Operation Better Start receives Community Impact Grant from Fallon Health

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Health Systems' Operation Better Start (OBS), an out-patient nutrition program has been named a recipient of Fallon Health's Community Impact Grant for 2021. 
The funds, totaling $10,000 will help support the Food and Families program in the Pittsfield Public Schools' 21st Century After School Program.
Food and Families will partner 21st Century Pittsfield middle school students with their grandparents and/or senior friends in a nutrition education, cooking and food share after school program.  Food and Families is a collaborative community project bringing together the Pittsfield Public Schools, Operation Better Start, and Pittsfield Community Television. The grant was awarded to the Food and Families program as it meets Fallon's goals of reducing food insecurity in the community as well as decreasing social isolation for seniors.
"Fallon Health's Community Impact grant award helps to address a great need in Berkshire County," said Pete Gazzillo, Director of Nutritional Health at Berkshire Health Systems. "Our population is growing older, food insecurity is hitting 10 percent of households in the Berkshires, and we are geographically isolated. As COVID-19 has added an additional layer of isolation this funding aims to use technology and community partnerships to bring our youth and elderly population together on this key community issue. The funds are driving the innovation that needs to happen to change the healthcare landscape and address so many components of social determinants of health. We are extremely thankful to Fallon Health for this funding."
Operation Better Start strives to improve the health of young people from birth to young adult through innovative approaches to healthcare. The goal of OBS is to achieve positive changes in long-term health through an emphasis on healthy lifestyles, personal empowerment and coordination of services among healthcare providers. Healthcare needs are addressed with an individualized proactive and supportive approach to nutrition, fitness, esteem building and health education. 
"This year Fallon received applications from nearly 110 organizations—up approximately 38 percent from last year, highlighting how the current healthcare crisis has exacerbated existing social and economic inequities while presenting new challenges," said Richard Burke, President and CEO of Fallon Health. "We are inspired by the work Operation Better Start is doing in the community, and it is our sincere hope that we are able to help ease some of the financial constraints they are facing when dealing with critical issues of hunger and loneliness among older adults head on."
OBS received an award of excellence from the National Institute for Health for their contribution to the health and wellbeing of the nation's children as one of the 14 Founding Intensive Sites of the national We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition) initiative. OBS staff has successfully partnered with the Pittsfield Public Schools, Pittsfield Community Television, and The Family Y to implement two U.S. Department of Education Physical Education Program (PEP) grants from 2010-2016.

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BEAT: Conserving Flowers and their Pollinators

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Joan Edwards will speak at the May Pittsfield Green Drinks event on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:00 PM and give a slideshow presentation about the rapidly decreasing biodiversity that is taking place globally, known as the sixth extinction. 
She will specifically focus on flowers and their insect visitors. 
This sixth extinction is primarily driven by human actions, from habitat loss to climate change. The impacts of biodiversity loss are far-reaching, resulting in biological communities that are less resilient and with diminished ecosystems services. As part of the discussion, Joan will explore the impact of biodiversity loss in the pollinator-flower world and examine how the surprising dynamics of flower-pollinator networks can help to conserve both flowers and their pollinators.
Joan Edwards is a botanist interested in understanding the biomechanics and adaptive significance of ultra-fast plant movements—plant actions that are so quick they occur in milliseconds. Using high-speed video (up to 100,000 fps), she studies the evolutionary significance and biomechanics of fast movements, including the trebuchet catapults of bunchberry dogwood, the vortex rings of Sphagnum moss, the splash cups of liverworts, and the "poppers" of wood sorrel. Her early fieldwork was on the impact of moose on plants in the boreal forests of Isle Royale National Park. 
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