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.

2014 Food Access Summit: Making food affordable for all

HFHL - Food Access Summit Flierv2About 500 people are expected to attend the third Food Access Summit: Organize for Equity on Oct. 28-30 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center to explore, expand and engage on food access for Minnesotans with low incomes. They will participate in training, workshops, networking and presentations.

“Hunger in Minnesota is real. The aim of the summit is to increase education and promote access to healthy food,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “We are making progress in that direction.”

This year’s summit will mark the public launch of the Minnesota Food Charter, a road map for improving food access in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Human Services supports the primary goal of the Minnesota Food Charter, which is to provide all Minnesotans, especially those with low incomes, with access to healthy, affordable and safe food.

In addition, over the course of almost three days, participants will listen to keynote speeches and be part of workshops. Mary M. Lee, deputy director of PolicyLink, will give a keynote speech about the role of community-based strategies and public policy initiatives for making food more accessible to people with low incomes.

Heather Wooten, Vice President of Programs at ChangeLab Solutions, will lead the workshop “Getting Started with Healthy Food Access Policies.” The workshop will help communities build strategies to promote access to healthy food by reviewing research, identifying successful policy approaches and exploring case studies.

Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Edward Ehlinger will also speak.

In a survey of last year’s attendees, 76 percent of respondents said they started or improved their work for better food access based on what they learned at the Food Access Summit. One of last year’s attendees and survey respondents noted, “I personally improved my understanding of the hunger problem and access to healthy foods. It was only during and after the summit that I began to realize the link between all these food programs, and the overall hunger/access issue in Minnesota and the nation.”

The Food Access Summit’s planning committee includes the American Association of Retired Persons; Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota; Emergency Foodshelf Network; Hunger Solutions Minnesota; Minnesota Chippewa Tribe; Minnesota Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health, and Human Services; Minnesota FoodShare; Second Harvest Heartland; United States Department of Agriculture; and University of Minnesota’s Extension and Minnesota Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute.

For more info:

Who should attend?

HFHL - MN Food Charter logo

HFHL-FoodCharter Logo and PhotoWhat did Minnesotans say about our healthy food future?

Grab your helpful, printable Minnesota Food Charter Findings Toolkit now!

The Food Charter will be released in October of 2014. In the meanwhile, you can learn and share what people said during the public input phase.

The Minnesota Food Charter Findings Toolkit makes it easy for you to generate awareness among people in your community, and quickly and easily explain the findings from the public input phase of the Minnesota Food Charter to anyone who's interested.

More specifically, the toolkit shares the challenge and solutions for healthy food access identified by people participating in an 11 month-long public input process, involving more than 2,000 people. These findings reflect participants’ opinions and perspectives about healthy food access, contributed at events and online, as well as in interviews and listening sessions.

Click here to download your Minnesota Food Charter Findings Toolkit now.

Research Spotlight: A new project is bringing more training to farmers, which means better produce for kids

HFHL-Kid from MPS HFHL ProjectIn January of this year, in partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Culinary & Nutrition Services, the University's On-Farm Food Safety Program was awarded a HFHL Community-University Partnership Research Grant to expand the procurement of fresh produce from small, beginning, immigrant and/or minority farmers in the region for Minneapolis students' school meals. The following article, written by the project's University partner, Annalisa Hultberg, was recently posted on the Simple, Good, and Tasty blog.

Did you know that Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) is buying free-range, hormone-free turkey from Ferndale market, carrots and red potatoes from the Hmong American Farmers Association, squash from L & R Produce, and kale from Gardens of Eagan?

Farm-to-school is booming at Minneapolis Public Schools, thanks to an innovative new partnership with the University of Minnesota. The university's On-Farm Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Education Program and the Minneapolis Public School Culinary & Nutrition Services are teaming up to provide training and technical assistance to farmers selling to MPS for the school meal program in an effort to boost the amount of fresh, local produce MPS can procure.

It all started two years ago, when MPS began buying large quantities of fresh produce directly from farmers for use in their school meals. While the produce was delicious, MPS quickly realized that they needed to provide some standard, hands-on training to the farmers who were supplying the food.

For small farmers, selling to a large wholesale customer like MPS can be challenging, and quite different than a farmers’ markets or restaurant. Given its scale of operation (40,000 meals a day), MPS and their vegetable processor partner Russ Davis Warehouse require that vegetables be graded into sizes and packed in certain industry-standard boxes. Given that young children will be eating the food, best practices for harvest, washing, storing and transporting produce to reduce the likelihood of contamination must be followed.

(Read More...) 

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



Reimbursable up to $200 & 50 Wellness points



FScN 2001
A Food System Approach to Cooking

Lecture: Mondays 9:35 - 11:30am, labs same as 2002
McNeal Hall
Questions? Contact Kris (
Click here for more details and to view course syllabus.

FScN 2002
Cooking on a Student's Budget

Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives:
Cooking on a Student's Budget
Mon 3-6pm OR Fri 11am-2pm
McNeal Hall
Questions? Contact Kris (
Click here for more details and to view course syllabus.

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...

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.

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).

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.