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Conference to examine poverty, health, nutrition

The impact of poverty on the health and nutrition of Marion County residents will be the focus of a conference organized by nutrition and dietetics experts in the IU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPUI.

The conference will not only look at the extent of the poverty in Marion County but showcase a local program working to eradicate poverty and present New York Times best selling authors, Steve and Annette Economides,a couple who have gained fame as “America’s Cheapest Family” to share budget saving tips, including how families can cut their grocery bills in half.

The conference, “Poverty, Health and Nutrition — Resources for the Under-Resourced,” will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 15, in Room 101 of Eskenazi Hall, Herron School of Art and Design, 735 W. New York St. The conference is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required by Friday, March 8, because of limited seating. To register, email

The conference is sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the IU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the IU School of Medicine.

“Nutrition is integral to the health of the whole person — body, mind, emotions and attitudes,” said Karyl Rickard, a faculty member in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and director of the Leadership in MCH Nutrition (Pediatric Focus) program. “Nutrition has a vital role in ensuring a bright future for children, mothers and families.”

Yet more than 50 million Americans lived in food-insecure households, including nearly 17 million children, according to figures compiled in 2011.

“Just having enough to fill their stomachs is a priority for people living in poverty,” Rickard said. When a child is crying because she is hungry, it is easier to stop at a gas station and purchase a 99-cent candy bar than figure out in the tyranny of the moment a meal of fruit, vegetables, meat and milk, she said.

The conference schedule includes:

•1 p.m. — Dr. Lisa Harris, CEO and medical director of Eskenazi (Wishard) Health Services, will present the scope of poverty in Marion County, particularly among children, and its effects on health and nutrition.

•2 p.m. — Marie Wiese, coordinator of Circles of Support at The Julian Center in Indianapolis, a national initiative to enable people to lift themselves out of poverty, using trained volunteers called allies. Nearly all of the people the program assists make $15,000 a year or less.

•3:30 p.m. — Steve and Annette Economides, who are personal finance experts and have been interviewed on TV, radio and in magazines and newspapers worldwide including, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Fox News and CNN; and NPR. They are authors of three books: “America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on The Money;”  “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half;” and “The MoneySmart Family System – Teaching Financial Independence to Children of Every Age.” They will pesent options, resources and insights for encouraging and empowering the Under Resourced to become financially independent.