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Health and Nutrition Pilot Projects Ready for Takeoff in Three Minnesota Communities

By Trina Adler, Program Leader — Health and Nutrition
Updated July 6, 2016

Teams of Health and Nutrition staff are poised to begin what is hoped to be a long-term commitment to supporting healthy lifestyles within three Minnesota communities:
  • Milan, population 396, many of whom are recent immigrants from an island in Micronesia.
  • Browns Valley, on the border of Minnesota and South Dakota in Traverse County.
  • Dunedin Terrace, a public housing site on the West Side of St. Paul.
Referred to as “the Pilot Projects,” these initiatives are focused on the goals of creating an understanding of healthy eating and active living; improving food skills such as shopping and preparation; working toward policies, systems, environments, and social norms that support healthy choices; and improving access to healthy foods — all on a community-wide scale.

The specific programs and initiatives to reach these goals will be generated in a collaborative manner with members of each community. Community members will participate with Health and Nutrition staff in a strategic co-creation process that honors community wisdom, empowers members to be agents for change, and allows for adaptation to meet specific community needs. The Spectrum of Prevention framework will be applied to reach agreed-upon community objectives. We anticipate that the strategies and programs included in these pilot projects will expand beyond SNAP-Ed to include offerings from Family Development, other Extension centers, and partner organizations and agencies.

The pilot projects will allow Health and Nutrition to systematically document the process involved in working collaboratively within a community to effect change to support healthy eating and active living. The documentation process will help create understanding of the best practices, important decision-making points, and synergistic effects of employing multiple strategies from the Spectrum of Prevention for community change. Simone French, Ph.D., a professor in Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, is guiding the documentation and evaluation processes for the pilot projects.

The pilot projects were first conceptualized in the process of creating the Health and Nutrition Portfolio Plan (UMN login required) in 2014, and gained traction this year when they were included in the FY2016 SNAP-Ed plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.
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