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Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities

Creating a culture of health through policies and programs where people live, work, learn, play, and worship.

Our Work

Our research focuses on methods of facilitating changes, from the individual level to system-wide policies, to support healthy behaviors, increase access to healthy foods and physical activity, and reduce risk factors that contribute to chronic disease.

Social Ecological Model: 1) Public policy 2) Community t3) Organizational 4) Interpersonal 5) Individual

Utilizing both the Social Ecological Model (Bronfenbrenner, 1977) and Equity-Oriented Obesity Prevention Framework (Kumanyika, 2019), our work takes place in a variety of settings such as schools, corner stores, and faith-based communities.

Our goal is to examine and affect the different levels of influence that can improve the health and food environment, leading to improved health outcomes and increased resources and capacity in underserved communities.

We address the needs of the individual and community within the social, economic, and cultural contexts where people live, work, learn, and worship.

The current landscape

In the District of Columbia, as well as across the country, where one lives has a significant impact on the opportunities to live a long and healthful life. We’ve often heard the statement “Your zip code may be more important than your genetic code for health.”

Our work is focused in Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, DC, where residents face higher rates of health disparities across many health markers.

News & Notes

April 2020: An analysis of all 50 states plus DC examined how health and wellness provisions were prioritized in State Plans and report cards required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The study was conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Health Research and Policy, with support from Healthy Eating Research.

January 2020: Melissa Hawkins, Erin Watts, Sarah Irvine Belson and Stacey Snelling published the research methodology of the 5-year Healthy Schoolhouse 2.0 program in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Dec 2019: Stacey Snelling, Sarah Irvine Belson, Michelle Kalicki and Robin McClave published findings from the Healthy from the Start program in the Journal of Education and Human Development. Stacey Snelling, Liz Cotter and Robin McClave, along with partners from DC Central Kitchen and Common Threads, were accepted to present at the 10th International Conference on Food Studies.

Healthy Schools

Read about our Healthy Schools work.

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Healthy Communities

Read about our Healthy Communities work.

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