Tag Archives: small business

Remember Veterans

Covered Bridge: Remember Veterans this Independence Day

Independence Day is almost a whole month away, but I am already looking forward to it because, you guessed it, the food. Barbecued chicken and ribs, potato salad, and deviled eggs, all in the same meal? It’s almost too good to be true. However, the holiday also moves me beyond just my stomach.

While we always have a flag flying, we have a special flag we fly on the Fourth of July. This simple act always reminds me of the many service members who have defended and still are defending our great nation. I have many family members who have served in the military and still currently are. I can only imagine that being in the military is a very challenging experience, so I am thankful there are resources available to military personnel after they serve. One such resource is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Local veteran service officers can help veterans navigate the many useful programs offered in their area. The resources they offer include help finding employment, starting or continuing an education, or launching a small business. The VA also helps people who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life, which can be a complicated process.

The VA website features an easy-to-navigate section on health topics. Some are of general interests (like cataracts), while others are topics of a specific interest to service members (like readjustment counseling). One of the department’s more pressing challenges is to provide support for homeless veterans or recently discharged service members.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, the VA says veterans make up about 11% of the adult homeless population in the U.S. and oftentimes, deal with mental illness and substance abuse.

A local resource is our Wayne County Veterans Office. Our veteran service officer is Pete McDaniel. He is located in the Annex Building and is there Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays are by appointments only. This office provides many great local resources.

I know many of you have served in the military or have friends and family who have served. Reid Health Alliance Medicare thanks all those who have protected this country and have allowed us to continue celebrating Independence Day. This year, I plan on being more about the flag and less about the food.

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

 

Farm-to-Table Dining

Long View: Fresh from the Farm and Close to Home

The concept of farm-to-table eating intrigues me. I’ve noticed the term showing up in the local, independent restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska.

Farm-to-table means the food comes directly from the farm to your local restaurant, without first going through a store, market, or distributor.

A well-loved farm-to-table restaurant in Omaha has 19 different local, independent farms as partners. Its mushrooms come from Grand Island, its walnuts from Valparaiso, its poultry from Burchard, and even its vinegar is locally produced in Cody, NE, which has a population of just 156 people. Another restaurant in Des Moines claims that 90% of its ingredients come from local farms. Even the house liquors are Iowans’.

None of this is new, really. When I visit our home office in Urbana, I like to eat lunch nearby at Common Ground Food Co-operative, which has been in business since 1974. Its website can show you a map of where your groceries came from in Illinois. The furthest any of the apples have traveled is right around 200 miles, from freshly picked trees in Murphysboro.

But does eating locally really make a difference? Science tells us that fruits and veggies begin to lose nutrients once they are picked. If they’ve been sitting in a crate on the back of a truck or in a grocery store very long, you’ll miss out on the fruit’s or veggie’s full flavor and nutrition.

And when you choose a farm-to-table restaurant, you’ll know that a lot of your hard-earned money is staying in your community. The American Independent Business Alliance found that on average, 48% of each purchase at local small businesses went back into their communities. That’s more than 3 times the amount at chain stores.

The next time you sit down at your favorite local restaurant, go ahead and introduce yourself. Find out where those delicious ingredients came from. You might be surprised how close to home their journey started.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Honoring Our Veterans

Long View: Remember Veterans this Independence Day

Independence Day is almost a month away, but I am already looking forward to it because—you guessed it—the food. Barbecued chicken and ribs, potato salad, and deviled eggs, all in the same meal? It’s almost too good to be true. However, the holiday also moves me beyond just my stomach.

To mark the day, I hang the American flag on the front porch if it’s not raining. This simple act always reminds me of the many service members who have helped defend our nation. Being in the military must be a very challenging experience, so I am thankful there are resources available to military personnel after they serve. One such resource is the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Local veteran service officers can help veterans navigate the many useful programs offered in their area. The resources they offer include help finding employment, starting or continuing an education ,or launching a small business. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs also helps people who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life, which can be a complicated process.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website features an easy-to-navigate section on health topics. Some are of general interest (like cataracts), while others are topics of specific interest to service members (like readjustment counseling). One of the department’s more pressing challenges is to provide support for homeless veterans or recently discharged service members. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that about 12% of homeless people at any given time in the U.S. are veterans.

One local group that’s fighting homelessness is C-U at Home. Executive Director Melany Jackson and her dedicated volunteers support our most vulnerable homeless citizens. Their annual fundraiser, One Winter Night, encourages public service figures, community leaders, business leaders, academic leaders, and other community members to spend the night outside in a cardboard box.

“The percentage of homeless veterans has not diminished in recent years,” Melany told me. “They typically face complex situations that need to be addressed. We strive to match them with the many services available in our area. The public awareness and donations generated by our event helps us fund this very important work.”

I know many of you have served in the military or have friends and family who have served. Health Alliance Medicare thanks all those who have protected this country and allow us to continue celebrating Independence Day. This year I plan on being more about the flag and less about the food.