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Donate Healthy Items to the 2012 National Letter Carrier Food Drive on Saturday, May 12

The National Letter Carrier Food Drive is the largest single-day food drive in the U.S., and it’s taking place on doorsteps across the country this Saturday, May 12.

This marks the food drive’s 20th anniversary of helping millions of American families in need with the help of thousands of local letter carriers.

The National Association of Letter Carrier’s Stamp Out Hunger President, Fredrick Rolando, says the need in 2012 is particularly staggering.

“Sixteen percent of all Americans are at risk of hunger – uncertain where their next meal may be coming from. That includes 1 in 5 children under the age of 18, plus 4 million seniors who are forced everyday to choose between paying a utility bill and buying food,” he said.

Rolando reported that last year, despite many obstacles, letter carriers were able to collect more than 70 million pounds of food, raising the total amount of donations picked up over the history of the food drive to more than 1.1 billion pounds.
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Down Economy Forces Some Schools to Feed Kids Supper

When I was younger and living in New Mexico with my parents and older sister, we were by no means a rich family.

Of the many things I don’t remember about my time there as a 3-8 year old, one thing I do have a vivid memory of is walking down to a nearby park with my mom and sister to get a free lunch that was provided to families in the neighborhood who were going through particularly difficult financial times.

We weren’t starving, but the lunch certainly helped. And while some view programs like this is a handout, that isn’t always the case as they can be a great benefit to communities. Although not everyone agrees, this seems to be the case with a recent trend in schools helping out struggling families by feeding children an extra meal before sending them home for the day.

In light of the economic downturn, there have been a number of schools that have begun serving students supper in addition to the breakfast and lunch they’re already being provided during a typical day at school.
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Sesame Street Takes On Food Insecurity with New Muppet Lily

On Sunday, October 9th, you and your family can watch a Sesame Street one-hour primetime special on PBC titled Growing Hope Against Hunger with country singer Brad Paisley and a brand new Muppet named Lily.

Lily was designed to be as human as possible, in both appearance and mannerisms, to represent the more than 16 million children in the United States that are “food insecure,” a term used to describe those who have limited or uncertain access to affordable and nutritious foods. Lily was designed for this special, and there are not currently any plans for her to become a more permanent member of the Sesame Street cast.

In addition to Paisley and Lily, Growing Hope Against Hunger will include many of your Sesame Street favorites such as Elmo, and documentary-like vignettes starring real children who have experienced hunger.
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Brain Signals are Key to Weight Loss

If a dieter decreases their calories, they also decrease their brain cells’ calories. This process has recently been researched and linked to the ultimate demise of most diets. As the hungry brain cells signal the body of that hunger, appetite increases, and metabolism slows. But what if the brain couldn’t send out those signals? That’s a whole new arena we’ve never been to before.

Recently, researchers have created mice whose brains can not send out hunger signals or appetite-increasing proteins. These mice were found to be leaner and ate less even after they were starved. It’s believed that these results would apply to humans since mice are often used as human biological models.

In the study the scientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York were able to isolate the appetite-sensing neurons in the mice. These neurons are the culprits for increasing autophagy, a process where cells break down their used parts. When the breakdown of cells is increased, appetite-inducing proteins are released. Ultimately, the brain is told it’s time to eat due to these proteins.

When the researchers turned this process in the mice, their appetite-inducing proteins stayed low and even in times of starvation, the hunger signals stopped. Compared to normal mice, the mutant mice were 10 percent leaner, capable of burning more energy, and were more active. One of the most revealing facts was that these mice still ate less even after food was withheld to the point of starvation.


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Your Perception of Food Affects Your Hunger Levels

Can just the way you perceive the food you are about to eat have an impact on how satisfied you will feel afterward? That’s what researchers at Yale University set out to find when they performed a new study.

The researchers measured levels of the hormone gherkin, which is released in the stomach as a response to hunger. When your blood contains high levels of the so-called “hunger hormone,” it sends your brain the signal that it wants food.

In the study, they took 46 volunteers between 18 and 35 years old. They were told that they were going to test two new milkshakes. One of them would be labeled high fat, 620-calorie “indulgent” milkshake, the other was a no-fat 140-calorie “sensi-shake,” for being a “sensible” choice. Thing is, both shakes had the same calorie content (380). In fact, they were the exact same french vanilla milkshakes, just in different packaging.

Amazingly, the volunteers’ levels of the hunger hormone was different, depending on their perception of what they were drinking. When they were anticipating a decedent treat, their gherkin levels dramatically increased in anticipation, which was followed by a steep decline afterward. This indicates that they were more satisfied by it.
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