It might also lessen the stigma people frequently feel about having these conditions, making them more amenable to testing and treatment.

In actual practice, I’m not at all sure that’s happened. We now have reports that many young people believe STD refers to illnesses that can’t be cured, and STI refers to illnesses that can be.

There are sound reasons for choosing either term, or both. Which is working for you right now? Why is it best for your purposes? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES, is Senior Editor at ETR. You can view this article in its entirety at