Fall 2017 Grantees

Corner store

Community-University Partnership Grant Program

Title: Creative Approaches to Healthy Food Incentives for North Minneapolis Retailers

Community PI(s): Miah Ulysse, Northside Fresh Coordinator & Policy Manager, Appetite for Change/Northside Fresh Coalition

University PI(s): Jamie Bain, U of M Health and Nutrition Extension Educator, Metro Region - UROC Office

Co-Investigator(s): Sophia Lenarz-Coy, Hunger Solutions; Kristen Klingler, Minneapolis Health Department; Leah Porter, Twin Cities Mobile Market; Winston Bell, Wirth Cooperative Grocery; Ousman Camara, K’s Grocery and Deli; Jessica Rochester, MN Department of Services

Amount Awarded: $50,000

Length of Project: 1 year

North Minneapolis has long been labeled a food desert and associated with a lack of healthy, fresh, and affordable food options. Northside Fresh Coalition is seeking funding from Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives to design and implement an incentive program that will increase fresh and local produce affordability and purchase from Northside food retailers who have a commitment to serving the community. The proposed project will establish Fresh Bucks, a transactional incentive program that would allow SNAP customers to stretch their dollars and purchase more produce. The intended result will be 1) increase produce purchase and consumption, 2) provide demand for Northside/locally grown produce and 3) generate traffic and revenue to newly established community-focused Northside food retailers.


Title: Urban Farming Institute: Year 2

Community PI(s): José Luis Villaseñor Rangel, Executive Director, Tamales y Bicicletas

University PI(s): Lorena Munoz, Assistant Professor, Gender Women and Sexuality Studies and American Studies, University of Minnesota

Co-Investigator(s): Britt Howell, Fitness and Nutrition Coach, Health, Wellness and Cultural Arts Community

Amount Awarded: $50,000

Length of Project: 1 year

The Urban Farming Institute’s goals are to educate youth of color about strategies to increase healthy food production and consumption by creating a sustainable pipeline youth and young adult leaders that disseminate information through CBPR processes to their families and to the community at large. The overall goal of Year 2 of the Urban Farming Institute (UFI) community research project, in the East Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis is to continue educating Latinos, East African and American Indian youth and their families about sustainable urban farming towards creating greater access to healthy foods and healthy food practices. The Urban Farming Institute was set up in year 1 and now forms part of the community garden initiative of the East Phillips non-profit community organization Tamales y Bicicletas (Tamales and Bicycles). Year 2 of the Urban Farming Institute (UFI) will continue the project partnership between East Phillips community youth and their families, the Tamales y Bicicletas community organization, the University of Minnesota faculty and undergraduate students.

Title: Building Hmong Farmers' Capacity and Self-efficacy to Tackle Soil Fertility Issues

Community PI(s): Pakou Hang, Executive Director, Hmong American Farmers Association

University PI(s): Julie Grossman, Associate Professor, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota

Co-Investigator(s): Mark Zumwinkle, Research Director, Hmong American Farmers Association; Peyton Ginakes, Post-doctoral Associate, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota

Amount Awarded: $49,913.00

Length of Project: 1 year

Hmong farmers provide much of the locally grown fresh produce in the Twin Cities, yet often work on low fertility soils due to limited land tenure possibilities. Cover crops are useful alternatives to costly synthetic fertilizer options, and additionally provide a multitude of environmental benefits. In particular, legume cover crops are capable of transforming abundant atmospheric nitrogen into a form of nitrogen that crop plants can use. Both the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) and the Grossman Lab at the University of Minnesota have demonstrated the utility of zone tilled cover cropping practices, where cover crops are maintained between crops rows that are tilled only in the crop’s growing zone. The goal of this project is to examine the effect of three modified zone till systems at the HAFA Farm (white clover between rows and regularly mowed, white clover between rows without mowing, and allowing weed growth in rows). Hmong farmers will have a strong voice in determining experimental design (eg, choosing cash crops, timing of field activities), methods (eg, mowing frequency, harvest practices), and data collection (eg, cover crop biomass, soil health assays). Soil health and fertility parameters will be assessed and shared through multiple participatory and culturally-appropriate farmers trainings, presentations, educational events, and farm tours. Overall, results will increase Hmong farmers’ confidence in and ability to use legumes in zone tilled cropping systems for intensive vegetable production.


Title: Nudging Our Way to Health

Community PI(s): Mary Mitchell, Director, Bemidji Community Food Shelf

University PI(s): Linda Kingery, Executive Director, University of Minnesota Extension – Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

Co-Investigator(s): Hannah Klemm, BCFS Farm Manager; Deb Dilley, Extension SNAP Ed; Dan Handeen, College of Design, University of Minnesota; Jim White, Chair, Department of Human Performance, Sport and Health, Bemidji State University; TBD, BCFS Assistant Farm Manager

Amount Awarded: $24,854.00

Length of Project: 1 year

To improve outcomes for food shelf users, particularly the Native American population, participatory research will be conducted to determine what types of produce – focused on the produce that can be grown on the farm, high tunnel and deep winter greenhouse - food shelf users are currently using and how they are preparing them. With its partners, BCFS will engage with customers through surveys, focus groups, sampling and culturally appropriate education. The results of this study will help determine what will be planted in the Deep Winter Greenhouse and in the spring, the farm and high tunnel as well as finding ways to reduce barriers for customers regarding interacting with, and volunteering on, the farm.

Faculty Planning Grant Program

Title: Community Based Social Marketing with Somali Grocery: In-store Interventions Address Food Security and Diabetes Management

Investigators: Serdar Mamedov, M.S., CHES®, Extension Educator, Health and Nutrition Programs, Center for Family Development, U of MN Extension; Melissa Laska, PhD, RD, Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota; Muna Sunni, MBBCh, MS, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, Assistant Professor, Pediatric Endocrinology, University of Minnesota; Hikaru Peterson, Ph.D, Professor, CFANS Applied Economics, University of Minnesota; Molly Zins, MS, University of MN Central Executive Director for the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships; Anne Dybsetter, MS, University of MN Southwest Executive Director for the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships; Kathryn Draeger, Ph.D., University of MN Statewide Director for the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Adjunct Assistant Professor, CFANS Agronomy/Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota; Naomi Olive, B.A., University of MN - Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Program Associate, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems; Abdulahi Dohe, M.Sc., University of MN - Extension Program Associate, SNAP-Ed Educator, Health and Nutrition Programs, Family Development

Amount Awarded: $9,849

Length of Project: 6 months

This project addresses the Healthy Foods Healthy Lives (HFHL) priority of food security through the development of a comprehensive grant proposal that will focus upon partnering with Somali communities to both enhance healthy food retail and the health of Greater Minnesota’s Somali population as it relates to managing diabetes. Ensuring food security, through access to culturally relevant, healthy foods in rural retail settings, is both a HFHL priority and a primary Minnesota Food Charter strategy. With the goal of securing a larger grant, the team will develop a plan for an intervention-control study using the experimental model “community based social marketing” of produce in rural stores. This tailored-fit model is innovative in that it is led in part by community leaders. Although small store healthy food interventions are not new, the use of actual community members in direct marketing is novel. Additionally, there is a severe lacking of information on small-store interventions in peer-reviewed literature.

Title: Neuroinflammatory biomarkers in obesity and cognitive decline

PI(s): David A. Bernlohr, PhD, College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota; Tammy A. Butterick, PhD, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota; Michael K. Lee, PhD, Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota; Joshua P. Nixon, PhD, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota

Amount Awarded: $10,000

Length of Project: 6 months

This project would help define the relationship between brain immune response, obesity, and cognitive decline. The short-term goal for this application is to characterize genes that promote neuroinflammation and subsequent cognitive decline following high fat diet and obesity. Our long-term goal and underlying health problem that will be addressed is to leverage this knowledge to develop targeted therapies to treat cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases such as AD. Diet-induced neuroinflammation thus represents an unexplored link between brain immune response and metabolic processes to dietary fat within the context of cognitive decline, and may represent a novel clinical therapeutic target.