Healthy Monday's Roots are in Syracuse
Syracuse has a prominent role in the history of a global campaign aimed at ending chronic, preventable disease.
The founder of the Healthy Monday Campaigns, Sid Lerner, is a 1953 graduate of Syracuse University, and SU became the first school in the country to partner with the Monday Campaigns when Lerner launched the effort in 2003.
It's now estimated that half of all Americans are familiar with Meatless Monday, the first and largest Monday effort. A quarter say that awareness of the campaign spurred them to cutback on meat consumption.
Studies have also shown that Mondays - "the January of the week," as Lerner likes to say - are a powerful day for people to set agendas and make meaningful change.
Lerner has put the two together to develop a fun, engaging, simple way to improve health that Salon.com called "utterly doable, utterly sane."
A generous gift from Lerner to the University has led to the establishment of the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at the Maxwell School, ensuring that Syracuse will continue to play a key role in this crucial public health endeavor.
In collaboration with its partners, the Center will expand Healthy Monday programming on the SU campus, and, for the first time, introduce it to the broader Onondaga County community.
The effort is already taking hold, with Upstate University Hospital announcing that it's implementing multiple Monday Campaigns at all of its facilities. The Lerner Center will be working with the hospital to evaluate the impact of their programs.
"We want to know what works and what doesn't, and to demonstrate that to potential partners," said Lerner, one of the original "Mad Man" and director of the creative team that developed the "Don't squeeze the Charmin" advertising campaign.
Lerner, 80, believes that it does work, and he has devoted much of his "retirement" to making Healthy Monday a global movement.
"If marketing can get you to buy all that junk," Lerner says of his approach, "it can get you not to."
But it's not a hard sell. The Healthy Monday approach is anything but didactic.
"You can't be saintly every day," Lerner told the Webzine GOOD. "The idea is that Mondays are a good day to start. ... It's all about incremental changes, cutting back a little here, a little there. Whatever you do, don't despair: You can always get back on the wagon next Monday. It's very forgiving."
Here's some more on Lerner and Mondays for you to chew on:
Why not Meatless Tuesdays? asks Crains New York Business.
"Monday is this magical day," Lerner says. "We say it's a trigger or reset day. There are six or seven other Monday campaigns that we sponsor, through: Kids Cook Monday, Move It Monday [for exercise] and Quit and Stay Quit Monday [aimed at smokers]. We are also working Man Up Monday in Harlem, tied into the city's free condom program. They all fall under Mondays Campaign Inc."
Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan borough president and author of FoodNYC: A Blueprint for Sustainable Food System in The New York Times: "The way to get to kids is to raise the flag: 'Give up meat one day a week. I'm not going to have Burger King or McDonald's for one day.' You've got to reach the next generation of New Yorkers early."
Campaign Aims To Make Meatless Mondays Hip on NPR: "Lerner still eats meat and enjoys it. But his wake-up call came about a decade ago. His doctor told him that his cholesterol and blood pressure were way too high, and his diet was a big part of it. His father had died of heart disease, and when he looked around, he saw these lifestyle diseases everywhere. When Lerner researched the numbers on just how much meat Americans were really consuming, he was surprised. Back in 1950, when Lerner was a young man, the norm was about 2.8 pounds of meat a week. Jump forward to 2006, and consumption increased about 50 percent."