The University of Minnesota Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives (HFHL) Institute was founded in 2007, evolving from a 2003 University of Minnesota Presidential Initiative of Robert Bruininks. Dr. Mindy Kurzer, Professor of Nutrition, is the founding Director of the Institute. The founding units are the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), the School of Public Health (SPH), the College of Veterinary Medincine (CVM), Extension and the Medical School. A 25-member Advisory Board including faculty and staff from across the university was established in April 2008.
The mission of the HFHL Institute 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. The priority areas for focus are food safety, prevention of obesity and chronic disease, food policy and food security. Within these priority areas, of special importance is the integration of agriculture and medicine.
Since 2009, HFHL has hosted and co-sponsored research symposia within the realm of health, food, and agriculture. A major focus of these convenings is to provide broad perspectives through examples of real-world applications. Certificates are available to food and nutrition professionals seeking continuing education credits from institutions like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Native American Nutrition Conference
In an effort to develop and improve relationships between Western Science and indigenous people, and as a result of a generous gift from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, HFHL has helped and organize an annual conference on Native American nutrition since Fall 2015 that draws researchers, government officials, funders and key people within various Native American communities.
HFHL offers hands-on cooking courses for students and the general public. Cooking for Wellness courses are open to anyone looking for a simple budget-friendly guide to healthier, more flavorful meals at home. The interdisciplinary, experientia,l for-credit courses FScN 2001 & 2002 provide students the knowledge, critical thinking and technical skills necessary to make food choices based on nutritional, environmental, and local and global societal issues.
Current and Long Term Objectives
The major goal of the HFHL Institute is to utilize and help build the strengths of the University of Minnesota in the area of food and health to advance scientific and public knowledge and influence public policy. This will be done by:
Funding interdisciplinary research teams whose goal is the development and implementation of cutting edge extramurally funded research and training programs;
Increasing connections and communication among researchers within the University;
Developing cross-college programs to expand and coordinate teaching in these areas and to provide innovative training and mentoring opportunities for junior faculty, graduate and professional students and high-performing undergraduate students;
Encouraging transdisciplinary learning, discussion, and problem solving;
Promoting community/University partnerships to enhance community-based research and to translate University research for the benefit of Minnesota communities and to share knowledge for collaborative problem-solving; and
Communicating University findings and their impact to the public, lawmakers and members of the agricultural, food industry and health sectors.
MN Food Charter
Beginning in the fall of 2013, HFHL was proud to convene a 27-member Minnesota Food Charter Steering Committee which was responsible for guiding the development of the Minnesota Food Charter--a shared roadmap for how all Minnesotans can have reliable access to healthy, affordable, safe food--and for compiling and summarizing data from a statewide input process. HFHL continues to serve as the home for the ongoing work related to the Minnesota Food Charter and the building of a network that will continue to accomplish the goals of the Food Charter.
HFHL Institute Informational Brochure
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