Health and Wellness | Congressman Tim Ryan
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Health and Wellness

Overview

Americans are facing a chronic health epidemic which is increasing healthcare spending and lowering quality of life. Constant stress and easy access to fast food has exacerbated these problems. Healthcare expenditures in the United States surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008, with costs from chronic disease treatment accounting for over 75 percent of national health costs. Many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke are linked to dietary and lifestyle choices. Luckily, there are several promising avenues that can help Americans live more wholesome lives – such as practicing mindfulness, teaching social emotional learning and healthy eating.

Mindfulness 

I started a daily mindfulness practice a few years ago and immediately began to appreciate its practical benefits in my everyday life. It helps me harness more of my energy and pay better attention to what I am doing in relation to those around me. It can be utilized by hardworking Americans in a variety of contexts including in our schools, hospitals, military, and social services. Research shows mindfulness can help address stress related illnesses and lead to greater productivity. This is why I have created a space for other Representatives and staff to learn how to mediate and take a few minutes out of the busy days to have some quiet time.

In the classroom, teaching students how to control their emotions can help them be more successful, as well as make life easier on their teachers. Mindfulness techniques have also been proven to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – as well as those currently serving our country deal with the difficult realities of deployment. Mindfulness practices have the ability to unlock the potential of everyone from blue collar workers to white collar CEOs, and save the government money in the process. 

Social Emotional Learning 

In the last few years, I have become convinced of the necessity of teaching social and emotional learning skills to our children, and have worked with some great leaders in bringing the financial and intellectual skills and expertise to Youngstown and Warren City Schools. Social and emotional learning is a process that promotes the development of core personal competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships skills, and responsible decision-making – all within a safe, caring, and participatory learning environment.

In 2011, I introduced the Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act to allow federal funding for teacher and principal training to be used for SEL programming. As we have seen in schools in our district, SEL helps increase attendance, decrease suspensions and behavioral incidences, and improve attention and participation among students. Creating a healthy and safe environment for students to learn is essential to a quality education. I was proud that language that will help expand and make the teaching of social and emotional learning more effective was included in the ESSA. Creating a healthy and safe environment for students to learn is essential to a quality education and I am proud this bill continues to advance this important cause. I will continue to support legislation that helps our young people both boost their academic potential and teach them how to build the relationships and skills necessary to be a productive member of the American workforce. 

Healthy Eating 

I enjoy eating hot wings, burgers, and fries as much as anyone else. There is nothing wrong with eating fast food or getting desert every now and then. However, many government policies make eating bad food the most convenient and affordable option. This cheap, unhealthy food is driving up the number of Americans with diet-related illnesses, like diabetes or heart disease, which is leading to increases in health care spending. Tax dollars are currently going to big producers for corn, soy, and wheat rather than to support smaller producers for locally sourced fruits and vegetables. By shifting subsidies away from highly processed foods, we will be able to move the system in a healthier direction. I will continue to fight to promote realistic solutions to help families access nutrient rich foods, increase utilization of community gardens, and educate Americans about what they are eating.

Salad Bars in Schools 

We must do more to help raise awareness and educate our children on how to eat healthier both at home and at school. Most children consume a least half of their meals at school, with more than 32 million participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 12 million participating in the School Breakfast Program. Research shows that children are much more likely to consume healthy fresh food if there is a salad bar available for children to build and create their own meal. However, the upfront cost of acquiring the equipment and the investment in planning and administering a salad bar can be too costly for most schools to undertake with existing resources. That is why I introduced the Salad Bars in Schools Act, which supports creating a grant program that would allow schools to work with existing non-profits that promote getting more salad bars into our children’s schools.

Enrich Act

Our medical system relies too heavily on responding to illness rather than promoting wellness. We need to be proactive in encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, rather than being reactive in responding to those who are unhealthy. One way to do this would be to help our those in the medical fields to treat the whole person, rather than just their illness, by including diet and daily exercise in their treatment options. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, many physicians feel inadequately trained to provide proper nutrition advice. Furthermore, the same can be said for physical activity—although expert recommendations encourage more medical schools to teach physical activity, only 13 percent of medical schools integrate it into the curricula. That is why I introduced the bipartisan Expansion of Nutrition’s Role in Curricula and Healthcare (ENRICH) Act, which would create a grant program for U.S. Medical Schools and Osteopathic Colleges to create an integrated nutrition and physical activity curriculum program. 

More on Health and Wellness

September 20, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC — Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Chair of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, and House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report requested in June 2018 to examine food policy and how it connects to public health.

August 12, 2021 Press Release

Youngstown, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan is announcing today a $368,466 grant for Family & Community Services from AmeriCorps, the federal agency for service and volunteering to support a new AmeriCorps VISTA Project. The project will fund 18 full-time positions and provide up to $133,010 in additional funding for education scholarships for the AmeriCorps VISTA members to help pay for college, vocational training, or to assist them in paying back student loans.

August 4, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today announced $220,909 in federal funds to the City of Akron Fire Department. The award is an Assistance to Firefighters Operations and Safety Grant administered by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

July 29, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee and Vice-Chair of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement after securing nearly $18 million for all ten local Community Funding Projects that he submitted in the government funding package that passed the House of Representatives today. 

July 19, 2021 Press Release

Youngstown, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today is announcing a $125,000 federal grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for the Youngstown Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program (YUMADAOP) to enhance local ability to prevent and reduce substance misuse among youth and adults in Youngstown and Mahoning County. The grant will fund YUMADAOP’s Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, with additional support provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

July 19, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) today announced that he obtained $500,000 and several additional measures in a House Energy and Water spending bill that would benefit the community of Piketon and Pike County. Ryan, who recently met with workers and local officials in Piketon, worked with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Subcommittee to include several items in the Fiscal Year 2022 Energy and Water Appropriations bill related to the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

May 6, 2021 Press Release

Piketon, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today pressed U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to meet with Pike County community leaders to discuss the challenges the community faces due to further open-air demolition of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant and the enormous potential the 3,700 acre plant holds as an advanced energy hub if the cleanup is done with integrity and transparency. 

April 8, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC – Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) today introduced the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act. This legislation would require drug manufacturers to label medications’ ingredients, their source, and whether gluten is present. 

April 1, 2021 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today joined the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in announcing a $500,000 grant for Flying High of Youngstown and a $45,308 grant for Coleman Professional Services of Kent. These grants will be used to fund expanded treatment, recovery and workforce support services for residents affected by a substance use disorder and to develop a recovery ecosystem for the workforce in four counties.

February 24, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH) and A. Donald McEachin (D-VA)introduced bipartisan legislation to incentivize food service providers such as grocers, retailers, and nonprofits to help eradicate food deserts.

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