Author: ACHD

About ACHD

Created in 1957, the Allegheny County Health Department is charged with protecting the environmental and public health of 1.2 million County residents through Pennsylvania Act 315 , the Local Health Administration Law.

Earn Food Bucks for more food at local Farmers Markets

The Food Trust’s Food Bucks program, in partnership with Just Harvest and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, gives shoppers $2 in food bucks coupons for every $5 spent in food stamps. Launched in 2010, and originally only available in Philadelphia, this healthy food incentive program has expanded to a statewide initiative, with a focus on the Pittsburgh region and western Pennsylvania. The Food Bucks program is offered in over 50 retail settings, including farmers markets, mobile markets, corner stores and supermarkets.

The Food Bucks program allows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps, benefit holders to stretch their budgets to include fresh, healthy, and local fruits and vegetables.

Visit The Food Trust to explore a map to see where, when and how you can earn Food Bucks to purchase fruits and vegetables, and watch the video below to learn more about the Food Bucks program.

Farmers markets, corner stores, supermarkets or other retailers serving SNAP-eligible populations can apply to distribute Food Bucks by contacting Emily Schmidlapp at or 215-575-0444, ext. 5178.

#REACH4Allegheny Wednesdays!


The Allegheny County Health Department is teaming up with local and national partners to address disparities in African-American communities. The REACH program, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -funded initiative, aims to achieve health equity and prevent chronic disease.

In order to spread awareness, #REACH4Allegheny Wednesdays have been created to spotlight REACH partner organizations.

See below for a brief spotlight on two REACH partners:

Youth Opportunities Unlimited is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering youth through education and mentoring. They offer after-school, in-school and summer programming to focus on academic and behavioral improvement. They received a small grant from the REACH Initiative and are teaching children about different cultures.

As part of the program, kids learn about a culture and then eat and cook a meal associated with that culture. For instance, they cooked a Chinese meal that consisted of lo mein with chicken and shrimp fried rice with bubble tea. Students also learned about Jamaica’s history and culture and enjoyed a Jamaican dinner courtesy of 2 Sisters 2 Sons restaurant in Sharpsburg. The youth later prepared jerk chicken, “Rasta Pasta,” steamed cabbage, rice and peas, fried plantains and Jamaican rum cake.

Follow them on Facebook to catch up on all their activities –> YouthOppor Development | Facebook.

Allen Place Community Services offers virtual fitness classes, including the “Dance and Be Fit” program led by the king of line dancing, Roland Ford. Founder and Retired Nurse Jerry Allen is committed to providing health and wellness programs for older residents on the Northside and beyond. The organization also offers a weekly Bible study for your spiritual health via Zoom. Check out their website for more information:



Allegheny County Asthma Control Program

May is peak allergy and asthma season for most people in the U.S., which is why the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declared May “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” Nationally, about 25 million Americans have asthma, 1 in 5 of those are children.

Asthma is one of the most common and costly diseases in the country, and it is also one of the top causes of missed school days in children ages 5 to 17. In 2019, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that Black children are three times more likely to have asthma, and five times more likely to visit the emergency room due to asthma than white children. According to the American Lung Association’s 2021 State of Air report, there were 18,071 cases of pediatric asthma, and 108,246 cases of adult asthma in Allegheny county in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

ACHD recently received a grant from the PA Department of Health to fund the Allegheny County Asthma Control Program (ACAC). This is a four-year grant that builds on the work of an asthma taskforce that was convened as part of the Plan for a Healthy Allegheny. The ACAC uses evidence-based strategies to prevent asthma illness and reduce disparities. ACAC’s overall goal is to improve the reach, quality, effectiveness, and sustainability of asthma control services in Allegheny County.

The following ACHD programs are partnering for the implementation of the ACAC: Air Quality, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Safe and Healthy Homes. ACAC is also partnering with the American Lung Association, Duquesne University’s School for Integrative Health and Women for a Healthy Environment. We look forward to welcoming a Program Manager in June.

The ACAC is implementing the EXHALE strategies that were developed by the National Asthma Control Program of the Centers for Disease Control:

E-Education on asthma self-management.

X-eXtinguishing smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

H-Home visits for trigger reduction and asthma self-management education.

A-Achievement of guidelines-based medical management.

L-Linkages and coordination of care across settings.

E-Environmental policies or best practices to reduce asthma triggers from indoor, outdoor, or occupational sources.

For more information, please visit the National Asthma Control Program website.

Pitt Eats: Healthy Eating on Campus!

At the beginning of 2021 five new Pitt Eats dining locations on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus became the newest Live Well Allegheny Restaurants. They are The Eatery, Schenley Café, Petersen Events Center- Shake Smart, Petersen Events Center- Steel City Subs and the Cathedral of Learning. We interviewed Pitt Eats’ Sustainability Director Lisia de Lima Spellman to learn more about how they use food to encourage health, wellness, and sustainability on campus.

What is the background/history of Pitt Eats’ sustainability initiatives?

We believe serving healthy and nutritious food provides a foundation for lifelong learning. We are proud to feed future leaders and understand the immense responsibility to nourish our guests’ minds and bodies. We believe that wellness goes beyond our dining halls. To support a well-balanced healthy lifestyle, we create programs that help our guests live life to its fullest. From sourcing our ingredients to preparing our menus, we keep health and wellness at the forefront of everything we do.

How does Pitt Eats’ commitment to sustainability assist the efforts of Live Well Allegheny?

Pitt Eats’ commitment to sustainability embraces the system as whole, including the environment and the people. Providing healthy and nutritious food to our guests is how we assist the efforts of Live Well Allegheny.

What do you consider the greatest success to come from Pitt Eats’ sustainability efforts so far?

We consider each sustainability initiative a great success and each one of them will create an impact in the environment and in the community. Reducing waste, increasing the amount of sustainable food purchasing, reducing GHG emissions, having more local foods in our portfolio, donating food, and donating 5% of a purchase back to the Pitt Pantry are examples of the sustainable initiatives we drive.

What are your plans moving forward?

  • Expanding the Real Food Challenge across campus to serve 25% Real Food by 2025.
  • Serve 50% of to-go meals and beverages in reusable containers by 2025.
  • Serve meals that put plants at the center of the plate by decreasing the amount of animal-derived products sold by 25% by 2025.
  • Expand food waste composting 50% by 2025.
  • Reduce landfill waste by 25% by 2030 from 2017 levels.

To learn more about the Pitt Eats dining locations, or other Live Well Allegheny Restaurants visit the Live Well Allegheny Restaurants page.

Breathe PA releases a New Multi-Language Asthma Action Workbook

Breathe Pennsylvania has released a new Asthma Action Workbook in multiple language to address gaps in the healthcare of children with asthma. Language barriers can prevent proper communication between family, school, healthcare providers and community support groups.

Breathe Pennsylvania provides supportive programs to address the health and well-being of children with asthma in Allegheny County. The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges in the way we provide education, healthcare, and emotional support to keep our children with asthma safe and healthy. The key to proper asthma management is correct assessment, diagnosis and treatment.  Communications within the team of child, parent or guardian, healthcare provider, school, and community are vital. COVID-19 has placed new demands on the asthma care team’s time and resources.

The new Asthma Action Workbook can help by providing opportunities for more child-centered communication, and increased engagement of parents or guardians of children with asthma. It is a valuable resource for families, schools, healthcare providers, and community groups to support proper asthma management. This workbook can reflect the specific needs of each child to foster a better understanding and partnership with families and schools with the aim of reducing trips to the Emergency Department and stays in the hospital. It will help to better define and organize the individual management needs at home, school and in the community. The workbook includes an Asthma Action Plan which will help to ensure everyone is on the same page and reduce miscommunications due to language barriers.

Breathe Pennsylvania works closely with Allegheny County school nurses to provide a School Asthma Initiative (SAI), which is an asthma management program. The initiative provides in-person and real-time virtual education, training, and resources throughout Allegheny County. The goal of SAI is to promote a healthy life for all children diagnosed with asthma.

A free download of the workbook is available in English, Spanish, Somali, Swahili, Arabic, or Nepali at: School Asthma Initiative (SAI) – Breathe PA

For additional information on asthma education, training, and resources, or to speak to a Certified Asthma Educator, please contact Breathe Pennsylvania at

Join Breathe Pennsylvania in supporting our children with asthma. “Stay Well and Stay Safe.”

Health Screenings & Flu Shot Clinics

No-cost flu shots and screenings for chronic diseases, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

7th 3-5 PM Propel Hazelwood Charter School
8th 5-8 PM Caliguiri Plaza (Allentown)
13th 5-8 PM Gualtieri Manor (Beechview)
14th 3-4 PM Propel Hazelwood Charter School
5-8 PM Frank Mazza Pavilion (Brookline)
15th 5-8 PM Carrick Regency (Carrick)
18th 2-4 PM Hazelwood Below the Tracks (5007 Lytle Street)
20th 5-8 PM Morse Gardens (Southside)
21st 2-4 PM Finello Pavilion (Oakland)
22nd 5-8 PM Murray Towers (Squirrel Hill)
24th 10 AM-2 PM SOKO Community Market (Hill District)

For more information, call or text the Duquesne University School of Pharmacy at 412-342-8276

(Download this page as a PDF)

September is National Recovery Month

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many new challenges that have had an impact on those with substance use disorder. Emotional stressors such as potential job loss, working full-time from home without child care and a decrease in face-to-face social interaction have created additional barriers for people to seek treatment or access treatment or recovery support when they want or need it. The Overdose Prevention Project at the Allegheny County Health Department works with partners to provide resources to individuals and communities to address substance use disorder.

September is National Recovery Month. The month-long campaign aims to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, while supporting those with substance use disorders to live a healthy and rewarding life. The Health Department joins in celebrating the gains made by those living in recovery in all its forms.

According to Allegheny County’s Fatal Overdose Dashboard since 2008, Allegheny County, has experienced fatal overdose rates higher than those seen throughout much of the country. There were 3,180 fatal drug overdoses in Allegheny County between 2014 and 2019 and 89% of these overdose deaths were opioid-related. While accidental overdose deaths in Allegheny County dropped 33% from 2017 (738) to 2018 (492), there are still far too many people dying from overdose, with 570 lives lost to overdose in 2019.

While treatment and harm reduction services are still available and being offered for those in need, ACHD and its partners have worked extremely hard to provide tools so that communities are safely prepared to respond to overdose. Tools include information about treatment options and Naloxone distribution to Allegheny County communities. For those in recovery that may be at risk for recurrence of use or those in active use currently at risk of overdose, family members or friends should have Narcan available at home. Narcan is a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Visit for tips to prevent overdose and infection and resource information to access harm reduction services.

Throughout the month of September and October, ACHD and its partners have hosted multiple Narcan giveaway days and resource fairs in priority communities that were identified through ACHD’s overdose surveillance and community engagement efforts.

Join us in recognizing those who continue their struggle by attending one of these upcoming events.

Upcoming Narcan Giveaways

Celebrate National Breastfeeding Month

Breastfeeding has health benefits for both baby and mother and the longer a baby is breastfed, the greater the benefits. Women who don’t breastfeed are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancer as they age. Infants who are fed breastmilk are at lower risk of developing ear infections, diarrhea, asthma, and obesity. More information about the benefits of breastfeeding are provided by the Centers for Disease Control at this link.

Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said that infants benefit from breastmilk through the thousands of components it contains that interact to protect them from infections and to grow and develop optimally. For women, starting from the earliest stages of pregnancy, their bodies prepare for lactation. Breastfeeding is then part of the way women adapt to post-delivery.

For example, breastfeeding helps the uterus to shrink down to a pre-pregnancy size and reduces postpartum bleeding. It also uses fat stores that were added during pregnancy. It is for this reason that people refer to breastfeeding as part of the 4th trimester, Dr. Bogen said.

“The health impacts of breastfeeding for both women and infants are undeniable,” Dr. Bogen said. “But remember, although breastfeeding is natural and optimal – it is not always easy. Women and families need support to breastfeed successfully – from health professionals, family, friends and community.”

August is National Breastfeeding Month and the theme is Many Voices United. According to the United States Breastfeeding Committee, “Now, more than ever, we must come together to identify and implement the policy and systems changes that are needed to ensure that every family that chooses breastfeeding has the support and resources they need to succeed.”

Breastfeeding initiation rates have risen slowly and steadily for the past 20 years in the United States. As of 2017, 84% of all infants born in the U.S. received at least one breastmilk feeding. That was up from 76% in 2010.

However, the rates of exclusive breastfeeding and the duration of breastfeeding lag behind the Healthy People 2020 goals set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2017, 58% of infants were still being fed any breastmilk at age 6 months and only 35% at 12 months.

With supportive employers and communities, women are more likely to reach their own breastfeeding goals and the national recommendations of exclusive breastmilk feeding for the first 6 months of life and continuation of breastfeeding with the addition of solid food until at least 12 months of age.

The Allegheny County Breastfeeding Coalition is working to do this by encouraging breastfeeding friendly workplaces.

Allegheny County Breastfeeding Coalition

In celebration of National Breastfeeding Month, the Allegheny County Breastfeeding Coalition (ACBC) in collaboration with the Allegheny County Health Department’s Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) accepted nominations for the 24th Breastfeeding Friendly Place Award. The ACBC makes a conscientious effort to recognize workplaces, public places and other sites away from home that put forth an effort in accommodating breastfeeding. The ACBC and WIC announced the United Way of Southwestern PA, a fellow Live Well Allegheny Workplace, as the winner of the 2020 Breastfeeding Friendly Place Award.

“We’re honored to be recognized by Allegheny County Health Department as both a Live Well Allegheny Workplace and a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace,” said Bobbi Watt Geer, president and CEO, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. “Every day, we’re on the front lines helping people throughout our region live fully. Though the coronavirus pandemic has hit our community hard, especially struggling families, we know there’s power in doing everything we can to practice self-care. And we know that starts with us. I’m proud to be part of the United Way team that prioritizes health and well-being, inside and outside our offices.”

The United Way strives to create a breastfeeding friendly environment for staff when they return to work. The organization provides a comfortable and welcoming space for breastfeeding mothers, and its policies include providing pumping time for mothers returning to work and supporting a lactation room that provides privacy and refrigeration spaces. The entire organization is very supportive of their coworkers breastfeeding journeys.

According to Dannai Wilson, Allegheny County Health Department Maternal and Child Health Program Manager, “It is important for workplaces to support breastfeeding as it has shown to be a return on their investment with reductions in healthcare costs, employee absenteeism, turnover, increased retention, morale, and loyalty.”

Research has proven that supportive employers and communities improve the odds of families reaching their breastfeeding goals and the national recommendations of exclusive breastmilk feeding for the first 6 months of life and continuation of breastfeeding with the addition of solid food until at least 12 months of age. The ACBC is dedicated to supporting and initiating efforts to normalize breastfeeding to improve health outcomes of families in every community across Allegheny County.  If you are interested in working with the ACBC or the Breastfeeding Friendly Place Award, please contact Sharon Leavitt.

The ACBC will be accepting nominations for the 25th Breastfeeding Friendly Place Award starting in March of 2021.

Support for Moms and Babies

Are you a mom looking for breastfeeding support? There are a lot of resources available.

  • If you have questions about breastfeeding or need help, please call the Breastfeeding Help Line at 412-687-2243 that is managed by the Allegheny County Health Department, Maternal and Child Health Program. The helpline is available Monday-Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. All calls are referred to registered nurses, certified lactation counselors, and an internationally board-certified lactation consultant. Staff will help you start breastfeeding; answer questions and problem solve with you so that you can continue breastfeeding your baby.
  • The Healthy Start Center for Urban Breastfeeding offers breastfeeding support provided by Certified Lactation Consultants (CLCs) to help mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals. They also have events and trainings. More information is available at their web site.
  • The Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle has organized meetups for moms of African descent to provide support for breastfeeding. More information is available at their web site.

Supporting Brain Health with the Alzheimer’s Association

alzheimer's associationAlzheimer’s disease is increasingly recognized as a public health crisis. According to the former U.S. Surgeon General and CDC Director, Dr. David Satcher, “Alzheimer’s is the most under-recognized threat to public health in the 21st Century.” Communities around the country, including Allegheny County, are taking a public health approach to this disease due to the large burden, major impact, and opportunity for intervention.

The burden is large: The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to increase from five million to 14 million by 2050. Not only is it the most expensive disease in the US, it also accounts for more deaths each year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

The impact is major: Alzheimer’s impacts more than just the individual diagnosed; families, healthcare providers, and community members are all affected by the emotional, physical and dollar costs of this disease. Additionally, 95% of people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias have at least one other chronic condition. Dementia can complicate management of co-occurring conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.

The opportunity for intervention: Communities are focusing on early detection and diagnosis, reducing risky health behaviors, collecting and using surveillance data, developing workforce competencies, and mobilizing partnerships such as our Live Well Allegheny partner, Alzheimer’s Association of Pittsburgh.

To reduce health behaviors that increased the risk for dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association is spreading awareness of the heart-brain connection. The heart and brain are closely linked — harm or damage to one can affect the other. For example, when blood pumps to the brain, there is a complex network of blood vessels that delivers nutrients and oxygen to brain cells. High blood pressure can damage, narrow, and scar these blood vessels over time. When this happens, parts of the brain may become damaged due to lack of oxygen and nutrients and this can result in cognitive/brain decline.  So, high blood pressure increases the risk for both heart disease and dementia.  also increases your risk for Similarly, obesity increases the risk of both heart disease and brain’s health.

While there is no way to definitively prevent Alzheimer’s disease, adopting key lifestyle habits can reduce the risk of illness of the brain and the heart.

What ten lifestyle habits help maintain brain health?

  1. Participate in regular cardiovascular exercise
  2. Education – keep learning
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Manage blood pressure and diabetes
  5. Reducing risk of falls
  6. Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  7. Get enough sleep
  8. Manage mental health and stress
  9. Remain socially engaged
  10. Challenge your mind with play and games

For more information on efforts in our community, please contact: Sara Murphy at For additional information and support please contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 helpline at 1.800.272.3900.

For resources about Alzheimer’s and the heart-brain connection, please view:

National Minority Health Month

April is National Minority Health Month! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is teaming up with the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) to launch the Move Your Way campaign. For the second consecutive year, the theme is Active and Healthy.

This month, the observance looks a lot different than past promotions as our nation navigates a global pandemic. We are advised to self-quarantine, and the phrase social distancing is now a household name. Students are studying with screens, and adults are juggling families and work from home, here in Allegheny County and across the country. All of these factors increase anxiety and stress and decrease opportunities for physical activities. Live Well Allegheny and the REACH initiative wants to keep families safe and healthy during this time. So this April, we are highlighting how you can stay active even if you stay at home.

We are joined by local and national partners working together to improve health outcomes and highlight the benefits of incorporating small amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity into our schedules as recommended by the 2nd edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Simple changes to one’s daily routine can transform lives and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and other conditions that often are more common or severe among racial and ethnic minority groups.

Although there are behavior changes that we can do to improve personal and community health outcomes, there are also system changes that must take place to truly bring about equity to ensure that you have a quality life no matter what zip code you reside in. That you have access to healthcare, hospitals, grocery stores, farmers’ markets and transportation. The first step is calling out the inequities occurring and recommending solutions to the problem.

Recently, the Allegheny County Health Department and the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health worked to do just that and issued a series of equity briefs to bring attention to inequities and disparities related to five focus areas, including chronic disease. They looked at how race, education and income influence one’s health and access to information and services. This month, we’re promoting the problem and seeking solutions.

Gyms like Freedom Fitness Facility may be closed to the public, but they are open online. Owner Charles Cook is churning out a home fitness series on his Facebook Page. You can get active with regular workouts. The videos are approximately 12-15 minutes long and use lightweight dumbbells or exercise bands, however, most sessions do not require equipment.

REACH partners are getting in on the online action! Robert Boatright of Grind Hard Training produced a Quarantine Workout series on YouTube and is providing live workouts, including spin classes and family fitness, via Zoom.

The Be Healthy and Smart Initiative (BHS) created by Pittsburgh Obama Academy PTSA is taking steps to help Obama students and the community get fit and healthy. The Facebook Page features self-quarantine yoga workouts and hip hop classes.
You can also download popular apps, such as Sworkit, which was co-founded by Black Enterprise’s 2015 Techpreneur Ben Young. Sworkit provides customized 5-60 minute strength, pilates and stretching workouts that require no equipment. Another app geared at the African-American community is GrpFit. The app offers customized workouts, on-demand classes, and a fitness community for people of color.