Vegetable farming to be promoted in Punjab

Ludhiana, July 7 (PTI) Ludhiana district has been selected for promoting vegetables, in clusters of identified villages, with a budgeted lay out of Rs 12.5 crore as Punjab government is keen to promote vegetable cultivation in the state. Stating this Punjab Agriculture Director B S Sidhu said the vegetable farmers would be provided with financial support of Rs 33,000 per hectare within 40 kilometre radius. Read more


Public garden takes shape in Peaceful Valley

It seems to be the year of the community garden. Earlier this year, volunteers began putting in a garden in Grant Park on the South Hill, and now another garden on Parks Department property is coming to life in Peaceful Valley.

Located on the River Walk – a strip of park land just south of the river, off Water Avenue, west of the Peaceful Valley Community Center – the Peaceful Valley Community Garden will feature 27 raised beds when it’s completed, and it already has a waiting list.

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Strong4Life plans to grow community gardens to help kids learn about nutrition

Strong4Life is a campaign brought to Columbus by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Live Healthy Columbus to address the issue of childhood obesity.

According to Strong4Life literature, the state of Georgia has the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the nation, second only to Mississippi.

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Finding healthy desserts in NYC…Piece of cake!

It’s not exactly a “piece of cake” to find healthy desserts in the city. And the difficulty doubles if you are adhering to special dietary restrictions as well. But as always, New York City keeps pace with the most up-to-date fads, which now include the health food craze. Here are a few of NYC’s newest and healthiest dessert places:

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Eat your veggies! Watch your manners! Stay in school!

“Eat your veggies!” “Watch your manners!” “Stay in school!”.  Typical lines to make any child’s eyes roll. But when is the last time you heard a kid grunt because he or she was told, “Give to charity!”? It’s probably not as common as the others, and that’s probably not the child’s fault at all. But I believe the key to meaningful spending and motivated workers is raising a child to partake in philanthropy.

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Food Film: What’s for “LUNCH”?

ParentEarthWhat’s wrong with our food system when the U.S. Department of Defense runs the fruits and vegetables procurement process for the public school systems? Are our wars affecting our kids in more ways than one? Defense budgets for school food was a surprising take-away from watching LUNCH a film by Avis Richards. Suddenly bidding wars on school lunch become more symbolic: French fries, hot dogs and sugared milk are food bombs on our kids’ trays, leading to high levels of diabetes and obesity and a lower life expectancy for our children. Despite these bidding wars, one of our children’s main meals is underfunded. Food is coming from far away and costing more than local food solutions. What school districts don’t realize is the huge buying power they have. This influence cannot be underestimated in changing school lunch.

In addition to policy, food is becoming essential to curriculum. One teacher is using food as a vehicle to teach multiple subjects from math and science to English and Spanish. School gardens are focused on in this film as a fun learning source. In making their own food, kids are eating better too! The filmmakers have taken the benefits of what they learned about gardening at schools to creating a foundation and mounting a campaign for placing growing units in classrooms.

FFFTitle_blogWith schools in the process of removing kitchens, healthy meals not happy meals are a continuing battle in our communities. How to help? Parent participation is key. We have a responsibility to change the way we feed our children. Change is possible. What are you doing to promote change in your school lunchroom? Watch LUNCH and find out more at www.lunchthefilm.com

For Kids:

Watch for Dylan’s Lunchbox episodes this summer. 15-year old food critic visits New York’s local, sustainable, and organic restaurants. Check back for future video of our interview with Avis and her son, Dylan.

Parent Earth Blog:

Children’s health focus of Aspen event, film

AspenTimesA free screening of the short documentary film “Lunch” and a presentation by school lunch expert Dr. James Hill will take place Thursday in Aspen.

ASPEN — School lunch and childhood obesity is a hot topic these days, with everyone from First Lady Michelle Obama and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver touting the need for change.

Here in the Roaring Fork Valley, change is already afoot thanks to the Children’s Health Foundation (CHF). Through its Lunch for Life program, the Aspen-based nonprofit organization has affected the eating habits of some 75,000 schoolchildren across Colorado.

Locally, CHF has helped schools in the Aspen, Roaring Fork, Garfield and Montrose school districts revamp their lunch programs by analyzing what was being served, suggesting healthy alternatives, and providing a sort of “culinary boot camp” for kitchen staffs to learn how to cook from scratch and eliminate processed foods. “Our basic tenet is that you can make a change and you can make a difference,” said Mardell Burkholder, executive director of the Children’s Health Foundation. “But you need the tools to do it. Oftentimes, those providing lunch for our children don’t know what to do; they don’t know how to cook healthy.

“They’ve been opening up boxes and just heating stuff up for so long they can’t imagine another way of doing things.”

But there are plenty of other ways to serve up school lunch, and just as many reasons why it is important to make the change. Thursday at Paepcke Auditorium, Aspenites will get the chance to learn more at a CHF special event, “Appetite for Change.” The evening features a screening of the short documentary film “Lunch” and a presentation by school lunch expert Dr. James Hill.

“One of the things we decided to do this year is to educate people locally about who we are and the importance of changing school lunch programs,” explained Burkholder, noting that even in Aspen, where kids are generally healthy and active, there is room for improvement. “We see these kids who look really fit and athletic, but they’re also eating fried foods and fast foods, and those will have an effect on their health — now and down the road.”

LunchThat fast-food culture is exactly what “Lunch” addresses: “As nationwide funding for school cafeterias rapidly decreases and high-calorie, low-nutrient meals have become order of the day, our nation’s children are being afflicted by a slew of diet-based diseases from high-blood pressure and cholesterol to diabetes and obesity. In ‘Lunch,’ a revealing documentary short, director Avis Richards investigates the causes and the consequences of ‘growing up in a junk-food culture,’” states the film’s press materials.

“Lunch” gets its message across through interviews with food workers, doctors, educators and students. It also explores alternatives to the “hamburger hegemony,” talking with farmers and other community leaders about their efforts to put locally grown, whole foods back on school lunch menus.

The message will be further driven home in a presentation by Dr. James Hill following the film. Hill is a CHF board member and expert in children’s nutrition and the school lunch issue. According to Burkholder, Hill “was focused on the importance of healthy school lunches long before it was the thing to do or to talk about.” “Our hope is that ‘Appetite for Change’ will bring these issues to the forefront locally, and in turn, across the state,” said Burkholder. “Because the school lunch issue is one we cannot afford to ignore.”

“Appetite for Change” is at 6 p.m. at Paepcke Auditorium. The event includes a special screening of “LUNCH The Film,” followed by a presentation by Dr. James Hill, executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado Denver. Light appetizers will be served. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. For more information, contact the Children’s Health Foundation at 920-4750 or visit www.childrenshealthfoundation.net.

Aspen Times




About Stacey Griffith

  Stacey brings us her strong, sexy SOUL from Los Angeles where she was a premier spin instructor and celebrity trainer. Stacey combines dancing, athleticism, mind-blowing music and spirituality to her unique SoulCycle® full-body workout.
She studied Ashtanga Yoga with Sri Pattabi Joyce in India, walked across 12-feet of hot coals as a guest of Anthony Robbins, and was one of Schwinn Cyclings’ first Master Instructors. Stacey has inspired a loyal cult-like following over the years including celebrity clients Nicole Kidman, Jody Foster, Brooke Shields and Katie Lee Joel. Stacey recently became the Fitness Expert for Brooke Shields Colgate Total Healthy Upgrade team (http://blogs.singlemindedwo men.com/?p=370). Stacey resides in New York City with her family and three dogs.
About Gwen Lawrence

  Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com.
Gwen’s unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy, and nutrition, provide her clients and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, New York Rangers, several major college teams, including Yale and UNC, and many youth teams in a variety of sports. She is also the official spokesperson for AFRIN PureSea, an ambassador for Lululemon and Manduka, and her writing appears in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Fitness Magazine and shape.com, espn.com. She has made appearances on NBC TODAY show and many TV news and national radio shows. Gwen also owns her own Yoga School where she trains people to teach the Power Yoga for Sports system. She was just named to 2010 Westchester’s Best List. Gwen lives in the New York tri-state area with her husband and three teenage boys. You can find out more about Gwen by visiting www.poweryogaforbaseball.com and www.yogawithgwen.com.
About Nicole Parker

  Nicole is as adept at portraying strong sexy women as she is at playing vulnerable and complicated characters. She is best known for her outstanding performance as ‘Teri Joseph’ of Showtime’s award winning original series “Soul Food” and has displayed her acting range in several blockbuster and independent films.
She most recently starred in the new ABC drama series “The Deep End” where she played Susan Oppenheim, a partner at Sterling, who prides herself on her “take-no-prisoners” attitude. She just wrapped the indie comedy 35 and Ticking directd by Russ Parr. Last year, Nicole starred opposite Eddie Murphy in Paramount Pictures’ “Imagine That” and will next appear with Rockmond Dunbar in “Pastor Brown.” She has been featured in Touchstone Picture’s “Remember the Titans,” “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins” with Martin Lawrence, “Boogie Nights” with Mark Wahlberg, the HBO Original Film, “Dancing in September” and opposite Taye Diggs in Fox Searchlight’s “Brown Sugar.” 

She has also been featured in many independent films like “200 Cigarettes,” Shooting Gallery’s “Loving Jezebel,” “Subway Stories,” and “Sebastian Cole,” a winner at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival. 

Nicole has an extensive background in theatre, having performed in incredible Off-Broadway productions like “Chicago,” “House of Lear,” and “Romeo and Juliet.” She also appeared in the television movies “The Loretta Claiborne Story,” “Exiled,” and “Mind Prey.” 

Nicole always knew she wanted to be an actress. She began pursuing her dream at the Baltimore Actors Theatre and then it was on to Washington Ballet Company before moving to New York to study further at New York University. She is a graduate of NYU’s famed Tisch School of the Arts. 

Nicole has been nominated for seven NAACP Image Awards and had the pleasure of presenting President Bill Clinton with a Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony hosted by the NAACP. She also received a special award at the Urban World Film Festival, for Outstanding Body of Work as an Actress. 

Nicole also starred alongside former “Soul Food” co-star and real life spouse, Boris Kodjoe in the Paramount/UPN sit-com “Second Time Around.” Nicole and Boris have raised the bar of the Hollywood power couple. By putting love and family first, they are inspiring millions. 

In January 2009, she was featured in People Magazine to introduce Sophie’s Voice Foundation (www.sophiesvoicefoundation.org), the charitable organization she started with husband Boris to raise awareness about children and adults living with spina bifida.

About Avis Richards

  Avis Gold Richards is the Founder and CEO of Birds Nest Foundation™, a 501(c)3 non-profit creative group that produces high-quality documentaries, short videos and public service announcements (PSAs) for charitable organizations.
An award-winning executive producer and director, Avis has produced and directed over 50 films and multiple websites and events. The goal of Birds Nest Foundation is to provide the media to educate and promote important causes and issues that enable non-profits and other foundations to communicate their messages through “moving pictures.” Avis has won more than a dozen Stevie Awards, Telly Awards, Davey Awards, and Aurora Awards for producing non-profit films and videos. 

The charities that benefit from Avis’ work include a host of worthy causes dedicated to improving healthcare and education, serving inner-city youth, protecting against domestic violence, promoting human rights, and defending the environment. 

Avis is on the Board of Directors for HELP USA (homes for the homeless and less fortunate), Sophie’s Voice (Spina Bifida), Bat for the Cure (prostate cancer), Earth Day Network (the environment), and the R Baby Foundation (infant mortality). Avis is a member of the Advisory Board of Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation (domestic violence), Cancer Schmancer (breast cancer early detection), and Mobile Movement (mobile philanthropy). Avis is a “Game Ball” recipient for the Boomer Esiason Foundation (Cystic Fibrosis), a Peloton Project member for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (cancer), and served as an Excalibur award member for the American Cancer Society for which she was also the Gala Event Chair. Avis was a founding member of Gilda’s Club (cancer support), for which she developed and chaired the Young Committee Members’ Gala. 

Avis is on the Advisory Board of, and a content provider for, HUM News, which was first incorporated as Human Unlimited Media (a non-profit), that expanded into the for-profit realm with Human Media. Avis sits on the Advisory Board of Renu Mobile, a corporation dedicated to creative mobile applications with minimal environmental footprint and maximum global reach. Avis is an Ambassador for Bicycle for a Day, and environment and health initiative founded by actor Matthew Modine; and was previously involved in promoting Westchester Medical Center Children’s Hospital, Auschwitz Jewish Center, Whitby School and St. Phillip’s Academy. Avis is an active alumnus of the University of Maryland and in 2010 was honored by the University with its Non-profit Industry Impact Award. 

Avis is currently producing a public television series entitled “Lunch NYC” for NYC Media, part of the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting, after the successful launch of her short documentary, LUNCH, which was sponsored in part by Earth Day Network. The documentary, screened at film festivals across the United States, has distribution rights in Whole Foods Markets. The series exposes unhealthy foods being served in the public school system across the country and highlights the efforts of individuals actively seeking alternatives to promote nutrition and health. 

Avis is a graduate of the University of Maryland where she earned her B.S. degree. She pursued her post-graduate studies at George Washington University and Bank Street College of Education. Avis lives with her husband, two children, and three dogs and in New York City.

About Dylan Richards

  Dylan Richards is a highly-visible food critic who spends countless hours travelling throughout the five boroughs of New York City evaluating restaurants and eateries to assess the quality, ingredients, and taste of food while noting the ambiance and cleanliness of the establishment. Dylan has begun to document his findings for the series currently in production entitled “LunchNYC.”
“LunchNYC” is a documentary-style television show that addresses the poor food quality that school children are submitted to as the incidence of obesity and health issues have taken on national urgency. Lunch and Dylan travel beyond the school cafeteria to farms, supermarkets, culinary institutes and food establishments to discover the pleasure and progress associated with a healthily lifestyle, while exposing the stark reality of poor food quality that far too many school children (and adults) are subjected to. Dylan, age 14 is a 9th grade student at Columbia Preparatory School in Manhattan. Dylan studies math, science, English history and Chinese at Columbia Prep and is actively involved in community service. Dylan’s love for sports is evident as he is both an active participant and fan for his local NY-based teams (Yankees, Giants, and Knicks). Dylan plays baseball for his school team, and in his most recent season was the captain and starting short-stop at Columbia Prep for his 7-th & 8th Grade team. Dylan has appeared in other short films in recent years with a focus on health-related issues, and has starred in a short-film intended to increase prostate cancer awareness. Dylan enjoys exploring the world and has travelled throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Dylan lives with his mother, father, and sister and man’s best friends (three dogs: Snowball, Sparkles, and Simba).

‘Tis The Season of Giving


‘Tis The Season of Giving


Aloha!"The Beach Tree" in Kona.

This is the first of our CSR Cooperative “Philanthropic Travel” posts – it was shared with me by Avis Richards on location in Hawaii as I am literally “snowed in” in New York City!

‘Tis the week before New Years and all through the house not a creature is stirring not even a mouse. My stockings are hung by the chimney with care while visions of philanthropy dance through the air.

Over 5,000 miles from the streets of NYC, reflecting on the tropical shores of Hawaii, I know the holiday spirit of giving is alive. My day starts with a quick workout in the gym. As the treadmill spins I surf my favorite news networks: on CNN, Alina Cho’s special broadcast of BIG STARS, BIG GIVING previews before tonight’s airing; HLN, the local news, reports on “The Season Of Giving.” One last click on the remote and I land on MSNBC, today’s story, “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Giving.”

A 2011 Mashable Top 5 "most creative social good campaign'

A 2011 Mashable Top 5 “most creative social good campaign’
Photo credit:  
The Mixx 


Now that my workout is over I scurry over to the resort’s shop for some last minute holidaygifts. To my delight I am able to buy some gifts that keep on giving. James Perse T-shirts for the guys. What I love about this company is their recycling campaign, What Comes Around Goes Around. Donate an old James Perse T-shirt for store credit, the T-shirts are then re-conditioned, re-dyed and donated to homeless men, women and children.

I hit the jackpot finding gifts for the girls. There are beautiful handmade bags from Africa by a company called Global Girls that provides micro-financing opportunities for women. I also discover beautiful cover-ups for the beach by LemLem. Super model/ actress and World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal Newborn and Child Health, Liya Kebede, discovered traditional weavers in her home country of Ethiopia were losing their jobs. Because of this, Liya was inspired to start Lemlem in 2007 as a way to inspire economic independence in her native country as well as to preserve the art of weaving. My favorite gift of the day is created by a young jewelry maker from the West Coast who’s family has a home on the Big Island. Jordan Sholem is a beautiful 17 year old high school senior who was just accepted into college. Her inspiration for the bracelets comes from Hawaii, where she grew up with her family, friends and “O”hana (beloved neighbors). She felt she needed to do something when the recession hit hard on the Big Island. Many people lost their jobs and had to move away. So with her own personal savings she invested in some small diamond charms and beads to make bracelets. Her bracelets are made from ebony wood, coconut wood, coral, turquoise and freshwater pearls. She donates 100% of her profits to the Hualalai O’hana Foundation (www.hualalaiohanafoundation.org). Their dollars help send Hawaiian kids to college and graduate school and provide health care for those in need. Donations also support the North Hawaii Community Hospital. The bracelets make the perfect mother-daughter gifts. I can’t resist.

Finally I grab my paper and head to the beach. Time to catch up on my daily reading. In the New York Times I catch up with the story on my friend Arden Wohl, who found time during this busy Holiday season to host a party at the Little Cupcake Bake shop in Nolita to raise awareness for the Endangered Species Coalition.

The next article I read is on the joy of second hand giving. Highlighting a lot of fun ways to recycle and fund-raise for gifts.

After sifting through the market details and the news on the 28 month high on Soybeans in The Wall Street Journal I turn to my favorite op-ed to read about the Tea Partiers and the Spirit Of Giving.

As the New Year begins I give thanks knowing our country is filled with caring loving people who give back when their able so that others have hope.

A Happy New Year to all and to all a goodnight.

Our CSR Cooperative theme for 2011 is please “choose” wisely and you CAN make a difference!

Take a look at the following story we did this month calledhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/judy-shapiro/a-marketers-moment-of-sha_b_798730.htmlfor more on this! We will be launching a celebrity driven social media campiagn around it in Jan 2011!


The Audacious Dreams of “Judy Consumer” to Find a Cure

Avis_Richards_TheExaminerIt is circa 1970 and a couple in New York learns the difficult news that their young son had Type 1 Diabetes. Wanting the best for their son – this couple did not just take their son to doctors and hospitals for treatment. They simply could not – would not – accept the status quo. They decided to cast aside reasonableness and have an audacious dream. They, along with other parents whose children were diagnosed, audaciously decided to do what they could to find a cure. These were not doctors or health care professionals or people who ran big companies. But these were regular “Judy and Joe Consumers” who believed in their audacious dream nonetheless. That is how the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) started 40 years ago by moms like Lee Ducat and Carol Lurie. Then, along with other parents like Mort and Ellen Silver, these audaciously ordinary people put a practical plan in place to back up their audacious dream and the Promise Ball was created 38 years ago to help find a cure by funding a cure.

From that humble, yet audacious start – the extraordinary happened and the Promise Ball alone has raised an astonishing $55 Million over 38 years to support research to find a cure for diabetes. And the effort is yielding important results since leading experts like Dr. Camillo Ricordi, the Chief Academic Officer of the University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute, believe a cure is within tantalizingly within reach. Now the next generation of audacious dreamers is continuing the tradition. This year’s Promise Ball, to be held on November 13, is being hosted by Tom and Natasha Silver (yup – Tom is Mort and Ellen’s son) for the New York Chapter Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Their second year as chair, Tom and Natasha devote their time and energy selflessly to get the job done. And their efforts paid off handsomely since last year’s event alone raised an amazing $1.9 Million. This is an accomplishment that is borne of (wait for it) audaciousness. Yet, despite all this extraordinary progress, a perverse trend is playing itself out. On the one hand, medical advances permit us imagine a world free of Type 1 Diabetes (where the auto immune systems do not function properly), yet disturbingly, diabetes is still on the rise – driven by an sharp increase in the incidence of adult-onset diabetes (Type 2)over the last ten years. Type 2 diabetes is much more influenced by environmental factors like bad nutrition, so when we look at the stats that describe the scope, it can be discouraging: Nearly 24 million American have diabetes; about 8% of the population:

o 18 Million diagnosed and 6 Million undiagnosed
o As many as 3 Million have Type 1 diabetes
Worse, over the decade, the rate of incidence increased by 50% from 16MM in 2000 to 24 MM today (*sigh*) o Worldwide, the disease affects 285 Million and is expected to reach epic proportions by 2030 of 435 Million people
CDC figures reports the significant health issues (like diabetes) resulting from obesitysince 1 in every 3 adults is obese and almost 1 in 5 youth between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese.
Most sadly, a new case of diabetes is diagnosed every 30 seconds; more than 1.6 million people each year. o In New York where the Promise Ball first took hold, there are an estimated 1,127,000 diagnosed and 451,000 undiagnosed people with diabetes.
o Most staggeringly, the annual direct and indirect cost of diabetes in New York alone is $11.8 billion (insert “gasp” here)!

Holding_dads_hand_1It takes no small amount of audacity (or Chutzpah in Yiddish) not to get discouraged. But just like the Luries and the Silvers a generation ago, the audacious dreamers keep rising to take up the baton. While Tom and Natasha Silver focus their energy on the diagnostic aspect of the disease, a woman with another type of audacious dream is stepping into help on the “prevention” side of the equation. Her name is Avis Richards and, taking a cue from seeing how her son ate at school, she realized that often healthful eating is not a topic explored with intelligence in the media. She also understood that healthful eating is a cornerstone to preventing many diseases including diabetes. Her audacious dream, therefore, was to fill this information void. She decided to leverage the foundation she created, Birds Nest Foundation – a 501(c)3 non-profit creativegroup that produces high-quality documentaries, short videos and public service announcements (PSAs) for charities,to tell story of how good nutrition has benefits that scan a wide range of areas. As an award-winning producer and director with over 50 films, websites and events to her credit, Avis set about the task of creating and producing a 12 episode series called LUNCH, devoted to communicating the importance of proper nutrition at home, on the go and even in our institutions – like schools. Upcoming episodes cover topics like: “Updating the Diet”, “Good Food Quickly” and “The Cafeteria Challenge” (airing 10/28, 11/4 and 12/9 respectively) and will air on NYC Media – NYC’s public service station.

Here are just two examples of people who dared to have audacious dreams. They dared to believe that they could make a difference and change what needed to change. The Promise Ball celebrates its 38th year of being audacious and this year’s event on November 13 promises to live up to its “audacious” reputation. Birds Nest Foundation continues to provide a voice for causes that cannot rise above the day-to-day din that can drown out the quieter sounds of need.

Come along with us on this audacious journey. Lee, Carol, Tom, Natasha and Avis welcome the company. Learn more about the Promise Ball and JDRF and check out LUNCH at NYC Media.