Bao to talk about link between plastic containers, obesity at Science Cafe

A portrait of Assistant Professor Wei Bao of the Department of Epidemiology in the University of Iowa College of Public Health.Wei Bao, CPH assistant professor of epidemiology, will present “The Link Between Plastic Food Containers and Obesity” from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at Everybody’s Whole Foods in Fairfield, Iowa.

His talk is part of the Science Cafe series sponsored by the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center and UI Institute for Clinical and Translational Science.

Be Kind: Join in Random Acts of Kindness Week

random acts of kindness bannerThe College of Public Health Student Association (CPHSA) invites you to join the movement of spreading kindness and positivity around the college! The UI CPH Random Acts of Kindness Week runs October 23-27.

A Random Act of Kindness is a simple yet significant gesture that can really make someone’s day. This could mean writing notes of encouragement to students studying hard in the commons. It could be buying coffee for the next person in line. It could be running an errand for a busy friend or writing a sincere thank you note to your professor or advisor. Here are some more examples of acts of kindness you could do: http://www.bradaronson.com/acts-of-kindness/

Whatever gestures you decide to do, be sure to share it with others both in person with a note and on social media using the hashtag #CPHActsOfKindness and @randomacts.org to be a part of National Random Acts of Kindness organization’s mission and movement.

The most important things to remember are to be creative and spread some kindness because it does make a difference!

CPHSA members celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week by providing free bagels for students
CPHSA members celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week by providing free bagels for students

Youth groups encourage farmer safety

http://www.agupdate.com/news/state-and-regional/safety-watch-youth-groups-encourage-farmer-safety/article_a7ce138e-f72a-5b87-ab0f-ebd8d3d44992.html

Video: CPH students start academic year with service projects

At its core, public health is about working together to create a healthier world. Each fall semester, our students have the opportunity get out of the classroom and put that ethos to work by volunteering with community organizations for a day of service.

Strengthening Community Health Connections

The Business Leadership Network collaborates with Iowa’s smaller communities to address health needs.

a participant in a cooking class in Wapello County receives a free slow cooker

 

At one community forum hosted by the Business Leadership Network, an industry leader commented that it was not uncommon for as many as 15 percent of his employees to be sick on any given day. From his individual perspective, the business owner had no way to know if this was part of a trend rep-resenting a community-wide health concern. He didn’t know if other business or the local schools were experiencing similar absences, for instance. And without knowing the cause of the higher numbers, how could he hope to fix the situation?

Finding and addressing the roots of community health issues is a central goal of the Business Leadership Network (BLN). Founded in 2011 through the Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy, the BLN and the grants program it oversees is intended to foster collaboration in Iowa’s smaller communities to tackle areas of identified community health need.

Gathering Community Input

A key to the program, says Tara McKee, coordinator of the BLN, are community forums that foster conversation and help leaders discern patterns and needs.

“We start with a planning group,” says McKee of the process that goes into organizing a forum, “including the chamber of commerce and other business owners, the schools and the nearest community college, United Way, bankers, hospital administrators, and local public health officials. We ask them about the most immediate public health needs in the community, and from there, we narrow to three or four topics.” To date, topics of interest have included food insecurity, diabetes, and dental care.

During the forums, community experts present on the chosen topics, while UI College of Public Health faculty and staff provide relevant research and examples of successes from other communities. Beyond this collaborative sharing of knowledge, McKee says the forums are vital networking opportunities at which local leaders find others with common concerns. That business owner with the high absentee rate, for instance, could compare notes with a county public health official, or connect with a UI faculty member who studies absenteeism.

 

kids enjoy after-school activities at Athletics for Education and Success in Fort Dodge
Kids enjoy after-school activities at Athletics for Education and Success in Fort Dodge.

Partnering for Success

The grant program, which is in its second year, adds another layer. Not only do the BLN Community Grants provide financial support, but the program also requires partnership in order to qualify for funding.

Athletics for Education and Success in Fort Dodge has been awarded funding in both cycles of the BLN grant. Charles Clayton, CEO of the nonprofit that was founded in 2004 to provide more after-school athletic, mentoring, and educational opportunities to young people, says the grant has been helpful in gaining more partners. “People are more likely to jump on board as a result of our work with the University of Iowa,” he says. New partners include the Fort Dodge Police, who are teaching an exercise class, and coaches from the local public schools, who are volun­teering their time as referees.

After receiving the BLN grant last year, the nonprofit was able to expand weekend activities for kids. Hearing from many of the participants’ parents that they wished they had more access to fitness and athletic opportunities, Clayton and his team applied for the second year of the BLN grants and is now offering weekend family sports activities, such as dodgeball and volleyball, as well as fitness classes aimed particularly at single mothers.

 

uniforms await games at Athletics for Education and Success in Fort Dodge
Uniforms await games at Athletics for Education and Success in Fort Dodge.

Making the Most of Meals

In southeastern Iowa, the United Way of Wapello County is using its BLN grant award to extend a burgeoning program intended to help families learn easy, healthy cooking skills based on available and affordable food items. Via the grant, 25 families monthly are receiving free Crock-Pots. During a monthly class led by a registered dietician from the local Hy-Vee grocery store, participants make three meals, which they can take with them, and receive recipes for their slow cookers.

While many families rely on the local food pantry, they tend to gravitate toward easy foods, such as frozen pizzas and pasta. The Crock-Pot program will help them take raw ingredients, including fresh vegetables, dried legumes, and various meats, and create healthy meals that will extend the food and also provide greater nutrition. The recipes are specially designed to be easily edited for changing ingredients. A turkey chili, for example, can be made entirely vegetarian to reflect the availability of beans at the food pantry, or venison can be substituted during hunting season.

“We are hoping to challenge the assumption that everyone in our community is fed,” says Blaire Siems, director of the United Way of Wapello County and point person for the grant. She adds that, “Twenty-five percent of the children in Wapello County are hungry, so there’s a pretty good chance the parents are hungry, too.”

The cooking classes and the families they serve are but one thread in the complex tapestry of a community’s health, but the BLN grants are built on the belief that strengthening such threads is instrumental in supporting the health of the entire community.

This story originally appeared in the spring 2017 issue of InSight.

Watch a video from United Way of Wapello County that highlights the Crock-Pot cooking classes that were partially funded by the Business Leadership Network’s community grant program. The segment starts at the 3:43 mark.

Spotlight on Invest Health: Developing Strategies for a Healthier Iowa City

Spotlight Series LogoInvest Health: Developing Strategies for a Healthier Iowa City

Monday, April 3
12:30 -1:30 p.m.
C217 CPHB

Presenters:

Natalie Debernardi, MPH Candidate
Amanda Kahl, MPH Candidate
Vickie Miene, Deputy Director of IIPRHP
Tracy Hightshoe, City of Iowa City

Invest Health is a new initiative, funded by the RWJF and Reinvestment Fund, developed in 2016 that brings together diverse leaders from mid-sized cities across the nation to develop strategies that will leverage private and public investments designed to improve neighborhoods that are facing the biggest barriers to health equity.

The Iowa City team is focusing efforts on developing a comprehensive plan to address asthma and mental health challenges in low-income neighborhoods. The Iowa City project includes forming a broad stakeholder group with members from the health, housing, public health, banking, education, mental health, and private sectors. The project is tasked with developing a comprehensive plan including a pipeline of projects and potential funders to improve housing and health in three specific Iowa City neighborhoods. This seminar will report progress made to date on this project and next steps.

CPH alum Jake Kundert named local foods associate

portrait of Jake KundertCPH alumnus Jake Kundert of Solon, Iowa , has been hired by Iowa Valley RC&D as their new Local Foods Associate.

Together with Food System Director Jason Grimm, Kundert will work at a local and regional level to advance the Iowa Valley RC&D’s Regional Food System Initiative. Kundert will be leading the expansion of Iowa Kitchen Connect (a project that matches food entrepreneurs to kitchen space first launched in Iowa City) to four Iowa communities including Des Moines and Dubuque. He will also be supporting the Linn County Food Systems Council, assisting with production for the Grow: Johnson County initiative, and contributing to the Lettuce Grow Markets Toolkit for Iowa’s farmers market managers.

Kundert has a Masters in Public Health from the University of Iowa and brings expertise in community engagement, marketing, research, and small-scale vegetable farming on both the Iowa landscape and abroad.

Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving a six-county region in East Central Iowa (Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Linn, Poweshiek, Tama Counties and the Meskwaki Nation). The RC&D helps strengthen the area food system, assists local communities to grow their economies, fosters protection and enhancement