Health+Harvest

NPR Illinois Community Advisory Board identified the subject of food and health as important subjects for coverage in 2012. Health+Harvest provides for community engagement on health and food issues along with reporting on farm, field and fuel.  From seed to plate, from farmer's markets to GMOs, central Illinoisans need to know how to stay healthy and what they are eating.  In 2013, NPR Illinois joined a consortium of public media in the Harvest Public Media network.  The network provides broader coverage to Midwest food issues.

By examining these local, regional and national issues and their implications with in-depth and unbiased reporting, Health+Harvest fills a critical information void.

Support for Health+Harvest coverage comes from Central Illinois Farm Bureaus and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  If you'd like to support this initiative, please contact Nice Bogdanovich at 217-206-9847.

Mental illness can run in families. And Dr. Kafui Dzirasa grew up in one of these families.

His close relatives include people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. As a medical student, he learned about the ones who'd been committed to psychiatric hospitals or who "went missing" and were discovered in alleyways.

Dzirasa decided to dedicate his career to "figuring out how to make science relevant to ultimately help my own family."

Several Dutch celebrities are being heavily criticized after announcing they would no longer take part in public efforts to combat COVID-19 and for their apparent support of a conspiracy theory suggesting that the government is using fear of the virus to control the population.

With the hashtag #ikdoenietmeermee ("I no longer participate"), the musicians and influencers, led by 21-year-old rapper and model Famke Louise, posted videos to social media saying they were opting out of campaigns to promote social distancing and the use of face masks.

Traditional door-to-door trick or treating should be avoided this Halloween, under new national guidelines. But even with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest advice, Americans are still rallying to safely bring the spooky season to life. People are discovering new, creative ways to celebrate the occasion during the pandemic.

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Two police officers were shot last night in Louisville.

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Updated Friday 2:15 p.m. ET to include a comment from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The federal government is preparing to crack down aggressively on hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data daily into a federal data system, according to internal documents obtained by NPR.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Jesus Gonzalez was about a year into starting a Cuban food catering and "pop-up" business in Lexington, Ky. It's like "a food truck, but without a truck," he says.

His steadiest gig was setting up tables with a spread of Cuban food at local breweries so people could eat while quaffing pints. But then all that shut down. And he says things aren't back to normal enough yet for the breweries to bring him back.

President Trump on Wednesday decried reported health agency efforts to issue stricter guidelines for evaluating a vaccine against COVID-19, accusing the Food and Drug Administration of playing politics.

Trump was apparently reacting to a Tuesday report in the New York Times that said the agency will soon move to tighten requirements for emergency authorization of any coronavirus vaccine to better ensure its safety and effectiveness.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, whose mask-wearing habits have been publicly inconsistent and who has declined to issue a statewide mandate for face coverings, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Republican governor's wife, Teresa Parson, has also tested positive.

In a brief video statement, Mike Parson said he is awaiting a second test to confirm the results.

California will phase out the sale of all gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 in a bid to lead the U.S. in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging the state's drivers to switch to electric cars.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that amounts to the most aggressive clean-car policy in the United States. Although it bans the sale of new gas cars and trucks after the 15-year deadline, it will still allow such vehicles to be owned and sold on the used-car market.

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It's a bit hard to describe Vietnam's Intergenerational Self Help Clubs.

But one thing is easy to say. If you're older — like above the age of 60 — and need help, the club will help you get it. That could mean a microloan if times are tough, a drum lesson as a chance for self-expression and social activity (and to prove that old people can play drums, too). And during the pandemic, the clubs have played a critical role informing and supporting its members.

There are around 3,000 of the clubs in Vietnam, with 160,000 participants, most of them older people.

Jean lost her job as a school bus driver in Chicago during the pandemic. She was managing OK with unemployment money. But then, about two weeks ago, she got a desperate call from her adult son.

"His job had laid him off, and he wasn't able to pay rent," she says. There was an eviction moratorium in Chicago, but Jean says the landlord wanted her son out anyway.

She says the landlord got someone to threaten her son, and to shoot his dog — a German shepherd mix he'd had for years.

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Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET

At least 380 pilot whales have died off the coast of Tasmania in what experts are calling Australia's largest recorded mass-stranding event.

Nearly 500 whales have been stranded on a beach and two sandbars along the western coast of the island state.

Data gathered early in the pandemic showed that communities of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 across the United States. But incomplete data left a muddy picture of these disparities.

Today, as the U.S. has surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, and reached nearly 7 million confirmed cases, racial data is more complete, and the trend is crystal clear: People of color get sick and die of COVID-19 at rates higher than whites and higher than their share of the population.

Wildfires near cities have become commonplace in the Western United States, but this year the reach and intensity of the dangerous air pollution they produce has been the worst on record.

Many Americans in populous, urban areas endured smoke for longer than previous years. Some places experienced very unhealthy or hazardous air from wildfires for the first time ever recorded.

Uncle Ben's will now be known as Ben's Original.

Food giant Mars, Incorporated said Wednesday that it is changing the rice brand's name, which has faced criticism for racial stereotyping. It said the change signals "the brand's ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing the world's best rice."

Mars also said it will remove the image of the elderly Black man in a bow tie from its packaging.

The venerable Sizzler USA family steakhouse chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing a business environment roiled by COVID-19 restrictions — and saying that not enough has been done to help restaurants survive.

"Our current financial state is a direct consequence of the pandemic's economic impact," Sizzler President Chris Perkins said, "due to long-term indoor dining closures and landlords' refusal to provide necessary rent abatements."

Updated at 1:37 p.m. ET

Amid criticism from Democrats that politics may be guiding decisions at the nation's top health agencies, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration told Congress on Wednesday that a coronavirus vaccine would not be approved until it met "vigorous expectations" for safety and effectiveness.

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A new national effort asks K-12 schools to voluntarily — and anonymously — report their confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases, along with the safety strategies they're using.

The United States is home to the world's best-known technology companies, but so far the use of smartphones to fight the coronavirus has been tepid at best.

Smartphones have the potential to be a powerful tool in tracking the spread of COVID-19. They can tell you exactly how close you've been to other people, for how long and keep a detailed log of everyone you've been around for the last 14 days. Linked to testing systems, they can rapidly alert you if someone you've been in contact with tests positive.

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What has the president's decision to leave the Paris Agreement meant for climate science? Rebecca Hersher is with NPR's climate science team. Good morning, Becky.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Good morning.

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Up until now, the debate over the Supreme Court vacancy has been a story of process and power.

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Updated at 7:00 a.m. ET

More than 100,000 people are taking part in studies to see if one or more COVID-19 vaccine candidates actually work.

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