Hi again…!

Hi again everyone! It’s been a while since we’ve last posted, so we decided to start to get back on track. First things first, a warm welcome to all of our new followers and an even warmer hello to our dedicated previous followers. Go Folic! Get Healthy is a nutritional project we have created here in San Francisco. We are all about YOU! Our primary focus is ensuring every female of child-bearing age gets the proper amount of folic acid (according to the NIH an average of 400mcg). Go Folic! Get Healthy is so committed to making sure every female in SF can get adequate folic acid we provide FREE VITAMINS!! Currently you can come to 30 Van Ness, suit 210 during business hours (Monday – Thursday, 1pm-4pm) and we will give you a free bottle of multivitamins.

Folic Acid Awareness Week is January 5, 2014- January 11, 2014 and during that week we will have so many great activities going on in the community, but most importantly that will be the start of your local community clinics distributing multivitamins. Way more convenient, right?!

WHAT IS IT REALLY? What is folic acid?? Folic acid is water-soluble B vitamin, which is important for women to get before, during, and after pregnancy. Folic Acid helps produce DNA and form healthy new cells. The process of creating new healthy cells is inevitably important to a developing fetus.

WHY? Why, you ask. 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned! WHAT THE FOLIC?? So all you women out there who are not planning on having a baby anytime soon and women who are…. Listen up…. Folic Acid is VERY important in helping reduce the number of babies born with neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are defects in the brain or spine of the developing fetus, which ultimately lead to various problems when the baby is born.

So now that we know why us ladies should take folic acid if we get pregnant, let’s talk about the other reasons we want to take folic acid. How many times have you looked in the mirror and wondered when is your hair finally going to grow out of the, not-so-hot-haircut-anymore? Well ladies, fortunately the answer has been right in front of us. Yes, you guessed correctly, the answer is folic acid. Folic acid has shown to increase the rate of hair and nail growth. And speaking from first hand experience here at Go Folic! Get Healthy, we have experienced it ourselves!

So let’s recap… to help prevent any neural tube defects from happening, as well as to expedite your hair & nail growth, a daily multivitamin with 400mcg of folic acid, as well as eating folate rich foods help reduce your chances (or grow longer hair)! You can find folate (the form of folic acid once it gets broken down in the body) in food such as dark green vegetables, beans, and fortified cereals. In addition, a few fruits such as, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, oranges and grapefruit juice also are rich in folate.

Well ladies and gent’s (those of you wise guys who want to ensure their girlfriend, wife, sister, cousin, etc. stay healthy) it’s been a pleasure… This is just the start of many more blogs to come. As we continue to blog we will get more in depth of the specifics of folic acid. If there are any specific questions on folic acid please comment and let us know. Also, if there are any topics in particular you want to know more about, we can also take request for blog topicsJ

Until next time, keep folicin’ San Francisco.


Welcome, Sarah Shaw!

New SFDPH Family Planning Program Intern, Sarah ShawGo Folic! and the DPH Family Planning Program would like to welcome our newest intern, Sarah Shaw, who will be working on several qualitative evaluation projects that will help us to improve our family planning and preconception health services. While not working directly with Go Folic! Sarah’s work will complement that of this program, and so we intend to feature it on this blog from time to time.

Here is Sarah’s introduction, in her own words!

I am a recent graduate from UCLA, earning a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Society and Genetics. Go Bruins!  I hope to pursue a MPH beginning in fall of 2014 and to eventually do fieldwork in South Africa surrounding women’s health and HIV/AIDS. I am interested in applying and developing gender transformative intervention strategies and utilizing methods such as Boal’s Forum Theater to generate discussion surrounding cultural constructions of gender norms and how these influence health issues in both men and women.

During my gap year I will be working as an intern for the DPH Family Planning Program. I am excited to apply my background in qualitative data analysis and project evaluation to projects focusing on areas of women’s health and health education.  I will help design and implement a qualitative assessment of young women’s attitudes toward LARC, other hormonal contraceptives, and experiences with health care among various populations in San Francisco. I will also conduct focus groups as a means to evaluate the effectiveness of the new Adolescent Health Education Curriculum that is being launched in high schools within the San Francisco Unified School District this year. In addition, I will be involved in coordinating Title X Advisory Board and Materials Review Committee Meetings, updating the Pregnancy Referral Manual and researching public health strategies that target the health of women, children and adolescents in San Francisco which are currently in place.

On a more personal note, I am a very active person and sports have always been a major part of my life. I grew up playing competitive soccer and have recently gotten into rock climbing with my brother. My anthropology degree has fueled my interest in different cultures of the past and present and last year I was lucky enough to participate in an archaeological field excavation in Scotland. I have now officially caught the travel bug and hope to backpack throughout Europe and/or South America at some point in the future!

Go Folic! @ Balboa High School for National Nutrition Awareness Month

Amanda, SFSU Health Education Intern and Marcia, Balboa Teen Health Center Health Educator and Fair Organizer

Amanda, SFSU Health Education Intern and Marcia, Balboa Teen Health Center Health Educator and Fair Organizer at the Go Folic! Table

March is National Nutrition Month®, a time to focus on making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year’s them is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” The idea is to decide on your own version of healthy eating, taking into account your lifestyle, what you like to eat, and the cultural and ethnic traditions that you grew up with. As we’ve done every year since Go Folic! started, we staffed a table. In addition to distributing free vitamins, we gave out recipe brochures that included Latin American, African American, and Chinese dishes. We also gave out samples of a dish we call Easy Couscous, a fiber and folate-rich dish that you can make in less than 10 minutes!

Go Folic's Easy Couscous

A photo of our Easy Couscous

Easy Couscous was the brainstorm of caterer Claudine Dagit, owner of Stilleto and Spice, who has helped us develop dishes and cater special events, like the San Francisco Black Infant Health Project’s Nutrition and Health Fair a couple of years ago.

To Make Easy Couscous

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/4 cup of Water
  • 2 tbs olive oil
    extra virgin olive oil from california
  • 1 cup of couscous (sort of like rice, but made from wheat – the whole wheat version is even tastier than regular)
    whole wheat couscous
  • 1/2 can of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans, they are high in folate)
    Canned Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 jar of sundried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
    sundried tomatoes in olive oil
  • A container of crumbled feta cheese
    container of crumbled feta cheese

How you make it:

STEP 1: Boil 1 1/4 cups of water with 1 tbs of olive oil

STEP 2: Add 1 cup of couscous to water, stir and cover.  Let the couscous sit for 5 minutes

STEP 3: Chop 1/2 jar of sundried tomatoes & add to couscous

STEP 4: Add 1/2 can of garbanzo beans

STEP 5: Mix well and enjoy!

Coming Next Week!

The NOW (Nutrtion Outreach Workers) table at the Balboa High School Nutrition & Health Fair

The NOW (Nutrtion Outreach Workers) talbe at the Balboa High School Nutrition & Health Fair

It was fun visiting different booths.  Many of them were run by peer educators and leaders, like the at left.  This one was put together by the San Francisco Unified School District’s Nutritional Outreach Workers.In addition to snacks, they had a jeopardy-style game to test your nutrition IQ. We video-taped the program director, Adrienne Wilson, about what she thought about “Going Folic,” a tape that we’ll post next week.

Go Folic! and SFDPH Welcome Daniella Coker!

We are excited to welcome Daniella Coker to the Go Folic! family.  Daniella will be interning with Go Folic!’s parent organization, the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Family Planning and Preconception Health Program.  Daniella, an intern from the California Family Health Council’s Family Title X Open Doors Program will be doing an assessment of San Francisco women’s family planning and preconception health needs.  Here is Daniella in her own words!


Daniella Coker is an intern from the California Family Health Council's Open Door PRogramHi, my name is Daniella Coker and I am a recent graduate from UC Berkeley in Molecular and Cell Biology. I speak Spanish and am half Italian from my mother’s side, although she was born and raised in Venezuela. I love photography, camping, and traveling. I have been to Europe, Central and South America, and hope to visit Southeast Asia someday!

One of the things I am most proud of is actively seeking out and becoming involved in UC Berkeley’s chapter of MEDLIFE, because it inspired my interest in the field of public health. This club provided me with the opportunity to visit Ecuador and Peru to learn about their healthcare systems, and to provide clinical support to local physicians.

My basic clinical duties included assisting gynecologists with Pap smears, interacting with women to encourage them to be tested, and maintaining a comfortable environment for those who were already being tested. It was clear that many of these women felt embarrassed to discuss their reproductive health and/or had never gotten a Pap smear during their previous visits to the doctor’s.

This experience taught me first-hand the prevalence of discomfort regarding the topic of reproductive health. We cannot deny that we are not sexual beings. Unfortunately, people of many cultures tend to feel embarrassed when talking about reproductive health, even though it is as an important aspect of health as our mental and physical well-being.

I held various laboratory positions during college, working on projects ranging from studying the effects of stress on the growth of neuronal stem cells to optimizing a DNA extraction method for a biotechnology company. My most recent position was for three months in Managua, Nicaragua studying the incidence of different influenza subtypes in children. This laboratory position, however rewarding, motivated me to look for public health opportunities outside of the lab, thus landing me the position within MCAH’s Family Planning Program.

I am very excited about interning with MCAH’s Family Planning Program, not only because of its emphasis on preventative care but also because these resources are being made accessible to people of varying socioeconomic statuses and cultural backgrounds. I will be working on this year’s needs assessment of Family Planning services within SFDPH’s community clinics. I am most excited about fulfilling an active role for this study and getting hands-on experience with a different aspect of public health research!

Thoughts and Reflections of an Intern: Why Public Health is Important


Go Folic! Intern, Sharonya Shrivastava

The end is near.

It is the end of another semester of the college experience, another school year, my time as a lowerclassman and my time as a younger Berkeley student.

As finals fast approach, I look inward and think to myself, what have I learned over the course of the past semester? Has the knowledge I have accumulated been put to use and then simply discarded, or have I retained enough to pull through these last couple of weeks with accomplishment? These reflections are crucial, not just to the successful completion of my semester, but for life in general.

Mark Twain once said, “I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.” Though I don’t completely agree with the sentiment, I do think sometimes learning in school must be separated from knowledge through experiences, surroundings and life in general.

So what have I learned during these past 12 or so weeks that has strengthened my teenage wisdom? Well, enough to know that change affects in the deepest of ways, but is an important experience. With new experiences come new realizations, and I had quite a few epiphanies of this kindthis semester. Many ideas were affirmed me, and at the same time, I was made aware of things I didn’t realize I didn’t know.

  • The fact that life is all about balance. Affirmed.
  • Time management is key for task completion. Affirmed.
  • But first impressions can change in the most dramatic of ways? Unbelievable, even to this day. I was made aware of limits I didn’t realize existed, and capabilities I never knew I could reach.

If I could talk about any particular aspect of my education at length, it would have to be the public health information I have learned this semester. In almost a four month time period, I feel as if my public health knowledge has vastly expanded, and I have gained more of an understanding of public health as an idea, a mission, and a goal, rather than as just another occupation on the job market.

I learned absolutely everything revolves around information, a point that attending school for the past 16 years still had not driven home. This is why change is so crucial, because it spurs new ideas, fresh perspectives and a whole new outlook on life and its possibilities. I feel I gained this, and more, during my time spent as an intern for the Go Folic! Nutrition Project.

One of the most important aspects that came to my attention was that the resources for the health and well being of people are out there. There are so many organizations and groups established, dedicated to helping people and doing good deeds in the community, and all it takes is for people to know of their existence. Though some may be small, they are strong, in their causes and the aid they provide. 

I have no doubt in my mind that people can gain the greatest help or insight from a simple nutrition project, or a school health center, because each individual organization is so important and powerful in the grand scheme of health and human life. I know I often take for granted and accept the status of my life, but I, and hopefully people in general, will keep reminding themselves that help and support is always there whenever its needed, whether it is in the form of family, friends or organizations such as these.

This is why public health is so important. It is a field that teaches compassion, critical thinking, awareness and acceptance. It advocates simple but powerful ideas, such as solving a problem by going back to the source, gathering information and research to gain ideas and teaching awareness to promote understanding.

Public health is so important to me, now more than ever, because it has affirmed and supported my desire to pursue medicine, something that I have been questioning and grappling with my reasons for some time. But on top of that, I have come to the conclusion that public health is the perfect complement (and basis) to the medical career, and at this moment in time, I would like to pursue both in the future because of my experiences up until today. Medicine provides knowledge about the underlying issues of public health problems, while public health seeks to provide a broader outlook on health beyond the individual, specialized interactions, and together, with all the awareness and information each field provides, the possibilities for change can only be beneficial.

I am so thankful for the people I have met, the experiences I have had, and the ideas I have learned. I will continue to be inspired and motivated by the great work being accomplished in the health field, medicine and public health alike. I hope that one day, I too can have such an impact on the people and world around me as all this has had on myself as an individual.

School, health, education, awareness, realization and change. A new beginning is just around the corner.

This blog post was written by Sharonya Shrivastava.

Thank you so much for reading my blogs this semester! I wish the best of luck to the Go Folic! Nutrition Project and to all future interns who will get the chance to work and blog for this wonderful organization!

Haikus for National Public Health Week

Go Folic! is participating in the Wego Health Activist Writers Month Challenge to blog daily, based on a prompt. Today’s prompt was to write a Haiku*. Since it’s National Public Health Week, I decided to try my hand at haiku by honoring this observance.

Communities join,
Fighting for health equity.
Life supporting work.

What’s a body need?
Real food water shelter love,
Healthy Abundance.

With thanks to my coworkers, Renee and Owen, who contributed to the writing of these short odes to the work that we love. To read more health-related haiku, search Twitter with #HAWMC.  And if you have your own health-related haiku or poem, please share it here!

Shivaun Nestor, Go Folic! CoordinatorShivaun Nestor,
Go Folic! Project Coordinator


*For those who are unfamiliar, Haiku is a Japanese poetry form – 3 lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables.