University of Minnesota
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
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Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives

Uniting Researchers and the Community to Find Innovative Solutions around Food and Health

Welcome to the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives (HFHL) Institute!  Our mission is to increase and sustain the University's impact in the interdisciplinary arena of food, agriculture, and health by building the University's capacity in research, learning, and community engagement.

This website is your portal for learning about what’s going on at the Institute, gathering health and wellness resources, and becoming a part of the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives community.

Science, Democracy, and a Healthy Food Policy Forum 

A Lewis M. Branscomb Forum
Date: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Time: 4:30-7:00 p.m. CDT (5:30- 8 p.m. EDT), with reception to follow
Location: UMN Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Minneapolis, MN, or via live webcast

HFHL-Unionof Concerned Scientists logoThe Union of Concerned Scientists cordially invites you to a public forum at the University of Minnesota on May 6. This event will be a one-time opportunity to join leading experts and advocates and engaged citizens throughout the country to explore how science can be a more valuable tool in advancing healthier food environments for communities nationwide.

Secure your spot today— click here to RSVP here and view the program and presenter lineup, which includes:

Mindy Kurzer, Chair, Minnesota Food Charter Steering Committee 
Don Shelby, Former WCCO-TV anchor (moderating)
Michele Simon, Public Health Lawyer; Author of Eat, Drink, Politics
R.T. Rybak, former Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Join this dynamic discussion to learn about the latest science-informed policy solutions from distinguished experts and attendees and share effective strategies and tools for public engagement that can improve our food systems.

Today, our nation’s food policies are largely not being informed by scientific evidence that can help guide us to safe and healthy food systems, and the consequences are dangerous. Yet as we struggle to help shape a national healthy food environment, there is a lot we can learn from states and localities leading the charge toward healthier and more equitable and sustainable food environments. It is time for effective local efforts to be recognized and replicated, and for scientists and other experts to become more active and valued partners in the advancing the movement toward a healthier food system.

For any questions about the event, email Danielle at

This May 6 forum at the UMN tackles how science can help create safer, healthier food systems. RSVP to secure your seat:

HFHL - MN Food Charter logo

Join us to learn about the Food Charter findings!  Hear what Minnesotans said about healthy food access.

After a year’s worth of more than 150 Minnesota Food Charter events, online surveys and virtual townhall forums, the results are in! If you hosted a Food Charter Event last year, or if you're a concerned citizen, you’ll want to hear the specifics on Minnesota’s healthy food future.

Please mark your calendar for 11 a.m. to Noon on Wednesday, January 29, for the “For Our Healthy Future: Minnesota Food Charter Findings” webinar. During this live webinar, you’ll learn about and discuss what people from all corners of the state have said are the most important barriers and opportunities for healthy food access.

Click here to access the dial-in and webinar details.

Call for Faculty and Graduate/Professional Student Research Proposals and Community-University Planning Grant Letters of Interest

Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute is pleased to issue a request for proposals (RFP) and a request for letters of interest (RFLI) for three spring funding opportunities: 

The focus of the University Research Grant Program is to fund new, interdisciplinary faculty research teams that include members from at least three distinct disciplines and that produce research that has a high potential for growth and for becoming self-supporting over time. The priority areas for focus are food protection (safety), prevention of obesity and diet-related disease, and food policy. Within these priority areas, of special importance is the integration of agriculture and health sciences.  Proposal submission deadline: April 14, 2014

HFHL also seeks Graduate and Professional Student Research proposals to fund research and/or other activities related to broadening interdisciplinary learning in the areas of food, agriculture, and human health. Graduate student research requests should seek to establish cross-disciplinary learning and engagement.  Proposal submission deadline: April 14, 2014.

The Community-University Planning Grant Program is designed to provide seed funding for the development of promising, authentic community-university research partnerships related to food, nutrition and health. The expected outcome of this award is that teams prepare and submit a grant proposal in the fall 2014 funding cycle or to other equivalent University, government and/or private sources.
Letters of Interest (and supporting documents) submission deadline: April 21, 2014.
Funds for all three grant programs will be distributed through a competitive review process.

For more details, you may view or download the RFPs and RFLI by going to the HFHL Grant Programs page.

Governor Dayton and Minneapolis City Council Recognize October 24, 2013 as FOOD DAY


HFHL - Food Day Logo 2013 croppedGovernor Dayton and the Minneapolis City Council both recognized Thursday, October 24, 2013 as Food Day in the state of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis.  Read the Governor's state proclamation here.  Read the Minneapolis City Council resolution here.

View photos from the U of M Food Day 2013 celebration here:


Thank you to the U of M Food Day sponsors for making the event a success:

U Students Like Good Food
Office for Student Affairs
TCF Bank Sponsorship Assistance Fund
Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
University of Minnesota Extension, Cooking Matters, Simply Good Eating
PEACE Coffee
Small Planet Foods
Animal Rights Coalition
Gardens for Humanity
Compassionate Action for Animals
Whole Foods
Grain Up Minnesota
U Students Like Good Food
Down in the Valley Bakehouse
FScN club
Do It Green Minnesota
Open Arms MN
Cooking Matters
MN Nice Spice
Bergin Fruit and Nut Co
Kirschner Colection
Cornercopia & MN institute for sustainable agriculture
Dice n spice
Second Harvest Heartland
PB Crave
Bee Free Honee
Sustainability Services- It all adds up
University YMCA
Bonus Vivus
IonE sustainability Department
Minneapolis Public Schools
Blue Diamond Nuts
Bare Fruit
Angie's Kettle Corn

Spring 2013 HFHL Grant Recipients Announced 

HFHL is pleased to announce that over $200,000 was awarded in the spring grant cycle to nine projects within three of our grant programs: University (faculty) Research (2), Graduate and Professional Student Research (4) and the first-time Planning Grant Program (3). While each grant program has its own focus, the overarching goals of all of our grant programs are to fund high-impact research that utilizes and helps to build the strengths of the University in the area of food and health, that advances scientific and public knowledge and that influences public policy.

The University Research Grant award winners includeHFHL - Playful Design Photov2 a research team that is developing a tool to calculate and measure the variety and nutritional quality of food purchased by local food banks. Another faculty research team is exploring how playful design can be used to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Graduate student grant HFHL - 2012 Food Day Dining Servicesv2recipients will be exploring research topics such as: Whether or not there is variation in the health and dietary behaviors of international students adapting to US culture and what role acculturation plays in spreading obesity among this student population; another student project may have important implications for agricultural programs in developing countries that seek to promote economic development through cash crop production programs that in turn adversely affect household health and nutrition. 

The Planning Grant program is being piloted this year and it supports the development of authentic and sustainable community-academic partnerships related to food, health and nutrition. Project members from the three Planning Grant teams that were awarded are expected to utilize community-based participatory action research and other community-engagement strategies to address community-identified problems as well as prepare and submit a grant proposal this fall to our Community-University Partnership Grant Program. The focus of the planning grant projects include:

Full descriptions of awarded grants can be found here.

HFHL is very excited about the work that was funded this past grant cycle and we wish researchers much success.

Congratulations to our 2012 Grant Recipients

Photo: Participants in one of the projects awarded in 2012 - the Harvesting Healthier Food Project: A program of safe food handling practices for immigrant farmers.  Farmers are attending a hand-washing station building session.

HFHL-HmongFarmersMINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (01/31/2013) —Childhood obesity prevention, food safety practices for immigrant farmers and a study of how cruciferous vegetables affect tumors in mice are among the topics funded through a new series of eight grants from the University of Minnesota’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute.

One set of grants involves partnerships between university researchers and community groups; the other group involves researchers from across the university. All of the roughly $50,000 grants are aimed at funding start-up projects that will have a significant impact on food, health and agriculture.  Read more here...

View a PDF of the 2012 awarded grants and learn about our current RFPs here


Soy foods can help reduce 
hot flashes, University of Minnesota study finds

HFHL Director Mindy Kurzer co-authors analysis

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (04/09/12) — Menopausal women can find relief from hot flashes by taking soy isoflavone supplements, a new study from the University of Minnesota and other research institutions has found.  Past studies have yielded similar results but individual studies were considered inconclusive.  For the new analysis, researchers evaluated 19 past trials from 10 countries to reach broader conclusions.  The statistical analysis of the findings involved trials that included 1,196 women for hot flash frequency and 988 women for hot flash severity. The results are published in Menopause, the Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

Read UMNews article here.
Read other headlines here.
Read more about the study here


Learn to Cook!
1 Credit Lab!


FScN 2002
Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives:
Cooking on a Student's Budget
Mon or Wed 3:30-6:30 | McNeal Hall
Questions? Contact Kris (
Click here for more details and to view course syllabus.

Call for faculty and graduate student research proposals and Planning Grant letters of interest from community-university partnerships

HFHL is pleased to invite proposals from interdisciplinary faculty research teams, graduate and professional students and promising community-university partnerships seeking funding to support research in the areas of food, agriculture and human health.  For more details, please see HFHL Grant Programs.

HFHL Advisory Board Member Sarah Gollust awarded McKnight Land-Grant Professorship

HFHL - Sarah Gollust

Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Gollust who was recently selected recipient of the University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship, a two-year award designed to enhance the careers of the University's most promising junior faculty. Read more...

Minnesota Food Charter and MindMixer 


Join the Minnesota Food Charter efforts and help spell out Minnesota’s principles and priorities about food to shape food-related policies and practices. Contribute your thoughts and talk with others on how best to create healthy, affordable food access for all!

Visit MN Food Charter MindMixer and start sharing your valuable insights today!

To learn more, watch the MN Food Charter MindMixer video:

Food Day 2013 at the U

HFHL-Food Day 2011 logo

View photos from the U of M Food Day 2013 celebration:


HFHL Advisory Board Member Shaun Kennedy
Discusses Food Fraud on
Dr. Oz

HFHL - Shaun Kennedy and Dr. Oz.

Dr. Shaun Kennedy, Associate Professor in the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine and HFHL Advisory Board Member, discusses on Dr. Oz the shocking truth about intentionally mislabled foods sold in supermarkets. (Aired Feb. 2013)  View video.

HFHL Newsletter
Summer 2013

 HFHL - SummerNews2013

The American Medical Association Recognizes Obesity as a Disease

HFHL - AMA Obesity Announcement
Mamta Popat/AZ Daily Star, Associated Press

 The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease, a move that could induce physicians to pay more attention to the condition and spur more insurers to pay for treatments - both efforts would would help in the fight against heart disease (via Andrew Pollack, New York Times).

HFHL Featured in

HFHL is featured in this month's edition of Engaging U spotlight. In the interview, Program Coordinator Jawad Towns provides highlights of the Institute's engagement work in the surrounding communities. Click here to read the profile.

4th Annual Symposium Videos and Presentations


Unable to attend this year's Healthy Foods Summit? No worries. View Day 1 and Day 2 videos and presentations here.

Students STAND UP to be AGvocates!

Connect with other Researchers on Campus!

Fill out this brief form describing your research interests in Food Policy, Food Safety or Obesity/Chronic Diseases.

Student Opportunities & Resources

Check the Student Opportunities and Student Resources pages for info about other food, health and agriculture-related student organizations, internships, volunteer opportunities and more.