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Kern County

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Obesity is a growing issue in Kern County: it does not discriminate and affects all areas, incomes and ethnicities. In Lisa Krch's special report she explores how the environment affects personal health and ways in which the local government is fighting back.

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Estela Casas is executive director of Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, a nonprofit organization that promotes social change and justice by providing high-quality legal services to the low-income community. For over 35 years, the law practice has helped thousands of Kern County's poorest and most vulnerable residents with an array of legal issues, predominantly involving housing, family and children services, senior services, and maintaining economic stability.

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Carmen Burgos is program manager for the Kern Health Consumer Center (KHCC), a service agency that helps low-income residents of Kern County navigate the health care system. KHCC is a project of Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, a nonprofit organization offering free legal services in civil matters to low-income residents of Kern County. KHCC is a part of the Health Consumer Alliance, a united effort of nine legal services agencies to address the health access problems of California consumers, particuarly low-income consumers.

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Jinadu is a former Kern County public health director and health officer who is now in private practice.

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Art Sponseller is president and chief executive officer of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, a nonprofit hospital and health system trade association representing 190 hospitals in 50 of California's 58 counties -- from Kern County to the Oregon border. The Hospital Council's membership includes hospitals and health systems ranging from small, rural hospitals to large, urban medical centers. The Hospital Council works to influence state and federal legislation and regulatory issues.

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Got a great idea for a reporting project on the health of underserved communities in California or on the performance of the state's health and social safety nets?  We're offering reporting grants of $2,000 to $10,000, plus six months of mentoring, to up to eight individual journalists, newsrooms or cross-newsroom collaboratives.  Deadline to apply:  September 20.

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