Home-Cooked Meals Are Good for Your Health and Your Family

By Elizabeth Carrillo, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

Like many families, my family values the time we spend together. For us, that usually involves food—specifically, making and sharing meals.

With summer around the corner, one of the things we look forward to most is enjoying the fresh fish that my uncles catch. All five of my uncles are avid weekend fishermen, and it’s a family tradition to serve the fresh grouper, sea bass, and flounder they catch during a big Sunday dinner at my grandmother’s house.

There is nothing like ceviche to bring the siblings, children, and grandchildren together. In just a short time, my mother debones the fish, while relatives chop up herbs and vegetables. The aroma of squeezed lime, cucumbers, avocadoes, and onions fills the house, while laughter and conversation are our soundtrack. A few hours later, the whole family enjoys delicious, fresh, healthy ceviche.

My mother and her eight siblings grew up in a small town surrounding Lake Chapala in Jalisco, Mexico. While they were very poor, they also grew up eating fairly healthily. Since red meat was expensive, my grandfather would often go fishing, making seafood their main source of protein. Staples such as whole beans, corn tortillas, and seasonal fruits and vegetables rounded out the menu.

Eating home-cooked meals today is an option for many, but for my mother’s family it was simply their way of life. Fast-forward to their grandchildren in the U.S. and you see a different picture. It reflects lifestyle changes over the past generation and includes some processed and less healthy foods.

There is no escaping the fact that life has changed. Everyone’s schedule is hectic today, and it is tempting to resort to convenience foods that have poorer nutritional value. However, these days there is a cultural shift to return to knowing where our food comes from and what goes into it. One way to experience this is to cook meals ourselves.

As we wrap up Minority Health Month and reflect on the health and nutrition needs of Latinos, it is important to remember that home cooking is key to improving our health and preventing conditions that disproportionately affect us, such as diabetes and obesity. Cooking at home gives us more control over ingredients, allowing us to use more natural foods, like fruit and vegetables, and less salt and sugar. It also allows us to exercise portion control, which helps us maintain a healthy weight and reduces our urge to overeat at restaurants.

If you’re reading this and thinking that you don’t have time to cook more meals at home, think again. In the time it takes you to drive to a restaurant, place an order, wait for it, and drive home, you could have made a simple, healthy meal from scratch with time to spare for your family. Preparing half of the week’s meals on a Sunday and the other half mid-week is another way to save time.

Home-cooked meals and time-saving techniques make it possible for us to enjoy more of the one thing that is beyond measurement: the special time together that comes with preparing and sharing a meal as a family. Simply put, the benefits of home-cooked meals are many.

Ready to get cooking? Check out this quick and easy recipe for a healthy meal to end your busy day!

(Click to enlarge)

This blog post and these infographics are part of Comprando rico y sano, an NCLR program supported by the Walmart Foundation and General Mills, Inc.

If DACA Works, Why Not Implement DAPA?

Living the Dream-01 (2)

By Yamid A. Macias and Janet Hernandez, NCLR

LAD_CarlaMenaCarla Mena, a young aspiring American living in Raleigh, North Carolina, who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, continues to be a committed and engaged member of her community. She is a sitting member of the Wake Health Services Board of Trustees and spends most of her spare time empowering youth through her work on the Youth Council at El Pueblo, Inc. This NCLR Affiliate taught Carla about the importance of helping Latinos achieve positive social change by building consciousness, capacity, and community action, a belief that has been part of their mission for over 20 years.

Most recently, thanks to her hard work and determination, Carla was promoted to Bilingual Project Coordinator, a full-time position at Duke University’s Global Health Institute. Now that she is a permanent employee, Carla enjoys an array of benefits including, among others, health insurance and a well-deserved salary increase. With these benefits, she can not only increase monetary contributions to her family but also contribute more to the local economy. These opportunities, however, wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for her new status resulting from DACA.

Carla recalls that she first learned about DACA on June 15, 2012. This date had a special significance to her and her family, as it marked the 10th anniversary of their arrival to the United States. “I had recently graduated from college, and learning about this opportunity was a relief,” she said. “The first question I had was, when can I apply? My family and I hugged and cried from the emotion and the opportunity that this represented.”

Today those memories are bittersweet, particularly because Carla fears that her parents—as well as thousands of other parents in the same situation—cannot join her in living the American Dream.

Although Carla’s story represents the reality that hundreds of thousands of young DACA recipients currently face, it also corroborates an undeniable fact: DACA works. This program’s effectiveness suggests that the implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) could have an even greater impact on our country’s economy and workforce.

DAPA would provide opportunities for millions of skilled immigrants to work in fields where they can earn and contribute more. If DACA recipients have demonstrated in just three years what this program can do for communities like Raleigh, perhaps it’s time to consider something more stable. As Carla puts it, “Temporary programs are helpful, but a more permanent and more inclusive solution could be better.”  Carla’s story attests to the social and economic benefits of administrative relief, however, the overhaul of our immigration policies remain a critical task that congress must undertake.

This Financial Capability Month, Naturalization Leads to a Secure Financial Future

In a nation of immigrants, becoming a citizen is a major milestone. During the naturalization process, aspiring Americans integrate more deeply into the social, cultural, and economic fabric of the United States while following a time-honored tradition of generations of immigrants who naturalized before them.

As we wrap up Financial Capability Month, it’s important to remember the many financial benefits—for both people and for the U.S. economy—that come when people change their immigration status and become more deeply tied to the nation they’ve decided to make home.

There are currently more than nine million legal permanent residents (LPRs)—noncitizen immigrants who are eligible for U.S. citizenship but have not yet applied—in the United States. Research has shown that language barriers and the high cost of the application process often dissuade qualifying immigrants from naturalizing. With a steep cost of $680—not including legal fees and the cost of English classes—many immigrants are effectively priced out of citizenship. In a recent survey of Latino LPRs, an overwhelming 93% said that they would become citizens if they could and NCLR survey research shows similar results.

Last year, NCLR developed a pilot program to help immigrants overcome this financial barrier. Many nonprofits and credit unions have successful citizenship program models that offer legalization assistance, financial coaching, or loan products, but the hallmark of NCLR’s innovative approach is a model that combines all three. NCLR worked with five Affiliates in Washington, DC (Central American Resource Center); Minneapolis, MN (CLUES Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio); Chicago, IL (The Resurrection Project); Miami, FL (Hispanic Unity); and Stockton, CA (El Concilio) to provide LPRs with both legalization services and financial coaching as they navigated the lengthy and complicated naturalization process. Self-Help Federal Credit Union, in partnership with the Affiliates, offered affordable $680 loans to help applicants with the fees.

The pilot program is in its final stages with a report on its outcomes expected in early summer. Anecdotal evidence during the pilot points to the positive impact that financial coaching has had on new citizens’ ability to better manage their household finances, build credit, and save. Research by NCLR Affiliate Mission Asset Fund shows individualized financial coaching with a loan product is an effective combination to help immigrants build a strong financial identity. Because the NCLR Affiliates offer a one-stop shop for citizenship application assistance, financial capability, and a loan product, clients are less likely to become stuck on a step of the process or lose interest because they have to visit multiple locations for services.

Though President Obama’s landmark executive orders on immigration are currently winding their way through the courts, NCLR is prepared to launch a similar program for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) if administrative relief proceeds. In this program, eligible immigrants will receive help from various nonprofits to obtain work authorization while also building a strong financial foundation with the help of financial coaches. Becoming a citizen is associated with a significant boost in income, and work authorization for DACA and DAPA residents would also significantly improve eligible recipients’ financial lives and their contributions to the U.S. economy. Pilot programs in the field, including the NCLR model, offer a path for immigrants to build a strong financial identity, particularly a credit history, which will allow them to succeed.

Weekly Washington Outlook — April 27, 2015

Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACapitol-Senate.JPG

Image Source: Wikimedia

What to Watch This Week:



On Tuesday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 1075 – To designate the United States Customs and Border Protection Port of Entry located at First Street and Pan American Avenue in Douglas, Arizona, as the “Raul Hector Castro Port of Entry” (Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 651 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 820 Elmwood Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island, as the “Sister Ann Keefe Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 1690 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 700 Grant Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the “Joseph F. Weis Jr. United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Doyle / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 172 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 501 East Court Street in Jackson, Mississippi, as the “R. Jess Brown United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 373 – Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 984 – To amend the National Trails System Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 1324 – Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis / Natural Resources Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will meet for a Joint Meeting of Congress to receive his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan.

The balance of the week, the House will consider two appropriations bills:

  • R. 2029 – Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dent / Appropriations Committee)
  • R. 2028 – Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson / Appropriations Committee)

The House may also consider this week the Conference Report to S. Con. Res. 11, the House-Senate negotiated budget resolution, and H.R. 1732 – Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee).


On Monday evening, the Senate will vote to confirm a nominee to be the Deputy NASA Administrator. Later in the week, the Senate will consider H.R. 1191, legislation that would require Congressional review of any nuclear agreement with Iran. On Wednesday, the Senate will join House colleagues to hear from his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan. It is also possible by Thursday of this week that the Senate will vote to override the President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8, which would block the National Labor Relations Board rule to speed up union elections in certain circumstances.

White House:

On Monday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for an official visit. The two leaders will celebrate the strong global partnership that the United States and Japan have developed during the 70 years since the end of World War II, and underscore the common values and principles that have made the bilateral relationship so enduring.The president and first lady will officially welcome Prime Minister Abe with an arrival ceremony, followed by a bilateral meeting and press conference. The two leaders will discuss a range of economic, security, and global issues, including progress on the Trans Pacific Partnership, Japan’s expanding role in the Alliance, and climate change. That evening, the President Obama and the first lady will host a State Dinner for Prime Minister Abe.

On Wednesday, the president will honor the 2015 National Teacher of the Year and finalists at the White House, thanking them for their hard work and dedication each and every day in the classroom.

On Thursday and Friday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday, “Birthright Citizenship: Is it the Right Policy for America?” The hearing comes after Senator Vitter (R-La.) offered an amendment several times in the last month that would require parents of children born in the United States to prove their immigration status in order for their children to receive citizenship. This amendment has been widely criticized from both sides of the political aisle as being unconstitutional and contrary to American values. Elsewhere, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee will hear from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on DHS’ FY2016 appropriations request.

Appropriations – The House will vote this week on two appropriations bills: Energy and Water and Military Construction-VA. The amendment process for both bills will be open. Elsewhere, the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee will mark-up its spending bill on Wednesday. In the Senate, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will testify before the Appropriations Committee Homeland Subcommittee on Wednesday and the NIH Director Francis Collins will testify before the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on Thursday.

Budget – The House may vote this week on a conference report on a joint budget resolution. If passed by both chambers, the budget resolution would allow the Republican-controlled Congress to use reconciliation to possibly enact sweeping entitlement, health, and other reforms that could not pass otherwise with the Senate’s filibuster rules. The Senate may also consider the conference report, which is unamendable, this week or next.

Education – The Senate HELP Committee passed its bipartisan ESEA reauthorization legislation, the Every Child Achieves Act, unanimously out of Committee earlier in April. While the bill would require states to set rigorous college and career goals, maintain annual assessments, and include English Learners in their accountability systems, civil rights and business groups remain concerned that the accountability system is not strong enough. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment during the mark-up that would require states to intervene when schools were chronically under-performing or not serving particular subgroups. This amendment was withdrawn but is likely to serve as the framework for trying to improve the bill as it moves to the floor at some point at the end of May or early June.

Health – The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the King v. Burwell case before the Supreme Court. The hearing comes shortly after Senator Johnson (R-Wis.) introduced a “contingency plan” backed by Senate Republican leadership if the Supreme Court finds against the federal government.

Border Facilities – The House will vote under suspension of the rules on Tuesday to name the Douglas Border Crossing in Arizona after former Governor Raul Castro. Governor Castro was Arizona’s only Latino Governor and also served as Ambassador to Bolivia and Argentina. He passed away earlier this month.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending April 24


Week Ending April 24

This week in immigration reform: update on Texas lawsuit challenging administrative relief; NCLR continues our blog series on deferred action recipients; and USCIS joins with local governments on immigrant integration.

Update on lawsuit challenging executive action: Last Friday the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case concerning President Obama’s November executive actions on immigration. An article in Politico notes that the court will likely rule 2-1 against the request for a lifting of the injunction placed on expanded DACA and DAPA by Judge Hanen. The oral arguments took the same tone as the political debate around the president’s contentious actions, and the next step might be taking the case to the Supreme Court. A large group of those supporting President Obama’s executive actions packed the courtroom and held a rally outside the courthouse. A decision from the three-judge panel could come at any time and those familiar with the process believe it will come within the next few weeks.

NCLR features DACA recipient Joel Sati: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog series profiles 22-year-old college student Joel Sati, originally from Kenya. Joel learned he was undocumented in high school and slowly began taking classes at Montgomery College in Maryland. He was actively involved with United We Dream and advocating for the Maryland DREAM Act. When President Obama announced DACA in 2012, Joel’s activism paid off. Our blog notes: “For Joel, the impact of receiving DACA was life-changing. After graduating from Montgomery College as a Phi Theta Kappa honor student, he was accepted into the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies at CCNY. Today, the philosophy major juggles a full course load and an internship at an immigration law firm in Harlem.” In the fall he will be applying to Ph.D. programs in philosophy and aspires to become a college professor.

Cities recognize importance of immigrant integration: This week USCIS and the city of Atlanta announced a new partnership to strengthen citizenship education and awareness efforts. Atlanta joins three other cities – Los Angeles, Chicago, and Nashville – to expand access to resources and information regarding naturalization. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed notes, “The contributions of immigrants and foreign-born residents to the cultural and economic fabric of Atlanta are irrefutable. In the City of Atlanta, immigrants are over-represented among the self-employed, and across our state, new immigrant business owners generate business revenue of $2.9 billion a year.  Despite their proven value to our city, thousands of our eligible residents have not yet completed the naturalization process. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce a joint commitment with USCIS to expand access to citizenship in Atlanta, with all its privileges and responsibilities.”

Not only do legal immigrants contribute to the local, state and national economies, but undocumented immigrants do as well. A Washington Post article highlights a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan nonprofit. The report found President Obama’s executive actions on immigration will generate an extra $845 million in taxes annually from immigrants living here undocumented. That is in addition to the $11.8 billion they already contribute.