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Diversity, a Grand Challenge and a Great Opportunity, as Highlighted by the Food Access Summit

In October, I attended a Grand Challenges forum on fostering human potential and well-being, which included themes of diversity. Then, in November, I attended the Food Access Summit and realized how relevant it was to the Grand Challenge themes of diversity. I wish to express how enthusiastic I am about all the opportunities that lie ahead in the realm of cultural diversity and the movement of inclusion as they relate to those of us in Extension Health and Nutrition.

While we may recognize some of the great contributions that cultural diversity brings — such as the opportunity to look at things from new perspectives and expand our definition of who is included in the “us” — there are still many hurdles to overcome in order to become a truly diverse and inclusive community. For example, we need to continue to take into account the growing number of immigrants in our community as we plan and go about our work. It is important to realize that immigrants have different cultural backgrounds that go deeper than the color of their skin or the language they speak. And let’s particularly remember that immigrants, much the same as the rest of the community, have a great desire to share their unique issues that matter to each and every one of them in an atmosphere of trust.

As educators we must be in the forefront of diversity and inclusion and recognize our unique position to affect change. In order to do so, it is important to make intentional efforts (take action) to foster welcoming attitudes in our food markets, parks, schools, and places of work, and to the degree that we are willing to do that will depend on our success in attaining our vision of improving the health and nutrition of all Minnesotans.

Nancy Brewster
SNAP-Ed Educator

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