King County’s Food Day mission focuses on affordability, sustainability

October 21, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 21, 2011

In King County, Food Day is about bringing together parents, teachers, students, health professionals, chefs, school lunch providers and others to advocate for affordable and sustainable foods.

Food Day is Oct. 24, and King County health officials plan a series of events to highlight local foods, access to healthy foods and childhood-obesity prevention.

“Local organizations, schools, leaders and residents are mobilizing for Food Day to expand access to healthy food and curb access to junk food,” Dr. David Fleming, Public Health – Seattle & King County director and health officer, and a Food Day national advisory board member, said in a statement. “We are aiming for long-term improvements so all of our residents have access to healthy options and ultimately good health.”

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King County OKs rainwater as sole drinking water source

July 26, 2011

King County residents can now rely on cloudbursts as a thirst quencher.

On July 21, the county Board of Health approved a measure to allow rainwater captured from roofs as the sole residential water source for single-family homes on septic systems. Under older rules, rainwater could only be used as a supplemental source.

The board acted in response to residents interested in building eco-conscious homes.

Kathy Lambert, a board member and Issaquah’s representative on the King County Council, proposed adding rainwater-catchment systems as a tool for another water source.

“Extending public water lines or digging a well are not always available or feasible in rural and rugged areas of King County, or they can be so expensive to install that they render a lot unbuildable,” she said in a statement. “The ability to utilize rainwater will be a particular advantage in mountainous areas of the county with terrain and soil conditions that make it difficult to site a well and on-site sewage system that do not interfere with each other.”

The code change follows recent action by the state Department of Ecology to remove permit requirements for rainwater harvesting.

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King County OKs rainwater as sole drinking water source

July 22, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. July 22, 2011

King County residents can now rely on cloudbursts as a thirst quencher.

On Thursday, the county Board of Health approved a measure to allow rainwater captured from roofs as the sole residential water source for single-family homes on septic systems. Under older rules, rainwater could only be used as a supplemental source.

The board acted in response to residents interested in building eco-conscious homes.

Kathy Lambert, a board member and Issaquah’s representative on the King County Council, proposed adding rainwater-catchment systems as a tool for another water source.

“Extending public water lines or digging a well are not always available or feasible in rural and rugged areas of King County, or they can be so expensive to install that they render a lot unbuildable,” she said in a statement. “The ability to utilize rainwater will be a particular advantage in mountainous areas of the county with terrain and soil conditions that make it difficult to site a well and on-site sewage system that do not interfere with each other.”

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Board of Health calls for healthier vending machine fare

May 17, 2011

Healthier options could start appearing in vending machines throughout King County due to guidelines the county Board of Health adopted last month.

The voluntary guidelines divvy foods and beverages into categories of healthier items and items that people should consume on a limited basis. The goal is to support businesses, community organizations and local governments interested in offering more options and healthier snacks.

Obesity and poor nutrition pose serious problems in King County. More than half of adults and almost one-third of youths qualify as overweight or obese.

In addition, fewer than one-third of adults and youths report consuming enough fruits and vegetables daily, and one-third of youths report consuming one or more sodas per day.

The guidelines include examples of food and beverages for all of the categories, as well as appropriate levels of calories, fat, sugar and sodium. The board used the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 and selected food types — fruits, whole grains, etc. — rather than simply using calories, fat, sodium and sugar for identifying healthy options.

“The healthy choice is the easy choice when good, nutritious foods are available,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a press release.

The board adopted the guidelines in a unanimous decision April 21. Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger serves as a board member.

Board of Health calls for healthier vending machine fare

April 25, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. April 25, 2011

Healthier options could start appearing in vending machines throughout King County, due to guidelines the county Board of Health adopted last week.

The voluntary guidelines divvy foods and beverages into categories for healthiest, healthier items that should be limited. The goal is to support businesses, community organizations and local governments interested in offering more options and healthier snacks.

“These voluntary guidelines will help organizations implement a more well-rounded selection of foods,” Board of Health Vice Chairwoman Kathy Lambert, the Issaquah representative on the County Council, said in a release. “This list also can provide guidance in selecting food choices for vending companies as well as for their customers.”

Obesity and poor nutrition pose serious problems in King County. More than half of adults and almost one-third of youth qualify as overweight or obese.

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King County health panel stamps out e-cigarettes

January 18, 2011

King County Board of Health members restricted sales and use of electronic cigarettes last month.

The e-cigarette is a battery-powered device designed to deliver a nicotine-based and flavored liquid vapor.

The board voted unanimously to restrict the sales of e-cigarettes or any other unapproved nicotine delivery devices only to people 18 and older. The board prohibited free or highly discounted electronic smoking devices or unapproved nicotine delivery products. The use of e-cigarette devices in places where smoking is prohibited by law is also banned. Read more

County Council representatives tapped for committee posts

January 18, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. Jan. 18, 2011

Kathy Lambert is the point person on the King County Council for policies related to elections, licensing and more, the council announced Tuesday.

The longtime councilwoman continues as chairwoman of the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee through 2011.

The committee considers policies related to numerous — and sometimes disparate — county services. In addition to elections and licensing, the panel handles animal control, telecommunications, purchasing and wastewater treatment issues. Members also oversee the county Assessor’s Office and Boeing Field.

Lambert represents Issaquah and northeastern King County on the council.

Councilman Reagan Dunn, the other Issaquah-area representative, also serves on the committee.

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County Council succumbs to red-blue divide in health care debate

May 25, 2010

The nonpartisan King County Council cracked along partisan lines, as members praised national health care reform in a narrow decision.

The symbolic measure supports the implementation federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in March. The council adopted the legislation in a split decision. Democrats on the nine-member council backed the measure; Republicans dissented.

“It is time to reform our health care system,” Chairman Bob Ferguson, the prime sponsor of the legislation and a Democrat, said in a statement after the May 10 decision. “The health care act isn’t perfect, but it will help provide access to basic health care for the more than 150,000 King County residents who are currently uninsured.”

The council decision follows a resolution passed by the King County Board of Health last year urging Congress to enact health care reform. Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger serves on the Board of Health.

Republican council members — Jane Hague, Pete Von Reichbauer and Issaquah-area representatives Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn — blasted the decision.

“I am concerned that the health care legislation recently passed by Congress is not fiscally sound,” Lambert said in a statement. “The health care services begin several years after the new taxes start, so it funds about six years of service over the first decade of tax collection.”

The dissenters noted a $60 million county spending gap, and said nonpartisan reports showed the federal legislation could cost the county $18 million to $34 million.

King County voters approved a measure in November 2008 to make the council, county executive and county assessor offices nonpartisan.

County Council succumbs to red-blue divide in health care debate

May 12, 2010

NEW — 7:11 a.m. May 12, 2010

The nonpartisan King County Council cracked along partisan lines Monday, as members praised national health care reform in a narrow decision.

The symbolic measure supports the implementation of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in March. The council adopted the legislation in a split decision. Democrats on the nine-member council backed the measure; Republicans dissented.

“It is time to reform our health care system,” Chairman Bob Ferguson, the prime sponsor of the legislation and a Democrat, said in a statement after the May 10 decision. “The health care act isn’t perfect, but it will help provide access to basic health care for the more than 150,000 King County residents who are currently uninsured.”

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Reversing lunch, recess helps students learn better

September 19, 2008

Recess before lunch?

The concept certainly puzzled many students at Cascade Ridge Elementary School when they were released for recess before eating their lunch Sept. 3.

“It’s different,” said fourth-grader Cameron Tingy. “But we’ll get used to it.”

The program has been running smoothly, according to Principal Colleen Shields.

“So far, it has been really positive,” she said. “We know how important learning is and to learn well, you have to eat well. The kids come from the lunchroom with fresh minds and full stomachs, instead of having recess issues and low blood sugar, which drops 30 minutes into class because they scarfed down their lunch.”

But Shields said she doesn’t deserve all the credit.

“This really came and was driven by the entire staff,” she said.

The school’s staff instituted the program after studying new research from Montana State University, the Missoula City-County Health Department, the King County Board of Health and Action for Healthy Kids Washington, after staff member Demetra Trull put an article about the program in their school mailboxes.

The studies showed students eat more, waste less and show improved focus in the classroom by having recess before lunch.

Armed with new knowledge, Shields and her staff sat down to talk about the different benefits and concerns with the program. They mainly acknowledged the benefits the studies pointed to.

“When lunch is first, some of them eat lunch, but most of them zoom through it to get to recess as fast as possible,” said fourth-grade teacher Elaine Fritsch. “If I had a fourth-grader, I wouldn’t want them to be running around outside with a half-swallowed sandwich in their stomach. So, from a digestive standpoint, it is good.”

Cascade Ridge isn’t the only school in the district to have the program. Newcastle Elementary School has been doing the program since the school opened, about five years.

“We have maximized our learning time by having students eat after recess,” Christy Otley, Newcastle’s principal, wrote in an e-mail. “If there are any recess issues, the opportunity to have them resolved during lunch tends to happen, rather than recess issues slipping into the classroom.

“We have also noticed that students tend to eat better and slower, and along with that, the students tend to eat most of their lunch,” she added. The amount of wasted food has decreased.”

Briarwood Elementary School is also starting the program this year.

Two major concerns were how to avoid congestion and keep organization in the lunchroom, and make sure students could wash their hands before eating, Shields said.

In response, teachers and Shields developed a system for students to enter the cafeteria by grade level, and by those who were purchasing a school lunch and those who had brought their lunch.

They also solved their hand washing by placing large antibacterial dispensers at each of the entrances. Before they can grab their lunches, students have to use the hand sanitizer or wash their hands in the bathroom.

So far, the results are impressive.

“They used to come in and you spent a lot of time hearing about all the recess issues and tattling,” said first-grade teacher Cindi Pacecca.

“We haven’t heard a single recess issue since we started,” said her colleague Jenna Thoresen.

“I find that I’m now planning to do math right after lunch,” added fourth-grade teacher Kristin Page. “I used to plan silent or group reading to wind them down, but now they come in much more calm and I can jump into math.”

Reactions are mixed among the student body.

“I like it,” said fifth-grader Jake Cowan. “I’m much hungrier for lunch.”

“I’m the first one every day, because I’m so hungry,” said Jeremy Bradford.

“We used to be able to eat our lunch slower, because we could use some of our recess time,” said fourth-grader Emily Welch. “But now we have to rush through it.”

“It will take some getting used to,” fourth-grader Katie Mangold said.

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com.

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