About HFHL

Short History of HFHL

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. In January 2008, the first round of grant funding was distributed and since then, 67 grants and almost $4 million has been awarded to research and community projects. A 25-member Advisory Board including faculty and staff from across the university was established in April 2008.

Since 2011, the Institute has hosted an annual student-led Food Day event in October that has attracted up to 1000 attendees. Five symposia have been hosted or co-sponsored by the HFHL Institute since 2009, and beginning in Fall 2012 two major educational programs have been instituted: an academic food systems/cooking class for students and a wellness cooking class for faculty and staffBeginning 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. Going forward, HFHL will 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. 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, beginning Fall 2015 HFHL will help plan and organize an annual conference on Native American nutrition that will draw researchers, government officials, funders and key people within various Native American communities.

Mission Statement

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.

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.


HFHL Institute Informational Brochure