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A Helpful Guide to Quit Smoking or Drinking

Smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol can cause addiction and other serious health issues.

The risk of diseases associated with tobacco and alcohol increase for those who drink and smoke.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 443,000 people in the United States die of illnesses caused by tobacco each year. Meanwhile, about 88,000 die from alcohol-related illnesses.

Diseases caused by smoking tobacco

Smoking cigarettes can cause various types of cancer and chronic illnesses, including:

  • Strokes
  • Cataracts and blindness
  • Periodontitis (gum disease)
  • Chronic heart disease (high blood pressure)
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (difficulty breathing)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancer of the larynx, stomach, trachea, lung, esophagus and others

Note: Even those who do not smoke, but are exposed to cigarettes and tobacco, can develop health problems caused by second-hand smoke.

Free resources and help centers to quit smoking

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a good resource for smokers, offering plans to quit smoking, self-help materials, and a helpline at 1-800-784-8669, or 1-800-332-8615 (TTY for the hearing impaired).
  • Smokefree.gov offers tips on how to quit smoking as well as pamphlets, information about medications and other advice. You can also subscribe to SmokefreeTXT to receive helpful messages on your phone.
  • The CDC also has information about community tobacco control programs, campaigns and events in your state.

Diseases caused by alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can cause:

  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Cardiomyopathy (stretching of the heart muscle)
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcohol-induced hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreatic blood vessels)
  • A weak immune system
  • Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast

Free resources and help centers to stop drinking

SMART Recovery helps young people and adults with alcohol or other addiction through group therapy sessions. You can attend in person or seek an online support group.

Read this note in Spanish.

Child Nutrition Programs for the New School Year

Healthy eating habits and a nutritious diet can help children do better in school.

The federal government provides free or low-cost Child Nutrition Programs in more than 100,000 public schools, nonprofit private schools, kindergartens and preschools.

These programs, provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, are aimed at school-aged children from low-income families.

1. National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

Through this program children may receive breakfast and lunch for free or at a reduced cost. The price you pay for meals depends on which state you live in and your income level.

If your children attend a school that’s enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, they are eligible to receive breakfast and lunch daily throughout the academic year.

Note: Some schools also provide free snacks to children who attend certain after-school programs.

Program features

  • It’s available for children and students under 18.
  • It’s offered throughout the school year at public schools, nonprofit private schools, and preschools.
  • The breakfast and lunch menu is the same for every student.
  • Everyone receives equal portions that meet USDA nutritional requirements.

How to enroll

Contact or visit your child’s school to find about the program requirements and application process. Enrollment procedures may vary depending on the school.

2. Special Milk Program

Milk is provided free or at a reduced cost to children who are not already enrolled in any other USDA program. The price of milk depends on which state you live in and your income level.

Program features

  • Milk is available throughout the year at schools, nurseries, half-day pre-kindergartens and kindergartens.
  • The milk contains vitamins A and D, is low in fat and meets the standards of the USDA.
  • Every student receives the same kind of milk and quantity, one cup or ¼-liter.

How to enroll

To participate in the Special Milk Program, contact or visit your child’s school and ask about the program requirements and application process.

Contact your USDA state agency for more information about child nutrition programs.

Read this note in Spanish.

A Helpful Guide to Moving

If you plan to move, planning ahead can save you time and money.

Things like packing and finding a reliable moving company are just some of the ways you can avoid problems. And, depending on your situation, you may be able to deduct moving expenses from your federal tax return.

When you’re ready to move, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

Packing

  • Instead of packing what you don’t use anymore, sell anything you don’t need. You can also donate clothes or household items that are in good condition to charity.
  • Use recycled packing boxes. Look for unused boxes at local stores or supermarkets. Save the boxes if you have a moving date ahead.
  • Write on the box what it contains, for example: kitchen utensils, bathroom towels, tools, cosmetics, etc. This will make it easier to unpack in your new home.
  • Use newspaper to wrap any fragile or delicate items.

Choosing a moving company

  • Request written quotes from various moving companies so that you can compare rates and services.
  • Make sure to pick a moving company that has a number with the U.S. Department of Transportation, known as U.S. DOT #, and check if the mover is properly registered.
  • Make sure the company offers damage insurance.
  • Check to see if the moving company has a history of complaints by calling your state or city’s consumer protection office.
  • Thoroughly read over all the terms in your contract, as well as any other documents related to your move, before signing.

Note: If you would like to register a complaint against a moving company, get in touch with the Department of Transportation at 1-888-368-7238, or file it online.

When filing your taxes

If your move this summer is work-related, you may be able to deduct moving expenses on your next federal income tax return if you meet certain requirements:

  • You move close to the date you begin your new job.
  • Your new workplace is at least 50 miles farther away from your previous home than your old job location was from that home.
  • You work full-time for a specified amount of time after moving.

Read this post in Spanish.

Summer Safety Tips

With warm weather comes more opportunities to explore new places, spend time outdoors and share quality time with friends and family.

Swimming, walking or having a picnic are just some of the many things you can do together during the Summer.

To enjoy these activities safely and accident-free, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

Water safety

  • Supervise your kids, as well as other children, when playing or swimming in the ocean, lakes, rivers or pools.
  • Only use life jackets certified by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Avoid swimming in rough or deep water.
  • Respect “No Swimming” signs.
  • To prevent choking, make sure children do not eat or chew gum in the water.
  • If your home has a swimming pool, install a protective fence around it. Be sure to place a cover on the pool when it’s not in use.
  • Take cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes to help people who are drowning or choking.

Protection against sun and heat

  • To avoid dehydration or heat exhaustion, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine or too much sugar.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Also wear sunglasses and a hat that covers your face and ears.
  • Apply sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher a half an hour before any sun exposure. Reapply several times a day, or according to the product directions.
  • Keep your lips hydrated with a lip balm that contains sunscreen.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure when ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Try to spend the majority of your time protected by cool, shady areas.

Food safety

  • If you’re camping or you plan to do any outdoor cooking, use a cooler with ice to keep your food refrigerated. Make sure to keep the cooling temperature (PDF) at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling any food.
  • To avoid cross contamination, separate raw meat from other food, and place meat on its own plate or tray.
  • Make sure meats are cooked and served at an internal temperature (PDF) of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
  • Immediately refrigerate or freeze any leftovers. Don’t leave perishable foods out in the open for more than two hours.
  • To avoid getting food poisoning, follow these tips for eating safely at fairs and festivals.

For more information about food safety contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.

Read this note in Spanish.

Keep your home free of summer pests without pesticides

Summer temperatures can be pleasant, but the warm weather is also attractive to insects and rodents.

This is the time of year when ants, roaches, mice and other pests make their way into your home, especially if they find the right living conditions. All they really need to get comfortable is water, food and a place where they can hide or reproduce.

You can fight these pests without pesticides if you follow these suggestions:

Restrict access to food sources

  • Tightly close any food packaging, like boxes and bags of cookies, chips, cereals or candy, so that ants or roaches can’t get in.
  • Store items such as flour, sugar, rice or pasta in airtight bags or plastic containers.
  • Clean any food spills or stains off the countertop, floor, and other areas throughout the kitchen.
  • Do not let crumbs sit in pet dishes, as this can attract cockroaches, ants or rodents.
  • Remember to take out the kitchen trash frequently, preferably every night.

Limit access to sources of water or liquids

  • Try not to leave water drops or other liquids in the kitchen or anywhere else around the house. Roaches can’t live more than a week without water.
  • Wash and dry your dishes immediately after each meal.
  • Repair leaky faucets or pipes in the bathroom, kitchen, backyard and any other area of the house.
  • When gardening or watering plants, don’t leave puddles or excess water. Standing water encourages mosquito reproduction.
  • Open the bathroom window after bathing to clear out the steam; these tiny drops are drinking sources for cockroaches and other insects.

Limit entry access to your home

  • Seal cracks around pipes, doors and windows to stop insects from getting inside.
  • Repair holes or tears on screen doors and windows.
  • Close off the spaces underneath doors.
  • Before coming home from a shopping trip, make sure there are no roaches hiding inside bags or grocery boxes.
  • Throw away or recycle unwanted boxes or wrappers.

Put mouse traps inside and outside the home in areas where children or pets can’t access.

Read this note in Spanish