Food Security

Feeding the community during the COVID-19 crisis

Here in Michigan, schools, libraries and other facilities are closed amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Coupled with shortages in grocery stores, some families that rely on food-security programs may be struggling to feed their families. Local non-profit agencies are working hard to ensure these programs are maintained and our communities don’t go hungry. If you or someone you know needs help, scroll down for a list of food-security programs, organized by county and school district. If you are able to volunteer to help get food to those in need, or would like to donate, click here.

Washtenaw County

Ann Arbor Public Schools has set 11 locations for free meal pickups around Ann Arbor. Breakfast and lunch packages are available for pickup from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Tuesdays and Fridaysexcept for Friday, April 3. Meals will be available on Thursday, April 2 instead.

  • Bryant Community Center, 3 W. Eden Court.
  • Green Baxter Court Community Center, 1737 Green Road.
  • Hikone Community Center, 2724 Hikone Drive.
  • The Pinelake Village Coop, outside the clubhouse, 2680 Adrienne Drive.
  • Lakestone Apartments, outside the clubhouse, 4275 Eyrie Drive.
  • Scio Farms, outside the clubhouse, 6655 Jackson Road.
  • Orchard Grove, outside the clubhouse, 2835 S. Wagner Road.
  • Carpenter Elementary, outside the school, 4250 Central Blvd.
  • Scarlett Middle School, outside the school, 3300 Lorraine St.
  • Peace Maple Meadows Satellite, West Ann Arbor Satellite 1111 N. Maple Road.
  • Arrowwood Hills Community Center, 2566 Arrowwood Trail.

For individuals that cannot make it to one of these food pick-ups or have food allergy concerns, call the AAPS Food Service Hotline at 734-994-2265.

Chelsea School District Food Service is providing sack breakfast and lunch meals for students from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Wednesday, March 18; Monday, March 23 and Friday, March 27 at the Chelsea High School commons entrance. Please contact (734) 433-2208 ext. 6082 for further information.

Dexter Community Schools is implementing Drive-up pickup starting Tuesday, March 17 in the Mill Creek Parking Lot.Drive-up pickup will be 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM every Tuesday and Friday. Each pickup will include breakfast and lunch for 5 days’ worth per child.

Lincoln Consolidated Schools’ Lincoln Food Service is providing grab and go meals for all students in need. Drive-through distribution begins Monday, from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM behind the Lincoln High School East Cafe

Milan Area Schools will run its usual bus route to get meals to families starting Tuesday, March 17. Additionally, a drive-through site will be available between 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM at Paddock Elementary. Information regarding further food service distribution will be available Wednesday morning.

Saline Area Social Services is distributing pre-packaged groceries to families 10:00 AM – 2:30 PM Tuesday and Thursday in its parking lot at 244 W. Michigan Ave. Those interested in volunteering are asked to call 734-476-7831.

Ypsilanti Community Schools will offer a week’s worth of breakfast and lunch to be provided from March 17 to April 2. Meals will be handed out11:00 AM – 1:00 PM Tuesdays and Thursdays at all six locations. Three sites will hand out meals from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM on those days as well. 

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

  • A.C.C.E., 1076 Ecorse
  • Community Family Life Center, 1375 S Harris Road
  • Stronger Tower Ministries, 134 Spencer Lane
  • Parkridge Community Center, 591 Armstrong Drive
  • CRC Community Resource Center, 2057 Tyler Road

4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

  • Community Family Life Center
  • Stronger Tower Ministries
  • Parkridge Community Center

The district is in search of volunteers to staff the six locations. Training for 24 lead volunteers is 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM Monday at the district administration building, 1885 Packard St. Additional volunteers will be needed starting Tuesday, March 17. Part of the job for lead volunteers will be documenting meals served and assisting with clean up.


Livingston County

Howell Public Schools is offering food on Monday, March 23 and Monday, March 30 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM in the circle driveway on the north side of Howell High School. The district will deliver meal kits to families who are unable come during the pick-up time. If you need a meal kit delivered, please use the following link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfvy-qr2Aye-sm8q5qozk8aBi_5dFTIyWpL0e_TLP6FXZQkeQ/viewform

Fowlerville Community Schools is partnering with Gleaners’ Community Food Bank to distribute food to their students’ families on Thursday, March 19th and Thursday, April 2nd at the Fowlerville High School. Any member of a student’s family can come to the main entrance of the high school from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Approximately two weeks of food for each student will be distributed. There are other resources available to support families during this time as well. Breakfast sandwiches are being distributed at Kodet’s Hardware. Visit their Facebook page for more information. Lunch is being distributed at the Torch 180 at 131 Mill Street. Click here for more information. Families in need of support could also call the Family Impact Center at (517) 223- 4428.

Brighton Area Schools’ Student Nutrition Department has donated a large quantity of unused food to Gleaners for distribution to families during the shutdown. Gleaners’ Shared Harvest Pantry will be open by appointment only. The pantry will offer a drive-up service with a box of food; and may include meat, fresh produce, toilet paper and laundry soap as supplies are available. For more information, call (517) 548-3710.

The Salvation Army will provide sack lunches Tuesday-Friday next week from Noon to 1 PM at the following locations:

  • Tuesday: Lakeshore Village Apartments 2812 Ontario Ct, Howell, MI 48843
  • Wednesday:  Grand Plaza Apartments 401 S Highlander Way, Howell, MI 48843
  • Thursday: Prentis Estates Apartments1103 S Latson Rd, Howell, MI 48843
  • Friday:  Howell Estates, 515 Mason Rd, Howell, MI 48843


Brighton Area Schools will also be continuing their “Blessings in a Backpack” program through BAS by distributing food in the BECC parking lot during the next three Tuesdays from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM. This will be a drive through pick up process. If you need additional support, please email Starr Acromite at acromis@brightonk12.com or call (810) 299-4040.  

Pinckney Community Schools will be offering breakfast and lunch food Thursdays from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Food will be distributed in front of pathfinder school at the main office entry. They ask that all parents and students remain in their vehicles as the food is brought to their car. Two-day portions will be provided at each distribution. Electronic forms are currently being developed so that they can deliver food personally. Pinckney Community Schools will offer a mobile food pantry Wednesday, March 18th from 5:00PM – 6:00 PM in the district transportation garage.

Whitmore Lake Public Schools is providing grab and go breakfast and lunches Monday through Friday. Breakfast can be picked up 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM, and lunch is picked up from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM at the front doors of Whitmore Lake Elementary School, 1077 Barker Road, Whitmore Lake, MI. To help plan for the right amount of food, parents are asked to fill out this form. If your family is unable to pick up the meals, but still are in need of assistance, you can fill out this form


Oakland County

Clarkston Community Schools is partnering with Chartwells School Dining to provide free breakfasts and lunch to families in need. Students ages 18 and younger (or 26 and younger if an Adult Transition Services student) can pick up food Monday through Friday at the following locations and times:

CURBSIDE PICK-UP AT:

  • Andersonville Elementary School
    • 10350 Andersonville Road
    • Daily pick-up from 11am-12:30pm
    • Sashabaw Middle School 
    • 5565 Pine Knob Lane
    • Daily pick-up from 11am-12:30pm
  • Clarkston Junior High School 
    • 6595 Waldon Road
    • Daily pick-up from 11am-12:30pm
  • CCS FOOD SERVICES TRUCK IN PARKING LOT AT:
    • Bridgewater Park Apartments
      • 5801 Bridgewater Dr.
      • Daily pick-up from 11:30am-12pm
      • Clintonvilla Mobile Home Community
      • 4851 Clintonville Rd.
      • Daily pick-up from 12pm-12:30pm
    • Independence Woods Mobile Home Community
      • 2500 Mann Rd.
      • Daily pick-up from 11am-11:30am

Clawson Public Schools is collaborating with Chartwells dining services to offer a free brown bag breakfast and lunch program to all members in the community from Monday to Friday 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM or 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM at Clawson Middle School.

Novi Community School District will provide grab and go breakfast and lunches for students aged 18 and under and students with IEPs up to age 26 on Tuesday March 24 and Tuesday March 31. Seven days of food will be provided each week. Food will be provided for each student in the family. Families can pick up the food in the Novi High School Taft Road parking lot. It is a drive through process in the bus loop area. Families can pick up food between the hours of 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM. There are also two mobile drop off areas in the community. One in the Novi Ridge Apartments and the other in the Pavilion Court. Food will be delivered to the clubhouses via a Novi Community School District bus in both locations between 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Children do not have to be present.

Pontiac School District will deliver meals to designated stops along each bus route starting Wednesday, March 18 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. For full details click here.

South Lyon Community Schools’ students are eligible to receive breakfast and lunch for seven days on each pickup date listed below. Students do not need to be present. This program will be a pickup and go program. Families will pull up to the main entrance of the respective school building and volunteers will come to your vehicle to ask how many children you will be feeding. At that time, they will bring the prepacked breakfast and lunch food to your vehicle. Wednesday, March 18; Wednesday, March 25 and Wednesday, April 1. The locations include:

  • South Lyon High School 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Kent Lake Elementary 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Dolsen Elementary 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Salem Elementary 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Southfield Public Schools is working with SFE and First Student to offer up to two meals per day to all children ages 18 and under for free. This includes students with disabilities, ages 18-26, with an active individual education program (IEP). Beginning Monday, March 16, meals for seven days a week will be delivered to Southfield Public Schools students and all children in the community throughout the time of the state closure of schools. Specified stops will be made from 10:45 AM – 1:30 PM daily.

Students that ride special needs buses will have meals delivered to their homes. In addition, there will be buses on standby to capture students who may miss the scheduled bus delivery or for special meals. Meals will also be distributed at Thompson K-8 International Academy (16300 Lincoln Drive, Southfield 48076) starting Monday, March 16, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. The remainder of the week’s distribution will be 8:00 PM – 1:00 PM. Please call (248) 746-8522 for questions. Click here for the full bus stop schedule.

Troy School District is offering grab and go breakfasts and lunches every weekday from 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM from March 17 to April 1 at the following locations:

  • Athens High School
  • Troy High School
  • Troy Career and College HS
  • Baker Middle School
  • Smith Middle School
  • Morse Elementary School
  • Troy Union Elementary
  • Charter Square Apartments
  • Rochester Villas
  • Somerset Apartments
  • The Gables of Troy
  • Troy Villas

For further information, please call (248) 823-5089.

Walled Lake Consolidated Schools has a curbside pickup for students in need Monday, March 23 and 30 from 1:45 PM – 3:00PM. If you are unable to pick up food, email info@wlcsd.org for delivery.


Wayne County

Dearborn Public Schools is offering free pickup breakfast and lunch for students while school is closed for the mandatory shut down over the next three weeks. Pickups will run daily from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM starting March 17 at Fordson High School, Edsel Ford High School, Dearborn High School, McCollough-Unis K-8, Salina Intermediate School and Woodworth Middle School.

Detroit Public Schools will offer Breakfast and lunch and Academic Packets starting Wednesday, March 18 at 58 DPSCD buildings. Students will not be allowed to enter the building.

  • A “grab-and-go” breakfast will be served, Monday – Friday, from 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM
  • A “grab-and-go” lunch will be served from 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM
  • Academic K-8 learning packets with a focus on Mathematics, English Language Arts, Science and Social Studies can be picked-up at the same 58 school locations listed below.

All school locations listed below are linked to Google Maps for directions.

ACADEMY of AMERICAS @ LOGAN (K-3) , ANN ARBOR TRAIL , BATES ACADEMY , BENNETT , BETHUNE , BLACKWELL , BROWN, RONALD , BURTON INTERNATIONAL , CARLETON , CARSTENS , CARVER , CENTRAL/DURFEE , CLARK , CLEMENTE , CLIPPERT , CODY HS , COMMUNICATIONS & MEDIA ARTS , COOKE , DAVISON , DENBY , DETROIT COLLEGIATE PREP HS , DETROIT INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY , DIXON, DOSSIN, DOUGLASS ACADEMY , EAST ENGLISH VILLAGE PREP HS , ELLINGTON @ BECKHAM , EMERSON, FISHER UPPER, GARDNER , GARVEY, GOLIGHTLY ED. CENTER, GOMPERS, GREENFIELD UNION, HAMILTON, HENDERSON, HENRY FORD, HOLMES AL , KING HIGH SCHOOL , KING, J.R. , LAW , MACKENZIE , MANN , MARK TWAIN , MUMFORD , NOBLE , NOLAN , OSBORN , PALMER PARK ACADEMY , PERSHING , PRIEST , RENNAISSANCE , SAMPSON , SOUTHEASTERN , WAYNE , WESTERN , WRIGHT, CHARLES 

Plymouth – Canton Community Schools has put together a plan for six district sites to make breakfast and lunch meals available on a weekly basis. Families are welcome to come pick up free meals for all kids every Wednesday during the school closure period, starting on Wednesday, March 18.

Each package contains both breakfast and lunch for five days. This program is for all kids 18 years old and under, as well as our students ages 18 to 26 who are serviced with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in their community.

MEAL PICKUP SCHEDULE:

Every Wednesday during the school closure period (starting March 18) from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

LOCATIONS:

  • Salem High School, 46181 Joy Rd., Canton
  • Starkweather Academy, 39750 Joy Rd., Plymouth
  • Discovery Middle School, 45083 Hanford Rd., Canton
  • Liberty Middle School, 46250 Cherry Hill Rd., Canton
  • West Middle School, 44401 Ann Arbor Trail, Plymouth
  • Eriksson Elementary, 1275 Haggerty Rd., Canton

In addition, families may visit other school locations to pick up meals should it be more convenient. Visit the Wayne RESA website for a complete list of Wayne County school districts that are offering free meal programs. For questions, contact Healthy.Meals@pccsk12.com.

Van Buren Public Schools’ Bus Service will be delivering meals from March 19 to April 10, Monday through Friday. For more information, click here.

Wayne-Westland Community Schools will be providing drive-thru breakfast and lunch for ALL students from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM at John Glenn High School, located at 36105 Marquette, Westland, MI on the following dates: Wednesday, March 18; Monday, March 23 and Monday, March 30. Students do not need to be present  Please fill out this form before you visit to indicate which date(s) you plan to attend and how many children are in your family.

Wyandotte Public Schools is offering breakfast and lunch for pickup in weekly portions on Wednesday, March 18; Wednesday, March 25 and Wednesday, April 1 at the Roosevelt High School main entrance parking lot from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM.


Other services offered within Livingston, Oakland,  Washtenaw, or Wayne counties

Bountiful Harvest is providing breakfast and lunches for Livingston County children who qualify for reduced or free lunch. They will be providing each child with enough food for breakfast and lunch for a week with pickups once per week at 290 E Grand River Ave, Brighton, MI. Please call the day before pickup by 5:00 PM at (810) 360-0271. People are welcome to shop the pantry during their normal pantry hours Thursday 6:00 PM – 8:00, Friday 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM and Saturday 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM. They also serve a hot dinner Friday night 3:30 to 5:30 and a hot breakfast Saturday morning 8-11. Takeout meals are available. For those who do not wish to come in, they have a shopping list for you to choose the items you want and volunteer shoppers will gather their goods and bring them to your vehicle.

Hope Clinic is distributing hot meals to go on Sundays, Mondays and Saturdays. It will have emergency groceries available during operating hours. Call (734) 484-2989 to make a pantry appointment. Visit at 518 Harriet St, Ypsilanti, MI.

SOS Community Services has pantry days from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM every Tuesday and 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM every Wednesday at 114 North River in Ypsilanti, MI 48198. Please call for appointments at (734) 484-9945 prior to pantry day. Walk-ins will be accepted with limited pantry access. Emergency groceries are also available.

TeaHaus is providing free boxed lunches for AAPS students starting Monday. The boxed meals are being handed out at Eat More Tea, 211 E. Ann St. in downtown Ann Arbor.

Palm Palace is offering free meals for kids while schools are closed at 2370 Carpenter Road, Ann Arbor. Please call (734) 606-0706

Food Gatherers has multiple locations across the state and will continue its operations with altered hours to distribute food. Visit their website here for hours of operation.

Connor O’Neill’s Irish Pub is offering boxed lunches for children between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM at 318 S. Main St., Ann Arbor.

Downriver food pantries list https://docs.google.com/document/d/1R-XbvLVowMKSlWNGFukXYtDOoONXRyGu-f-Q7kYXj-4/edit

To find a local food pantry near you visit: https://www.mi211.org/get-help/search?keyword=Food%20Pantries Please call or check their respective website for COVID-19 protocol.


To keep all patients safe, please do not enter an IHA facility if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, including, fever, cough and shortness of breath. Instead, please visit IHAcares.com/screening to complete a free COVID-19 screening or call your physician’s practice for additional medical assistance.

We are continually sharing resources about COVID-19 for our patients. Stay up to date on all of the resources available to you from IHA.

Balancing Your Plate

Things to consider when trying to achieve a heathly diet.

The crowd quiets to a dull roar as the smoke clears, and a spotlight descends on a lone performer. The performer quickly curtseys and begins. They reach for a porcelain plate, perch its underside lip on a pole and begin whirling with increasing ferocity. Soon, the plate is spinning at high speeds, perfectly balanced on the end of the thin pole. Moving slowly with eyes above, the performer reaches for more: two plates for each hand! Three! Four! The crowd roars as the performer nearly loses their balance, anticipating the moment where the plates come careening down into a pile of rubble. Anxious, spectators perch on the edge of their seats to peer at the face of the performer. Lo and behold, a familiar face: it’s you!

Every day we attempt a plate-balancing act, albeit a bit different than the one described above: maintaining a healthy diet. Balancing our family’s plates with the right proteins, carbs, and veggies can feel like a daunting or even impossible task without proper practice.  Below are some considerations everyone should take when trying to maintain the proper balance, so we all don’t come crashing down into unhealthy lifestyles!

Portion and proportion

The food pyramid was created to understand healthy proportions of various food groups in a diet. Unfortunately, a pyramid isn’t the best shape for explaining ratios, so the food pyramid went through a few makeovers over the years. In its current incarnation, the food pyramid is known as MyPlate, a dinner plate-shaped guide to understanding a balanced diet. But the challenge doesn’t end there. You could eat a totally balanced diet with the proper ratios of carbs to protein to veggies, but if you stack your plate a mile high or eat too small a meal to satisfy your needs, the end result could still be unhealthy for you. You’ve got to remember both food group balance and overall intake to achieve a healthy diet.

For more information on Myplate, visit  https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Think big picture

One bad meal is not going to undo all your hard work, and one good meal is not going to undo a whole day of unhealthy eating. Health is a cumulative experience. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Think of how your meals relate to each other. Looking back to the original plate-spinning analogy, you’ve got to think carefully and consider the other plates you’ve already got spinning before you grab another if you want to be successful.

Convenience

Convenience has been a constant hurdle in the lives of busy people trying to maintain a healthy diet. Now it’s different. There are a lot of good, convenient options at your local grocery store that just need to be microwaved, like minute brown rice or frozen veggies. Even some fast-food restaurants now have healthier options on the menu if you’re in a rush.

Every body is unique

Some healthy foods may not agree with your body. There is no true “one size fits all” diet, but there are some general guidelines like MyPlate. Your body is an engine, so try out different fuels to see what makes your body run best. Maybe the proteins you’re eating make you run slow and sluggish, try a plant-based protein and see if that gives you a few extra horsepower. If excess dairy makes your engine, uh, “backfire” too frequently, look for other options to find your calcium and vitamin D.

Framing your decisions

Look at healthy eating as what you’re choosing to eat, not what you can’t have. It may just seem like wordplay, but researchers have actually found that mental framing may be a factor in making healthy food decisions. The mind is more powerful than the body, and a healthy mind makes for a healthier body!

Spring Forward!

Adjusting your mind and body to the time change

This weekend, we will all adjust our clocks and spring forward, but chances are, no one will be springing anywhere for a few days. Losing an hour of sleep can really throw off your sleep cycle leaving you groggy, tired and most likely running late. Plus, the darker morning tricks your body into thinking it’s not actually time to wake up. Luckily, it only takes a day or two to adjust your internal clock to the new schedule. Although short, those couple days can be rough, so we pulled together some quick tips to get through daylight savings.

Clear your mornings.

The Monday after springing forward can be brutal. Maybe Tuesday, too. It’s no small task to get up and going on an hour less sleep, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be running late. If possible, block your morning schedule, so you can ease into the day rather than rushing through the morning. If working from home is an option, this would be a great day to do it.

Eat to sleep.

Avoid foods and beverages that interfere with your sleep. About four to six hours before bedtime say no to sugar, alcohol and caffeine.

Go into the light!

Light suppresses the secretion of sleep-inducing melatonin. Exposing yourself to sunlight will help with the adjustment to the time change. Open the blinds and curtains! Let the natural light in!

Conversely, when it’s time for sleep, do not expose yourself to light. If you get up at night to go to the bathroom, use a nightlight rather than turning on the lights.

Turn-off when you turn-in.

Help your body adjust to the time change, by getting good sleep. Get your mind and body ready to snooze by turning your devices off. Laying in bed on your phone or tablet stimulates your body and brain. Read a book instead, take a warm bath, listen to calming music, pick-up an eye mask – whatever you find helpful in falling to sleep.

Take your hour back.

Allow yourself some extra time leading up to the time change and try to go to bed early to make up for the hour you are about to lose. Making-up for the lost time, ahead of time, can help your body transition into daylight savings.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Author: Natalie Baer, MD

It’s called SAD for a reason

As the sun sets on the summer months, days get shorter and the temperature drops, so does our mood. Snow, scarves and holidays are a novelty and enjoyable for a few weeks after the heat of summer, but the dark, cold days of January and February bring much less joy to many. If you find your mood changing (not for the better), at the same time every year, you may have seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This mood disorder typically comes and goes when the season changes. The most common form of SAD appears in the fall and resolves in the spring or summer.

The signs and symptoms of SAD are similar to those of non-seasonal depression, but typically improve or go away with warm, sunny weather. Here’s what to look for starting in the fall or early winter:

  • Low energy
  • Fatigue and hypersomnia
  • Increased appetite and overeating
  • Loss of interest, including withdrawal from social activities or people
  • Desire to be alone (may feel like hibernating)
  • Suicidal thoughts

Like non-seasonal forms of depression, there are treatments available to combat SAD. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and whether you have another type of depression, the treatment for SAD may include:

  • Medication
  • Bright light therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Vitamin D
  • Changes to sleep hygiene, outdoor walks and regular exercise

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are four-times more likely to be diagnosed with SAD than men. Other factors that may increase your risk of SAD include: living far from the equator with major shifts in seasons, and a personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder. Age can also have an impact on whether you get SAD. Young adults seem to be affected more frequently than children, adolescents and older adults.

If you’re feeling any or all the symptoms of SAD, make an appointment to see your provider. They can help find the best treatment plan to get you feeling better.

Under Pressure

Get pumped about managing Hypertension!

Considering nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, it’s a term we hear frequently, but what is it exactly? High Blood Pressure or Hypertension is when the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries is consistently too high. When left untreated, hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. It’s normal for our blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day, but when it stays high for long periods of time your heart can be damaged leading to health problems or even death. The good news is, there several steps you can take to manage hypertension and live a healthy life!

Stop Smoking.

You should do this today. Smoking is harmful for many reasons and we encourage all patients who are smokers to quit immediately. It’s often easier said than done, so check with your provider for some strategies to ensure you quit smoking for good.

Exercise.

Physical activity strengthens your heart, and a stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort, thus decreasing the force on your arteries and lowering your blood pressure. For some patients, exercise lowered blood pressure enough to quit taking medication. Daily exercise can also prevent hypertension as you grow older. If you are implementing a new exercise routine, or starting to exercise for the first time, be sure to chat with your doctor before you begin.

Eat a Heart Healthy Diet.

In other words: put down the salt shaker! Incorporating the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) into your daily life can have a big impact on not just hypertension, but your health overall.

DASH DIET:

  • Eat more vegetables and fruit
  • Eat less foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fats
  • Eat more whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts
  • East less sodium, sugar and red meats

The diet itself is pretty simple but following it can be a challenge. Try making small changes at first and ease your way into a new diet. Add a serving of vegetables at lunch and dinner, choose fruit, plain popcorn or low-fat yogurt as your afternoon snack, switch to low-fat dairy products, limit how much butter, salad dressing or other condiments you use, and if you don’t know already, learn to read food nutrition labels and choose low sodium foods.  

Take Your Medications.

You may not be able to manage you high blood pressure with diet and exercise alone, but there are medications that can help you reach your blood pressure goal. Talk with your doctor about the right approach for you. They will know when it’s time to work medications into your routine. Once you are prescribed a medication for high blood pressure, it’s important to take it exactly as directed. If you are not able to follow your physician’s instructions, be sure to discuss your options at your next appointment. Don’t make changes to your treatment without guidance from your doctor.

Monitor Your Blood Pressure at Home.

Once you implement changes into your lifestyle, it’s important to monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis to understand if you are going in the right direction. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s important to check it daily to ensure your numbers are stable and staying in a safe zone. Check with your provider for best practices for measuring your blood pressure at home. They can also help you find the right fit when it comes to purchasing a cuff. Once you’re ready to go, use this helpful log to keep track of your numbers for the month.

Good Dog!

Owning a dog may be good for your health.

If you’re a dog person, you are familiar with the warmth a pup can bring into a home. Dogs are always happy to see “their person” and provide endless affection and joy. It tuns out, they do all that and more – owning a dog may actually be good for your health. According to the CDC, some of the health benefits of pet ownership include: decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduced depression, and improved physical health. Owning a dog is not the sole answer to reducing heart disease or high blood pressure, but it may be a practical part of your overall strategy. So, how do those puppy dog eyes positively impact a person’s health? Read on for four ways a four-legged friend may improve your overall wellbeing.

Get and stay active. There are few things to motivate someone to get off the couch and take a walk like a whining dog. Dog owners are more likely to meet fitness recommendations each week than a person that does not own a dog. Whether taking the pup for a walk, or stepping outside to toss a tennis ball, dogs motivate their owners to get active.

Reduce stress. Dog are trained to be therapy or service animals for a reason. They have been found to reduce anxiety and blood pressure and increase serotonin and dopamine (neurochemicals that boost your mood and overall wellbeing).  

Improve your mood. Dogs may even help keep depression at bay. In addition to increasing serotonin and dopamine, they provide structure and meaning to their owner’s life (as an owner, you must get up in the morning to walk or let your dog out), encourage socialization and prevent isolation and loneliness. For some, having the structure and companionship of a pooch can help protect against cognitive decline and depression.  

Benefits for kids. There is evidence that exposure to a pet at a young age may lower the risk of becoming allergic to animals later in life. Little ones may even develop a stronger immune system. Dogs also present an opportunity for children to learn about responsibility, empathy and independence.


While dogs provide several health benefits, there are also risks associated with having a dog in your home. Dogs and other pets cause a number of falls each year, especially for older adults or people with mobility issues. If you’re considering adopting a dog, chat with your doctor first.

Cold Versus Flu

You know when it’s coming – that foggy feeling, muscle aches, sneezing. You’re getting sick. You start to consider your plan of attack, but first you need to know what you’re dealing with. Is this a cold or something more severe? Read on to learn difference between cold and flu symptoms.

What is the difference between a cold and flu?

Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the flu.

What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?

The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Are you suffering from flu or cold symptoms? Still need to get the flu shot this season? Save your spot in line at an IHA Urgent Care near you.  

Forming a Healthy Habit

The key to making and keeping new healthy habits

With the new year comes a fresh start and for many people an opportunity to make some positive changes in their lives. With great intentions, they head off into the new year determined to make a go of this year’s resolutions. Too often, busy lives take over and resolutions are abandoned after just a few weeks.  Forming new, positive daily habits is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Read on for some advice on how to incorporate a new habit into your daily routine and make your 2020 resolutions stick!

Pick one goal.

Don’t spread your willpower too thin. Focusing on one goal at a time will increase your chances of actually achieving it.

Look at the small picture.

Rather than setting a resolution for the whole year, start with one month or even one week. Your goal should feel attainable with as little pressure as possible.

Make a sub-habit.

There are things you do every single day without even thinking about it: brushing your teeth, feeding the dog, walking into the house after work, you get the idea. Try setting your goal as a sub-habit of one of your already established daily habits. For example, “after I feed the dog, I will take him for a ten-minute walk” or “when I walk in the door after work, I will put my workout clothes on and run one mile”.

Take it one (baby) step at a time.

When forming a new habit, a low-level commitment is much easier to work into your day. Start with simple tasks that make it almost impossible to fail. Once you get started, you may find yourself doing more. Here are some suggestions for daily micro-commitments:

  • Take a 5-minute walk
  • Write one paragraph in your journal
  • Eat one serving of vegetables

Plan for obstacles.

Weather, time, cost or illness will no doubt present a challenge in achieving your goal of forming a new healthy habit. Plan ahead for challenges and be ready to work through them. Come up with “if-then” statements to help make it over predictable stumbling blocks;

  • If I am not able to sustain the cost of a gym membership, I will walk in my neighborhood or local mall
  • If I am not able to walk outside due to weather, I will do floor exercises in the basement for 20 minutes
  • If I’m not feeling well enough to walk or do a full work out, I will lift weights for 10 minutes

Hold yourself accountable.

We all have the friend that checks in at the gym every day on social media. Well, maybe they have the right idea. When your progress is monitored or witnessed by others, you are more likely to follow-through with your commitment. Consider creating or joining a group with similar goals, and post or text each other when you complete your daily goal. You may also want to tell your primary care physician about your goals and expect to follow-up next year or at your next exam.

Reward yourself!

Take time to celebrate your success! Having something to look forward to will motivate you along the way. Choose rewards that support your new healthy habit – avoid rewarding yourself with sugary treats or days off from your new habit. Instead, download new music for your workout routine, see a movie, or grab lunch with a friend.


Have you scheduled your 2020 wellness exam? Make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss some health goals that may benefit your physical and psychological well-being.

Healthy Holidays

6 Tips for a healthy holiday season

There’s nothing like the holidays. For many people, the holidays mean reuniting with family and friends, lots of hugs, handshakes and – So. Many. Germs. (Of course, the holidays are in the heart of flu season!) We’ve pulled together some tips for staying healthy during the holiday season, so your New Year is merry too.

  1. Wash your hands every chance you get. This is great advice for adults and children alike. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Especially after greeting family or friends. You may want to bring along a couple travel size bottles of hand lotion. All that washing can dry your skin.
  2. Bundle up! Depending on where you are celebrating, wear weather appropriate clothing and outerwear. Doing your best to stay dry and warm will help keep you well.
  3. Don’t stress. Well, manage your stress. The most wonderful time of the year is often the busiest. Take time out for yourself and your family if you are feeling overwhelmed. Seek support from family and friends and get your sleep.
  4. Keep your eyes on children. When you’re hosting or part of a large gathering, it’s easy to lose track of kids. Keep potentially dangerous decorations, candles, drinks and food away from children. Work with the other adults in attendance to ensure someone always has an eye on the children in the group.
  5. Prepare and consume food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly. If you aren’t sure about the hygiene of the kitchen or the length of time the food has been sitting out, don’t eat anything that can potentially get you sick.
  6. Take care of yourself. Get your annual exams checked off for the year or catch up on your vaccines over the holidays.

In spite of your best efforts, if you catch something other than the holiday spirit this season, don’t stress. IHA Urgent Care locations have holiday hours. Don’t spend your holiday waiting in a waiting room. Save your spot in line at an Urgent Care location near you, and wait at home.

Give Thanks

Create grateful hearts with a Family Thankful Jar

When we are consumed by the everyday hustle, it’s hard to stop and express gratitude to and for those around us. Thanksgiving presents the perfect opportunity to do just that. As the holiday approaches, consider making a family thankful jar to give everyone a chance to express what they are thankful for every day.

Here’s how you can make your own Family Thankful Jar:  

  1. Grab a jar, plastic container or old Easter basket. If they are up for it, have the kids decorate the jar.
  2. Cut up strips of paper & place near the jar with a pen
  3. Encourage the family to jot down a daily gratitude. If you have guests coming to dinner, have them add a note to the jar too!

Once Thanksgiving dinner is done, sit down together, open the jar and read through the notes of gratitude. Taking the time to appreciate each other can have an amazing impact on family dynamics. Thanksgiving is a reason to get started but continue to model and encourage gratitude all year long. Make opening your gratitude jar a monthly event, or have everyone express one gratitude at the end of each day.


IHA Urgent Care locations are open on Thanksgiving! Don’t spend your holiday waiting in a waiting room. Save your spot in line at an Urgent Care location near you, and wait at home.