Walking is low-impact, low expense physical fitness activity that individuals can practice to improve their health (e.g., by reducing their weight, improving cardiovascular health, and inhaling more clean outdoor air). UCD proposes to work collaboratively with local governments to assess the amount of public facilities and trails that exist in the Rio Grande Valley. We will then compare the Valley to other areas of Texas. Finally, UCD will promote expansion of public infrastructure in cities and in rural areas where needed.
POLICY PROPOSALS FOR 2018
- Increase public walking infrastructure in the Rio Grande Valley
- Open Access to School Tracks to Promote Walking & Running
- Incentivize the SNAP Purchase of Healthy Foods & Drinks
- Apply a Soda Tax in Texas
- Advocate for 5-Year Funding Reauthorization of Safety Net Clinics
- Expand the Texas Farmers Market Nutrition Program
Walking is low-impact, low expense physical fitness activity to improve health (e.g., by reducing their weight, improving cardiovascular health, and inhaling more outdoor air). Running has similar health benefits. UCD proposes to work collaboratively with school districts to assess the amount of public access to school-owned tracks for exercise during non-school operating hours. We will offer model public use policies and joint city/school cooperative agreements as a resource for school officials. We will then promote expansion of public access in school districts in cities and in rural areas where needed.
Consumption of more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and water will lead to better health versus the consumption of sugary drinks, high fat meats, highly preserved or processed foods, and high sugar content breads. However, the lower cost of unhealthy food choices (e.g., soda, chips, high-fat ground beef, and sugary cereals) makes it easier to purchase more unhealthy choices when a family is on a limited budget and must stretch its SNAP benefits as much as possible. We propose to develop policy recommendations on how SNAP recipients could be incentivized to make healthier purchases through the award of future purchase credits.
Consumption of more fruits and vegetables, good grains, and water will lead to better health versus the consumption of sugary drinks, high fat meats, highly preserved or processed foods, and high sugar content breads. Consumption of sodas is an especially easy and unhealthy habit in households when such drinks are easily accessible. We propose to collaborate with State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (Brownsville) who has in the last two legislative sessions introduced legislation to apply a one cent per ounce tax on carbonated beverages to reduce the consumption of such products. We plan to develop recommendations for bill modifications (e.g., reserving tax revenue to fund public health programs) to increase support for a tax levy that would garner broader support in the Texas Legislature.
The prevalence of diabetes is especially acute among the low-income population in the Valley. Access to health and nutrition advice is critical to enable individuals and families to live healthier lives. For many families in this income segment, the safety net clinics are the only option for medical advice to prevent or manage diabetes. Safety net clinics have been operating year to year without a secure assurance of continuing federal funding beyond 1 to 2 years. We intend to collaborate with the clinics, partner organizations and local health coalitions to advocate for permanent multi-year funding from the federal government.
Access to produce locally grown can be a powerful way to broaden the horizon of families on how to eat healthier. It is a way to make a positive impact on young children so that they learn to consume more produce. However, the lower cost of unhealthy food choices (e.g., soda, chips, high-fat ground beef, and sugary cereals) makes it tempting to purchase more unhealthy choices. Fruits and vegetables may not be the first choice for kids if they are not readily available at home. We propose to advocate for an increase in funding for the Texas Farmers’ Nutrition Program that funds $6 vouchers to WIC mothers (for a maximum of $30 annually) who can then redeem the vouchers at farmers markets for the purchase of produce.