Tag Archives: community

Come to the Table – Promedica Presents – Hunger Is A Health Issue – Part 2

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This week at the Come to the Table Promedica Workshop at the Jimmy Carter Center in Atlanta, GA, I had a chance to listen to the panel discussion on what is working and what we need to work on  in the fight against hunger.

Harriet Giles, PHD, Managing Director from Auburn Hunger Solutions Institute and Director of External Relations, College of Human Sciences Auburn University – discuss about the Alabama model delivery trucks for the Summer Children’s Program which provides healthy meals for children during the summer months when school is closed.

Susan Respess – Auburn Hunger Solutions Institute and Vice President of Government Relations of Children’s of Alabama – talked about medical compliance relationship with kids access to food in order to take their medications.

Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling, PHD, MPA – Senior Adviser, Hunger Impact of AARP Foundation – discussed that the revised version of the My Plate has been very effective in the fight against hunger.  Ms. Lewin-Zwerdling did said what is not effective is that alot of the  50+ years older adult population are having a lack of money,  poor locations and availability to healthy foods.  This population group are usually tremendous effected by the food deserts in their communities.

Duke Storen, Senior Director, Research, Advocacy and Partner Development of Share Our Strength explained that 1 in 5 children have fallen into the category of food insecurity.  What is working to fight hunger is the school breakfast program, WIC, food skill education programs from individual grants and SNAP for low income children. What is not working is less participation in SNAP program.  What could work better is the benefits and funding levels of the SNAP program needs to increase particularly for the out of school time such as after school programs, weekends and summertime.  Mr. Duke Storen explained that there is more poverty is in the suburbs than in the inner cities.  Mr. Duke Storen gave us a Five Points Plan that will assist with eliminating hunger.

5 Points Plan

  1. Screening
  2. Direct Services – Ex. WIC
  3. Leadership
  4. Metric Driven Based Program
  5. Funding
  6. Advocacy

Debbie Britt – Board Member of the Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) and Executive Director Community & Public Relations, Piedmont Fayette Hospital explained what is working is the collaboration with the communities with transportation issues to healthier supermarkets, helping the community with changing their lifestyle and having physical exercise programs at Senior Centers such as Zumba and providing Meals on Wheels programs.  Ms. Britt did explained what is not working is that hospital not understanding the importance of learning about nutrition and that Medicaid does not pay for nutritional services.

At the end of the workshop, Mike Beier from President and CEO, ContXt, gave us a  Engaging the Community to End Hunger:  Meeting in  a Box  Dialogue game where you can have a engaging group discussion about ways that the community can end hunger.  I can not wait to use this with my clients and community leaders. This one day workshop was a excellent event and hopefully we will have more voices who are willing to fight against hunger  and make it a health issue!

Come to the Table – Promedica Presents – Hunger Is A Health Issue – Part 1

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I had the excellent opportunity to come to the incredible 2nd annual Regional Summit Workshop on Hunger that was presented by Promedia and the Alliance for Hunger.  This workshop was held at the beautiful grounds of the Jimmy Carter Center in Atlanta, GA.  The workshop started off with Barbara Petee who is the Chief Advocacy and Government Relations Officer of Promedia.  She discussed about how obesity ties in with hunger and that hunger is a public health and moral issue.  She stated that the only way to find a solution to end hunger is to address it.

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Next came Lee Hammerling, MD works with Promedia as the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Physician Executive of Promedia.   Dr. Hammerling discussed about Promedia which is a community based, mission driven, non-for-profit business that is employee strategically focused and fiscally sound.  Promedia’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve.   Dr. Hammerling also discussed about public healthcare where the annual cost of hunger to every U.S. citizen is on pace to b e a rough amount of $42,400 per citizen over a course of a lifetime.  The overall cost of hunger to our nation’s amount to be at least $167,5 Billion.  Promedia believes that the healthcare system should take a leadership role – clinically, socially and economically. Dr. Hammerling spoke about how remission key risk factors and social determinants can impact a person’s health. Lack of transportation + lack of food = remission to hospital.

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Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service(FNS), U.S. Department of Agriculture spoke about the FNS Consumer Service mission to end hunger and improve nutrition in America.  She also explained about food insecurities that in about 360,000 households that 1 to more children simply do not get enough to eat.  This is the Healthy people 2020 ten year focus on economic cost, hunger cost and health disparities. Programs that have been fighting hunger for children are the  SNAP(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) which has been in existence for 50 years and WIC (Women, Infant and Children) which has been in existence for 40 years.  SNAP consist of the Commodity Food Assistance program,  Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and Health Incentives.  There is also the FINI (Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant Program) which supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase such as Farmer’s Markets and mobile markets.

Next week, I will discuss about the Panel Discussion on what is working and what is not working with the fight for eliminating hunger.

Food Day 2014

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October 24th, 2014 is a very special day.  You are probably asking why is this day so important?  It is Food Day which is a day to inspire Americans to change their diets and an push to improve our food policies.  This year’s Food Day will have a special focus on food access and justice for food and farm workers.

This annual event involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.

The typical American diet is contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. Those problems cost Americans more than $150 billion per year. Plus, a meat-heavy diet takes a terrible toll on the environment.

Eating Real can save your own health and put our food system on a more humane, sustainable path. With America’s resources, there’s no excuse for hunger, low wages for food and farm workers, or inhumane conditions for farm animals.  – quote from Foodday.org

So how can you get involved?  Use this positive movement around Food Day by introducing healthier foods into your diet. Ask your employer to start announcing an office wellness policy or participate in a community supported agriculture program. Or, introduce cooking lessons in your school or start planting a vegetable garden.

I am going to join the Food Day social media pages to spread the word about the importance of start a new food movement!  Let me know what you would like to do in your community on this Food Day!  Check out the Food Day 2014 website for further information – http://www.foodday.org/

Hanging Out at the Atlanta Farmer’s Market

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Now, I must admit that I have not been to the Atlanta Farmer’s Market in Clayton County, Georgia in a very long time and I have no excuses for not going.  This open air market is incredible with all of the seasonal varieties of fresh fruits, vegetables and homemade goods directly from the Georgia Farmer’s themselves.  No Middlemen here in this market.  You are negotiating your business with the growers themselves.  Now that is part of sustainable living.  So much to choose from that I did not know where to start!

First, I have to eat some lunch before my market shopping spree.  My group of 4H’s and Master Gardeners from Douglas County decided to stop at a local popular Southern cuisine restaurant called Oakwood Cafe.  All of the dishes are homemade daily, using the freshest ingredients available from the Farmer’s produce at the market.  Boy, my lunch meal with grilled tilapia fish was delicious and all of the veggies were fresh and good.  The interesting thing about this restaurant is their values and mission.  Oakwood Restaurant’s mission is to be a community meeting and eating place serving fresh, homemade breakfast, lunch and dinner in a family restaurant with the utmost purpose: to glorify God. this restaurant is closed on Sunday is one of the ways that the Oakwood Cafe locations is to honor God.

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After fulling my stomach, I decided to walk with the group around the 150 acres, of the Atlanta Farmer’s Market. This market is considered one of the largest of its kind in the world. It features a garden center, wholesale and retail activities, and is a major marketing hub and distribution point for fresh produce in the Southeast and throughout the country. This Market is also very convenient and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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It is so important to buy locally so while I was at the market I was able to purchase pure raw honey, fresh tasty tomatoes and fresh carrots at a very cheap price.  Click here to see pictures from the Atlanta Farmer’s Market.  If you have a Farmer’s Market near your home make sure you invest your money in helping your local farmer.  If you do not have one then start up one with your local farmers.  You will not only help yourself but you will also help your community as well.

Touring the Atlanta Community Food Bank

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I was truly excited that I had the chance of touring the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  The Atlanta Community Food Bank has been founded in 1979 and it has procures over 45 million pounds of food and groceries each year and distributes it to more than 600 nonprofit partner agencies serving families and individuals in 29 metro Atlanta and north Georgia counties.  Here is some background information about the Atlanta Community Food Bank below:

Atlanta Community Food Bank utilizes more than 1,000 volunteers a month, over 100 staff members, a large fleet of trucks and a 129,000 square-foot facility to procure and distribute food and grocery items received from hundreds of donors. Our donors include manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, brokers, restaurants, food drives, gardens and individuals. The product is easily accessed by our partner agencies. They place their orders online and arrange for pick up or delivery. Once the food arrives at the agency, it is provided to families and individuals in need.

The mission of the Atlanta Community Food Bank is to fight hunger by engaging, educating and empowering our community. While our core work is food distribution, our efforts extend far beyond that. Our mission is lived out every day through seven projects that help engage, educate and empower both people in need and those who want to help. From supporting community gardens to assisting people in finding economic security, ACFB covers a wide range of opportunities for people to learn and get involved. Our seven projects are Atlanta Prosperity Campaign, Atlanta’s Table, Community Gardens, Hunger 101, Hunger Walk/Run, Kids In Need and Product Rescue Center.

ACFB’s Community Gardens project offers assistance to more than 100 new and existing gardens across metro Atlanta. Volunteers and neighbors come together to grow fresh, healthy food to nourish communities and neighborhoods.

The benefits of Community Gardening are boundless. It stimulates social interaction, beautifies neighborhoods and produces nutritious foods while reducing food budgets. Each garden is a joint effort where friends and neighbors not only share responsibilities, but often the rewards of their harvest as well!

Our tour guide of the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) was Linda Wood and she explained that the new building that the ACFB is in a green living building.  What I saw while begin there that everything was recycled including the outdated donated foods.   There is a machine that ACFB uses called the Digestor which uses special enzymes that break down the food like your own stomach but turns the food into recycle water for the whole building.  Now that is truly green living!!

ACFB also has a very much so up dated with technology that the food client recipients are able to purchase the food online and schedule a time for picking up their food.  Instead of waiting 2 hours they now wait for 15-20 minutes.  Starting in January 2014, ACFB will start a food ranking system in their warehouse where a color coded system will be used to help distribute healthy foods options to all the churches and centers that are involved in the ACFB program.  Currently, ACFB has no nutritional analysis system to let these organizations know which foods are healthy.  ACFB has hired a Registered Dietitian Consultant to assist with making this nutritional analysis system.

An interesting note that for the ACFB clients demands is not so much with food but the highest demand ticket item is Laundry Soap and Diapers!!  So if you want to donate food to the ACFB make sure you add in also these 2 high ticket items to your donation.

Alot of people think that the homeless population is the largest group who come to the ACFB to seek for assistance when it is actually the children who make up about 40% and working families who make up about 36%.  Below are some further statistics from the ACFB:

Over the past three years, the number of Georgia households receiving food stamps has increased by 62%. (Georgia DHR, 2012.)

More than one in every four Georgia children – 28.8% of our children – now live in food insecure households. This is up from 28.3% last year

Nearly 1.8 million Georgians (19.1%) are living in poverty according to the latest US Census Bureau American Community Survey.

In Georgia, the two largest groups that needs assistance is Children – 40% and the Working Poor.

I have really learned alot from this tour at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  I encourage people to get involve with your community especially with the ACFB.  For more information about ACFB – http://www.acfb.org/

Click here for more photos at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Next week, I will discuss about the Atlanta Farmer’s Market.

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Recognizing Jewish Food Cultural Religious Practices

Table Set for Seder

Since today is the last day of September, I would like to reflect on the different diverse cultural religious food practices that had happened this month.  This  month for the Jewish community was Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 4th (sunset) thru Sept 6th (nightfall) ) which is a holiday, recognized in the Jewish New Year.  It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days, and is marked by abstinence, prayer, repentance and rest. During this time on the second day, fruits not yet eaten in the new season are served in tandem with a special blessing.  The first meal is consist of round challah, apples dipped in honey, chicken matzo ball soup, gefilte fish with horseradaish, tsimmes (sweet orange colored mix of vegetables and fruit starting with carrots and adding either sweet potatoes, prunes, pineapple and sugar)  honey cake; apple cake; strudel; nuts.  The second meal: dates, figs, pomegranates, pumpkin, leeks and beets.

Then there was Yom Kippur (Sept 13th (sunset) thru  Sept 14th(nightfall) ) This holiday is the holiest day on the Jewish Calendar and is a day of atonement marked by fasting and ceremonial repentance.  This is a large, festive, high-carbohydrate, low-sodium meal is recommended before a 25-hour fast.  the fast is followed by meat, chicken, or dairy meals. (Choices vary depending on the family’s place of origin).  In America the meal is usually similar to a brunch with bagels, lox, cream cheese, herring and other fish, and sweet kugels (Jewish pudding made from potatoes, eggs, onions and vegetables).

Then last was the Jewish Holiday Sukkot.  The 7-day festival of the Tabernacle is celebrated 5 days after fasting on Yom Kippur.  It is a time of remembrance of the fragile tabernacles that Israelites lived in as they wandered the wilderness for 40 years.  The first day of the holiday is celebrated with prayers and special meats such as Kreplach which is small triangular pieces of dough filled with meat in soup.  The fall harvest is celebrated by eating fruits, vegetables, and sweets in outdoor boothe called sukkot.  Interesting to note that the Pomegranates (also called the Chinese apples) – eaten at this holiday because of the number of pits in each fruit symbolizes the 613 commandments in the Torah.

Alot of this wonderful information about cultural diverse food and nutrition practices were taken from the book of:  Cultural Food Practices – Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Group – Cynthia M. Goody, PhD, MBA, RD and Lorena Drago, MS, RD, CDN, CDE, Editors.  It is truly amazing how much food has such a impact with our own cultural religious practices.

Next week I will be discussing about food and nutrition impact with Hispanic Heritage Month.

Community Service Day – Open Hand

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During these tough economic times, volunteer organization around the country are hurting.  They need money and volunteers who are willing to step up and help their community.  On April 27th. 2013, which is Community Service Day, I became a Task Leader Volunteer for my job  and volunteer at Open Hand in Atlanta, Georgia.

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What is Open Hand?  Open Hand is a strong fixture of the Atlanta Metro community and “they helps people prevent or better manage chronic disease through Comprehensive Nutrition Care™, which combines home-delivered meals and nutrition education as a means to reinforce the connection between informed food choices and improved quality of life.” – quote from the Open Hand Mission Statement.

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It started with Michael Edwards-Pruitt who founded Project Open Hand in 1988, he and a few of his neighbors cooked meals for 14 friends with HIV/AIDS who were too sick to cook for themselves. This labor of love  for the community has continue over 20 years later with a full-time staff, providing nutrition education from licensed dietitians, as many as 700 helping volunteers per week,  preparing and delivering over 5,500 meals a day.  This organization is a very unique non-profit establishment.

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I was so honored to be able to work with my team of volunteers and Team Manager Ms. Tyrone.  Our job for this day was to prepare help nutritious meals for low-income men, women and children who are dealing with a critical, chronic, or terminal disease; and homebound seniors.  We met with the Volunteer Service department staff who sat down and discuss with us the mission and the vision of Open Hand.  The mood at Open Hand kitchen was lively and the staff there was so friendly and positive. Food Safety is strictly enforced based on the clientele that Open Hand is feeding.  There are chefs that work  at Open Hand that were making fresh healthy dietary requirements meals from scratch for the assembly food line. Our group placed the food into a packing assembly line format where we package portioned foods into individual containers and snack bags for distribution.  The assembly line was pretty fast and very organized.  At the end of the 4 hour day of volunteering service, I am so happy to say that we have packaged and send out 2545 meals!  Can you imagine if we volunteered for a 8 hours, how many more meals we would have sent out!

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So make every day a Community Service day!  Volunteer to to make your community a better one!

Gerogia Organics Farm RX Conference

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After finishing all of the wonderful Farm Tours,  I had the opportunity to check out the Georgia Organics Conference itself.  Early that morning I heard the Keynote Speaker Micheal Nischan CEO of Wholesome Wave (www.wholesomewavegeorgia.org )which is dedicated to nourishing neighborhoods by supporting increased production and access to healthy, fresh and affordable locally grown food for the well being of all.  Wholesome Wave use private funds to double the value of food stamps  when they are spent at participating farmers markets and farm stands across the country. Mr. Nishcan is a proponent of sustainable farming, local and regional food systems, and heritage recipes.  He also owns a homegrown restaurant in Westport, Conn, called the Dressing Room.  The Dressing Room is a community gathering place unlike the traditional restaurant.  Mr. Nishcan has long been a leader in the movement to honor local, pure, simple and delicious cooking.  His speech was excellent and very enlightening about the importance of strengthening local food communities.

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Later that afternoon I had a chance t0 sit down and listen to a in-depth workshop seminar.  The one seminar that I found most interesting was the Traditional Healing & Vibrant Health with Herbs and Wisdom Health by Patricia Kyritsi Howell RH (AHG).  She discussed about the five elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine which are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood.   She also talk about the Yin and Yang about the balance  and need of both.  The Yin are tonics type of herbs and the Yang activators herbs.  She explained about the using certain herbs for the Yin and Yang properties.

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After the workshop  seminars the Georgia Organics Expo started to open up .  There were over 70 plus vendor at the expo giving out incredible healthy information.  Some of the vendors were Truly Living Well, The Turnip Truck and AgrAbility.  Truly Living Well (www.trulylivingwell.com) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia that builds communities by providing  healthy food, agricultural education and employment. They grow a variety of natural produce for people throughout Atlanta from urban food deserts to the city’s finest restaurants.  The Turnip Truck (www.turniptruckatlanta.com ) delivers local food such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products and other foods as well as specialty items to Atlanta’s finest restaurants, schools and institutions.  AgrAbility (www.farmagain.com) in Georgia is a free service program that focuses on promoting independence for members of the agricultural community who have disabilities.

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There was a demo stage in the Georgia Organics Expo area where Holistic Health and nutrition counselor Cher McWilliams demonstrated quick and healthy whole food ideas with local, seasonal, organic produce.   Right after this presentation there was a cooking competition between two teams of master chefs.  These teams of master chefs prepared a three-course meal of healthy, local food to the tune and time of “Lynyrd Skynard’s “Free Bird”. Whole foods market , Chipotle, Frannie’s Gluten Free Muffins (www.franniesglutenfree.com) and Mushroom Mountain Pizza gave out free samples of pizza, chili, tacos and muffins which all very delicious and appetite.

So check out the Georgia Organics website:  www.georgiaorganics.org  see about coming to next year Farm RX Conference and check out all of the other events that they have through out the year.  Hope to see you there next year!  Check out the pictures of the Georgia Organics Farm RX Conference. Click Here

Taste of Douglasville in Georgia

Every big city has a chance to showcase their communities businesses, volunteer  and governmental organizations but what the about small towns?  Can they do the same?  Of course they can!  I had the pleasure to attend the Taste of Douglasville where you can get the chance to taste the local flavor!!  This year was bigger and better than ever with the Theme of “Better Living”.  This is the 19th year with the assistance of the Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville, Cobb and Paulding Public Health Department .  The wonderful local paper called the Douglas County Sentinel highlighted this event.

There was 20 restaurants that were featured with a variety of dishes such as Italian, Chinese, Irish, Seafood, Mexican, BBQ and Soul Food.  There was food sampling and full course lunch with certain prices of course.  There were awards that were given to the restaurants for Best New Restaurant, Best Presentation for their booth, Most Sold and one new award, the Better Choice Award for healthy menu items.

The festival had around 40 creative vendors that were selling handmade jewelry, custom-made crochet items, recycled wind chimes, hurricane lanterns, cut and tied fleece blankets, crocheted baby blankets, centerpieces, paper art, 100 percent recycled t-shirts, marionettes, homemade dog treats, hand-embroidered children’s clothes, local cookbooks and many more creative works.  There was demonstrations participation such as pottery making, clay art tribal Henna body art, hands-on bowl-making workshops, face painting, balloons and bubbles designing and mixed media sculpture making.
The theme of this year “Better Living”  was focused on having several national and local health- and fitness-focused booths.  The organizations that participated were the American Heart Association, Douglas County Cooperative Extension Service, CORE and Live Healthy Douglas Coalition.  A very interesting thing had happened this year where there was no smoking allowed near the festival and smokers were allowed to walk about five blocks away from the festival to smoke.  This new rule was inducted due to the “Better Living” theme which is a great thing that Douglasville decided to do!  I had a chance to volunteer with the Master Gardeners/4H Group booth.  I had a chance to sell organic tomato plants, give out water to the hot crowd and answered questions about gardening.
I was truly proud to see that over 12,000 people show up to the Taste of Douglasville and that the local community made a effort to promote local businesses and healthy living theme.  Way to go Douglasville!!
To see highlights pictures of the Taste of Douglasville click our Pinterest section.
Want to learn how to live healthy!  Become a Living Healthy VIP Membership!  It is FREE!  Click here for more information!

Community Service Day

It is so important to get involved with your community so when my job decided to ask their employees to participate in Community Service Day I decided to jump at the opportunity to do this.  I was able to conduct a nutrition educational program for the parents at the Carrie Steele Pitts Home.

Carrie Steele Pitts Home is Atlanta, Georgia historic home for children in need. For over a century, they have provided a nurturing environment for abused, abandoned and neglected children who are unable to stay with their parents. This place is a safe haven for children where they provide 24- hour supervision caring staff members that supports and loves for up to 100 children in need.

The Carrie Steele-Pitts Home provides a Life Learning Center which is a multipurpose facility where the children participate in academic enrichment, athletic activities and spiritual growth.  How did this enriching organization come about?  Here is a historical quote from the Carrie Steele – Pitts Home:

Carrie Steele – Pitts Home was founded by Mrs. Carrie Steele, who was working as a maid at the Union Railroad Station in downtown Atlanta when she discovered that abandoned babied and children were being left at the station. She began to care for these children, placing them in an empty boxcar during the day and taking them home with her at night. In 1888, Mrs. Steele chartered the organization, eventually selling her home and generating additional funds from the community to build the first facility called the “Carrie Steele Orphan Home.”  In our organization’s long history, only four individuals have held the position of Executive Director. Soon after Mrs. Steele’s death in 1908, Mrs. Clara Maxwell Pitts became director and she served in this role for over 40 years. During this time, the Home became a United Way agency, moved to a larger facility on Roy Street in southwest Atlanta, and changed our name to the Carrie Steele – Pitts Home to honor Mrs. Pitts’ contributions to the Home.  In 1950, Mrs. Pitts’ daughter, Mrs. Mae Maxwell Yates took over the directorship, and she was responsible for moving CSPH to our current location at 667 Fairburn Road. Just before her retirement, Mrs. Pitts hired Ollivette Allison, a former CSPH resident, to serve as the Home’s first social worker and later the Director of Case Worker Services. Since 1976, Ms. Allison has been the Executive Director, providing inspired leadership with a strong commitment to new generations of children in the Atlanta community. The incredible continuity of leadership has allowed us to stay true to the mission and ideals of our founder.

I was truly honored to spend a day volunteering with this prestigious organization.  I was able to, along with my co-workers, teach the parents in the nearby neighborhood on healthy eating for breakfast.  What we found when teach the parents and some of the staff at Carrie Steele- Pitts Home (CSPH) was that CSPH do provide healthy nutritious breakfast meals for the children and the community.  An interesting thing that we found out from the parents that skipping breakfast was very common.  There were a lot of excuses that were stated by the parents such as not enough time, it takes too long to make etc.   We were able to address these issues and gave solutions on how to prepare a healthy breakfast every morning.

Every day should be a Community Service Day where everyone should make a tremendous effort in helping their community and themselves.

Click here to see pictures in pinterest.

For further information on how you can help the children of the Carrie Steele – Pitts Home, please contact:

Dr. Evelyn Lavizzo, Executive Director

or   Denise Kimbro, Office Manager

667 Fairburn Rd., N.W.

Atlanta, Georgia 30331

Phone#:   404-691-5187

Website:  http://www.csph.org/index.htm