Category Archives: Live Well Stories

Live Well Allegheny and partners wrap up multi-year funded project, expand work with new project aimed at improving health in African American/Black communities

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. American Heart Month, observed in February, provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of heart problems, and to promote healthy behaviors to prevent and reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders. Typically, public health officials point to three major behavior changes that can reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases: eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and quitting smoking. However, in public health, we also know that there can be barriers to access healthy foods and finding opportunities for physical activity opportunities. For many of our neighbors, eating healthy and exercising regularly is easier said than done.

At Live Well Allegheny, we work to ensure that all Allegheny County residents can lead healthy lives. In December 2018, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) wrapped up a multi-year funding opportunity from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to enhance the strategy of Live Well Allegheny and improve health across the county. Live Well Allegheny was expanded through strategic partnerships with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Just Harvest, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Allegheny County Economic Development (ACED), and RAND Health to increase access to healthy food options and physical activity opportunities, and survey health behaviors with the goal of improving overall health of county residents.

To learn more about the collective impact of this project, check out our interactive story map!  You can also click here to view an infographic about the project that was created by RAND Health.

The success of the Richard King Mellon Foundation project led to a new funding opportunity to expand the work with a focus on health equity. In September 2018, ACHD was awarded a five-year national grant, Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH), from the CDC. The new project aims to enhance health equity in Allegheny County by addressing chronic disease risk factors in African American/Black populations living in six high-risk target communities. The new funding will allow ACHD to continue to address healthy equity and chronic disease risk factors by collaborating with community-based organizations. ACHD looks forward to another five years of prioritizing equitable access to health to ensure that all our residents can lead long, healthy lives.

Project Destiny offers a free community health training series by ACHD, part of an initiative to improve health in the Northside neighborhood of the City of Pittsburgh

Knowledge is important to good health, and we need accurate information to maintain a healthy lifestyle. From the types of foods to eat to questions to ask your doctor, good health requires good information. Unfortunately, when it comes to health, there is a lot of misinformation out there. TV doctors, fad diets, and internet ads promise “miracle cures” and create confusion; however, there are reputable resources available to ensure that you are getting the best health information. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has an interactive toolkit, Know the Science, that uses interactive modules, videos, and quizzes to provide accurate and engaging health information. The website provides resources to better understand scientific topics and to help people get the most accurate health information.

To ensure that Northside residents have access to accurate health information, Project Destiny offered a health training series to their community health workers. The community health training series was facilitated by Lorraine Starsky, Allegheny County Health Department’s (ACHD) Chronic Disease Prevention Program Public Health Nurse. The five-part training series provided information about factors that contribute to chronic disease and strategies for improving health on an individual and community level. The series covered information about diabetes, cancer, and heart health awareness, as well as resources for eating healthy on a budget.

Project Destiny’s community health worker program is focused on improving health in the Northside by connecting residents to services. Part-time community health workers who are responsible for connecting Northside residents with available health resources and services. The community health workers go door-to-door connecting with residents to determine what services individuals and families need. Doing so provides Project Destiny with information about the factors that are impacting the health of residents in the Northside.

The community health worker program is part of a larger project, Thrive18, an initiative to improve health in the Northside’s 18 neighborhoods. Thrive18 is part of the BUILD Health Challenge. As an awardee of the BUILD Health Challenge, Project Destiny works with Allegheny General Hospital, ACHD, Buhl Foundation, and Highmark Health using a collaborative approach to improve health. By collaborating with other organizations, Project Destiny seeks to understand and intervene in the underlying factors that impact health like housing, education, and financial stability. By understanding the factors that influence resident health, the organizations hope to improve overall health in the Northside.

Wondering how to spot good health information? Check out our Be Choosy about Health Information guide for help!

Riverview Junior-Senior High School Students Celebrate Health & Wellness at Annual Turkey Trot!

The holiday season is upon us. For most of us, cold weather and holiday parties are the perfect recipe for avoiding healthy habits. Although the season is full of magic and holiday cheer, family traditions and festivities often contribute to unhealthy behaviors like overeating, inactivity, and stress. The temptation to indulge at end of the year makes it the perfect time to remember the benefits of physical activity.

On November 12, the US Department of Health and Human Services released the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, which serves as a reminder of the amount of physical activity needed to maintain or improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. The guide emphasizes the importance of incorporating physical activity as part of your lifestyle at a young age. In fact, kids and teens ages 6 to 17 need 60 minutes of physical activity every day. While it can be challenging to encourage kids to be active, schools are in a unique position to help youth develop healthy habits.

Riverview School District, a Live Well Allegheny School, is providing opportunities for their students to focus on health and wellness. On November 20th, students at Riverview Junior-Senior High School celebrated physical activity at the second annual Turkey Trot, a school-wide health and wellness event. The event featured three physical activity stations, healthy snacks, and a donation drive.

Students participated in an obstacle course walk/run, a boot camp exercise, and yoga. The school partnered with the U.S. Marines to facilitate the boot camp exercise, which involved strength-training activities and team building. Additionally, a local yoga studio, Homegrown Yoga, led the students in a 30-minute yoga session. The three activity stations provided students with skills to build physical endurance and strength and to reduce stress. To encourage student participation, students who completed all three stations had a chance to win an Amazon gift card. Riverview’s Turkey Trot is a great example of how schools can prioritize lifelong health in a fun and engaging way. Live Well Allegheny congratulates Riverview on the success of the event and looks forward to the third annual Turkey Trot!

Five Additional Live Well Allegheny Partners Announced!

November 28, 2018

PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) announced another five partners have joined the Live Well Allegheny campaign. Additional partners include three workplaces, Giant Eagle, Auberle, and Focus on Renewal, one school district, the Cornell School District, and one restaurant, Eighty Acres Kitchen and Bar.

“It’s very encouraging to see more partners continuing to commit to improving the health of their employees, students and patrons, and we welcome these five additional members to the Live Well Allegheny campaign,” said Health Department Director, Dr. Karen Hacker. “Now participating in the campaign are 61 communities, 47 restaurants, 27 workplaces and 15 school districts that are making health a priority in Allegheny County. To make Allegheny County the healthiest county in the nation, it takes a group effort, so we encourage you to apply to earn the Live Well designation if you haven’t already done so.”

Following is more information on the newest members:

Live Well Allegheny Workplaces

Through a variety of initiatives, Giant Eagle is promoting physical activity and nutrition for its employees across its offices, retail support centers and area stores. The company’s efforts range from ongoing wellness challenges that provide incentives for achieving specific wellness goals to health counseling focused on physical activity, smoking cessation and weight management.

Focus on Renewal has committed to provide access to an on-site fitness area, standing desks for employees and a space for a workplace garden. Not only will Focus on Renewal organize fitness classes on site, they will offer employee opportunities for physical/wellness activity before, during, and after work.

In addition to Auberle‘s annual Employee Wellness Program, the workplace has committed to provide healthy options in the cafeteria, in vending machines, and in meetings. Auberle will promote physical activity by organizing fitness classes on site, offer a discount to health-clubs and fitness membership, and encourage employees to participate in athletic activities. Auberle also provides paid time off for employees to have preventive care and cancer screenings and has created an Employee Wellness Committee.

Live Well Allegheny School District

The Cornell School District will improve the health of their students with a commitment to a comprehensive healthy school’s program. Cornell will offer fresh fruit and vegetables at all meals, promote water drinking, and provide 2% milk and chocolate milk instead of whole milk. The district will also utilize websites and social media to provide information on physical activity, nutrition, stress management, tobacco cessation, and other health and wellness related initiatives.

Live Well Allegheny Restaurant

Eighty Acres Kitchen and Bar will promote healthy choices by providing smaller-sized sugar-sweetened beverage options, low calorie salad dressing, and vegetarian fare and healthy side dishes. In addition, Eighty Acres Kitchen and Bar will eliminate trans-fat oils and use plant-based oils for cooking instead.

Live Well Allegheny was launched in January 2014 by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald as a comprehensive and innovative strategy on wellness that embraces a broad concept of living well to include physical health, mental wellness, personal and community safety, prevention and preparedness, and much more. The effort is being led by the Allegheny County Board of Health and Dr. Hacker.

Participants in the Live Well Allegheny campaign work with the Health Department’s staff. While monetary resources are not part of the initiative, participants can receive materials, information and collateral items to promote the campaign and their individual efforts to live well.

Released over the summer, the 2018 Community Impact Report: Creating Health in Every Space details how Live Well Allegheny works with partners to create opportunities for health in every space—where Allegheny County residents live, learn, work, and eat.

Officially open in Clairton, Produce Marketplace brings fresh food, fruits and veggies to the community!

November serves as American Diabetes Month. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability, affecting over 30 million people nationally. Diabetes can cause a variety of health problems like nerve damage, kidney disease, blindness, and even death. The good news? People can lower their risk for type 2 diabetes by making healthy changes. Eating healthy foods and getting more physical activity lowers your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Making healthy choices is not always easy. For many of our neighbors, affording and accessing healthy food is a challenge. Limited access to fresh, healthy foods is a barrier to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

For residents of Clairton, finding healthy food is difficult. A city of almost 7,000 residents, Clairton has not had a grocery store for more than 10 years. While community organizations, including the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, have provided healthy food options with interventions like the Green Grocer, the community has been unable to bring a brick-and-mortar grocer to the residents of Clairton…until now.

Economic Development South, a Live Well Allegheny Community Partner, is bringing healthy food into Clairton with its new food market, Produce Marketplace. Produce Marketplace, a community-driven grocery store, is a place where residents can purchase fresh food in their neighborhood. Filled with fresh options including fruits and vegetables, meat, deli, dairy, and bread, the market fills a long-standing gap in the community. Clairton residents will no longer have to leave their community to purchase healthy foods. The store aims to keep prices low and will accept SNAP and WIC benefits. The market, located at 519 St. Clair Avenue, Clairton, Pennsylvania 15025, is open:

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday and Thursday: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday and Friday: 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday: noon to 3 p.m.

The Produce Marketplace opened its doors to the public on October 27, and held a commemorative opening on October 26. During the soft opening, the market held a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring remarks from Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Denis Davin, and Mayor of the City of Clairton, Richard Lattanzi, and along with other elected officials.

Next time you are in Clairton, make sure to stop by the Produce Marketplace and check out their selection of healthy options! You can also follow all the news about the market by liking their Facebook page.

Tobacco Free Allegheny, Live Well Allegheny, & Partners to Celebrate Smoking Cessation Awareness Week with Allegheny Quits for Life

Did you know that November 11-17 is Smoking Cessation Awareness Week? To raise awareness about tobacco cessation, Tobacco Free Allegheny (TFA), Live Well Allegheny, and supporting partners are joining together for the fourth annual Allegheny Quits for Life week. A week-long series of events and communications, the campaign is designed to support Allegheny County residents’ efforts to quit smoking and stop using tobacco products. Throughout the week TFA partners will be promoting tobacco cessation and healthy activities.

Smoking rates are declining nationally, but the battle is far from over. Every day, roughly 1,300 Americans die from smoking-related illnesses. This is not just a national problem; the health effects of tobacco disproportionately affect Western Pennsylvanians. In Allegheny County, 23% of county residents smoke exceeding the rate of Pennsylvanians (21%) and Americans (18.1%).

To combat the negative impacts of tobacco and build a healthier Allegheny County, TFA serves as a community resource, providing education about tobacco use and the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure. By celebrating Allegheny Quits for Life, TFA and its partners raise awareness about smoking cessation resources, the harmful effects of smoking, and promote healthy activities that can be used to substitute tobacco usage.

Allegheny Quits for Life partners are critical in conveying the message that a smoke-free Allegheny is a healthier Allegheny. There are a variety of ways to get involved in the celebration! Check out the list below for ways to be a part of Allegheny Quits for Life:

Additionally, we encourage you to join in the celebration on Tuesday, November 13th by participating in Tango Tuesday! Tango Tuesday is the official kick-off of Allegheny Quits for Life Cessation Awareness week. The event features a free dance class with Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh, resources from local health organizations, a public press conference & more! See the Facebook Event for more information about Tango Tuesday!

For more information about the events and activities during Allegheny Quits for Life week, please visit:

Pittsburgh organizations attend Farm to Cafeteria Conference, learn ways to add locally-grown food to school meals

It’s Back-to-School season. The season tends to bring thoughts of new clothes, fresh pencils, cute bookbags and jam-packed schedules. For some people, however, back-to-school involves taking steps to safeguard children’s health by focused on immunizations and handwashing. At Live Well Allegheny, we believe it’s just as important to consider nutrition and nutrition in school meals as ways to improve our community’s health.

Recently, eight school food advocates from Pittsburgh attended the 2018 Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Representatives from Pittsburgh Public Schools, Deer Lakes School District, Mt. Lebanon School District, Woodland Hills School District, University of Pittsburgh, Grow Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council learned more about best practices to incorporate food grown and produced locally into school meals. We’re proud to say that these individuals are also part of four Live Well Allegheny school districts, one Live Well Allegheny workplace, and two Live Well Allegheny community partners.

Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, the conference brought together leaders and changemakers in farm to school procurement, school gardens, sustainability, and purchasing regulation. Farm to cafeteria is part of the farm to school movement which seeks to build connections between communities and locally-grown food and local food producers. Farm to school encourages changes in food purchasing and education to improve access to healthy foods, and to empower children to make informed food choices. The conference also included keynote speakers and a myriad of workshops covering topics including equity and access in school gardens, using food service guidelines to create healthy food environments, and methods of engaging state Agriculture departments.

Building on knowledge gleaned from the conference, local organizations hope to encourage more farm to school initiatives in Pittsburgh. The school representatives plan to implement more farm to school by increasing education among parents and students, measuring and communicating impact, implementing procurement changes, and incorporating garden and food production in the classroom.

Following the conference, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service announced Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS), in partnership with Grow Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, is a recipient of the USDA Farm to School grant award. The grant provides $5.2 million in awards to bring nutritious, local food into schools and bolster economic opportunities for farmers. PPS is one of two schools in Pennsylvania to receive the award. The grant funds will be utilized for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years to strengthen and standardized farm to school initiatives throughout the district. Grow Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council will engage local growers to provide produce in schools, and collaborate with community members to increase awareness and support for the farm to school movement.

Allegheny County Youth receive Free Meals and Fun through Summer Food Service Program!

School’s out for the summer! For many kids, summer is filled with pool days, summer camp, and popsicles; however, for thousands of kids in Allegheny County, summer can also mean no school meal and for those struggling with food insecurity, the lack of a free school meal can be impactful. It is estimated that 70,000 students in Allegheny County qualify for free or reduced lunch during the school year. During the summer months, many of those students go without meals. To help fill the gap, organizations like the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, a Live Well Allegheny Community Partner, support local distribution sites of the Summer Food Service Program.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a national program of the USDA that provides free meals to kids in the summer months. SFSP ensures that low-income children receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Through the program, local sponsors like churches and community organizations provide meals and activities to children ages 18 and under.

Allegheny County boasts nearly 300 distribution sites. The distribution sites, which range from churches to parks, provide free summer meals and fun activities to Allegheny County youth throughout the summer months. The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s SFSP outreach initiative seeks to increase participation in the program by offering information, best practices, marketing support, and technical assistance to local sites.

To increase youth participation, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank collaborates with partners to support sites in providing activities during meal times. The Summer Food Toolkit, developed by United Way’s fitUnited, Let’s Move Pittsburgh, and Live Well Allegheny, was created to aid sites in facilitating fun educational activities. The toolkit offers curriculum and activities related to nutrition education, physical activity, and safety.

Wondering how you can find a summer food site near you? To find a site in your neighborhood, text “FOOD” to 877-877 or call 2-1-1 for the United Way hotline to hear site locations and meal schedules. You can also visit USDA’s Summer Meal Site Finder to find a site in your community.

Red Lantern Bike Shop and ACHD promote Bike Safety with Helmet Distribution!

As the calendar turns to June, the temperatures rise, and opportunities for physical activities pop up all over Allegheny County. With a variety of parks and trails, Allegheny County boasts endless opportunities for residents to get outside. While being active this summer, it is important to remember to be safe. June is the perfect time to focus on safety because it is National Safety Month. Did you know injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 40? This month, we encourage everyone to learn more about important safety issues, and ways to prevent injuries. To celebrate National Safety Month, we are spreading the word about one of our Live Well Allegheny Community Partners, the Red Lantern Bike Shop, and their work providing bikes and safe biking equipment to children.

The Red Lantern Bike Shop operates with a team of volunteers to repair bikes for free, and provide free bikes to kids in the community. Working out of a repurposed shipping container, Red Lantern Bike charges only for parts that need to be ordered, but bike repairs are done for free by volunteers. The organization is so much more than repairs, as part of its mission is to provide free bikes to kids whose families may not be able to afford a new bike. Volunteers collect used bicycles, fix them, and on Saturdays opens the shop for families with children to stop and pick up a free bike for their kids.

This summer, the Red Lantern Bike Shop will be providing a helmet along with a bike to children through a partnership with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD)’s Chronic Disease Prevention Program and Traffic Safety Education Project. The helmet distribution is part of ACHD’s mission to prevent injuries while encouraging kids to be physically active. Funding for this program is provided by the PA Department of Health.

For more information on the Red Lantern Bike Shop, check out its website or Facebook page. Bikes are for any child, but parent and child must be present. Bikes are on a first-come, first-serve basis with typically 12 bikes available each Saturday from 10 AM to Noon. If they can’t find a bike for your child in the right size, you can come back again. The Red Lantern Bike Shop is located at 420 Braddock Avenue, in Braddock, next to Braddock’s Free Store.

Students at Steel Valley School District Teach Families & Community Members about Community Health!

Have you ever wondered how mental health affects teens’ performance at school? Or how poor vision could impact students’ academic achievement? Or maybe you are curious about whether students who receive free and reduced school lunches feel food insecure? These are questions that the students at Steel Valley School District, a Live Well Allegheny member, are exploring through student-led research projects. The students are part of the Pitt-Bridge to College Program (Pitt-Bridge). Pitt-Bridge provides a framework wherein students choose a community health topic, engage in community-based participatory research, and develop an intervention based on research findings.

Pitt-Bridge is an extracurricular program that includes Science, Technology, Research Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STREAM) learning through health science clubs. The health science clubs offer an opportunity to participate in student-led, relevant community health research. The program prepares students to effectively work with others and become STREAM leaders in their community. The goals of the program are to increase the number of students entering and graduating from college, and to improve community health through student-led and facilitated research and education projects. Pitt-Bridge specifically targets underserved communities in developing its school-based health science clubs.

Currently, Steel Valley hosts three health science clubs – two at the high school, and one at the middle school. On April 21st, Steel Valley hosted a Health and Wellness Fair featuring the Pitt-Bridge students’ research projects. Students involved in the Pitt-Bridge Program presented results from their research projects on relevant community health topics that affect the student body, and the broader community. Divided into three sessions, students and community experts came together to share information and resources with families and community members on each topic.

The first of three projects presented focused on determining whether social isolation was a problem at Steel Valley. The group produced and distributed a survey to other students, and found that approximately 30 percent of students felt isolated. In response to the research findings, the students created a support group to offer a space for peer-to-peer interaction, problem-solving, and friendship-building. The session also featured mental health specialists who work with individuals for counseling, suicide prevention, and managing stress through mindfulness.

The second project focused on “the right to sight” – or vision care for all people. The project considered the connection between vision and success in school, and featured information and resources around vision care in the community. The third and final topic was on food insecurity in Steel Valley. The health science club students conducted survey research about whether students feel food insecure. All students at Steel Valley are eligible for free school lunch due to  a provision under the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. While the research findings indicated that the students are not feeling food insecure, the survey indicated a desire for healthier options at school lunch. Currently, the club is working on connecting students with the food service department to expand food choice at lunch.

Pitt-Bridge offers an opportunity for students to engage in community health research, learn from peers and experts, and make progress towards higher education. Pitt-Bridge is looking to expand the program into additional schools for the 2018-2019 school year. If you are a Live Well Allegheny School, and are interested in participating in the program, please contact Dr. Robert Branch at