NC1196: Food systems, health, and well-being: understanding complex relationships and dynamics of change

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

NC1196: Food systems, health, and well-being: understanding complex relationships and dynamics of change

Duration: 10/01/2016 to 09/30/2021

Administrative Advisor(s):


NIFA Reps:


Statement of Issues and Justification

Need and Importance


While the importance of food to health and well-being is clear, the specific ways in which food systems contribute to individual and community health are not well understood. This is a complex issue, which requires improving food systems as well as changing mindsets and behaviors of individuals within the food system.


Nearly 14.3 percent (17.5 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2013. Both children and adults were food insecure in 9.9 percent of households with children (3.8 million households). Although children are usually protected from substantial reductions in food intake even in households with very low food security, nevertheless, in about 0.9 percent of households with children (360,000 households), one or more child also experienced reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns at some time during the year (USDA ERS, 2013).


According to USDA ERS (2013), the prevalence of very low food security in various types of households followed a pattern similar to that observed for food insecurity overall. Very low food security was more prevalent than the national average (5.6 percent) for the following groups:


Households with children headed by a single woman (10.8 percent),
Women living alone (7.4 percent) and men living alone (7.6 percent),
Black, non-Hispanic households (10.1 percent),
Hispanic households (6.7 percent),
Households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line (14.4 percent),
Households located in principal cities of metropolitan areas (6.3 percent), and
Households located in the South (6.2 percent).
In addition, the connection between obesity and food insecurity is increasing in the US. Studies indicate that one in three food insecure adults were obese. Food insecurity was associated with obesity in the overall population and most population subgroups (Pan et al., 2012)


Many of the food-related health problems in the US disproportionately affect children, women, ethnic minorities, and low-income people. Addressing these problems requires that we understand more about the processes of institutional change, structural conditions, perceptions, and decision-making. The environment itself determines much of what individuals can draw from it. Community norms may dictate who has access to food assistance; civically engaged communities for example provide more food assistance and make food resources for the poor more easily accessible. Furthermore, consumer and producer attitudes and interests may conflict over some issues surrounding sustainability and health (Selfa et al., 2008).


One line of research that has emphasized an environmental or structural approach to food systems draws on the notion of food deserts, a term that has gained widespread use and conceptual salience in the U.S. (see Beaulac and Cummins 2009). Food deserts are: “populated urban areas where residents do not have access to an affordable and healthy diet” (Cummins and Macintyre 2002:436); “areas characterized by poor access to healthy and affordable food (Beaulac and Cummins 2009:A105); and “areas with little or no provision of fresh produce and other health food” (Bader et al. 2010). Individuals residing in food deserts generally are economically disadvantaged, have poor nutrition as they are generally consuming cheaper and more filling foods, and are geographically disadvantaged in terms of the number of full service food stores in their general area of residence (Guy and David 2004). A recent review of food desert research supports the general conclusion that “Americans living in low-income and minority areas tend to have poor access to healthy food” (Beaulac and Cummins 2009:A109).


Focusing on the effect of socioeconomic differences and health outcomes, Pampel et al. (2010: 360) argue that in the U.S. and Canada there is an association between “obesity and food quality, prices, and availability in a community.” Augmenting these findings that report stratified patterns of diet-related poor health outcomes, (e.g. obesity, diabetes, hypertension) is a copious body of health and nutrition research (see for example Nestle et al. 1998; Cummins and Macintyre 2006; Moore and Diez-Roux 2006; Flora and Gillespie 2009; Schafft et al. 2009). Morland and Filomena (2007) and Franco et al. (2008) report in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine and Public Health Nutrition that access to full service retail food outlets offering fresh and frozen produce is better in predominantly white and higher income neighborhoods than in black, mixed race, and lower income neighborhoods. Within the relatively few supermarkets and grocery stores found in black, mixed race, and lower income neighborhoods, the amount and variety of healthy foods was found to be significantly lower than in supermarkets and grocery stores in predominately white and higher income neighborhoods located in large cities (Morland and Filomena 2007; Franco et al. 2008). The above work has led to a need for more research and applied efforts towards resolving these problems of availability and access.


Advantage of a Food Systems Approach


A systems approach to food in local communities and families, one that takes into account the social, economic and cultural aspects of food, is required to unravel the mysteries of food-related problems in multiple dimensions. New and community-engaged approaches to the conceptualization, study, and outreach and their integration are needed to address constraints to health and well-being including obesity, food insecurity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. 


The purpose of this project is to investigate these complex relationships, involving key stakeholders in analyzing and addressing problems and solutions. Our goal is to increase understanding of food and nutrition practices and systems, and to facilitate food-related institutional, community, family, and individual behavioral changes that can improve health and well-being and enhance learning and changes across regions and sectors of the food system. 


This project will examine family, community, and institutional dynamics to better understand how the food system influences individual and population health and well-being. We will engage with the underserved as well as community stakeholders and decision makers through Collaborative Engaged Research Methodology (Gillespie, 2010), and explore other means for creating sustainable community access to food. While university-based research, education, and outreach programs have not always served or been accountable to people of color and underserved populations (Slocum, 2006), in this project we will develop an inclusive, community-oriented, participatory approach. This will require a focused effort to work with groups that have historically had less ability to access and benefit from university programs than have traditional agricultural clients. 


A food systems approach to food security requires that we understand food insecurity as potentially arising from problems at any node of the food system, including food availability, stability of supplies across seasons, sufficient resources to access supplies, and consumption and utilization factors.  For example, food systems involve wholesale and retail sources of food within reach of communities under study. Using secondary data such as the USDA Food Atlas, much can be learned about the number and type of sources of food. The next step is to go on line to determine more specifically the location of these food outlets relative to low income areas in a community. Samples of these outlets can be drawn, determining the healthiness of the products being sold and their prices. Finally, a sample of low income neighborhood dwellers can be drawn in order to determine the opportunities and barriers to affordable, healthy food can be ascertained.  One area of constraint that food preparers in households experience is a lack of skills in planning meals, shopping with those meals in mind, and cooking the foods needed to create particular meals. 


Technical Feasibility


The 1196 research team is skilled and experienced in a variety of research methods ranging from complex dietary recalls and nutritional security analysis to photo-voice and GIS work. Their work has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, Extension publications, and books from respected university presses and other publishers. As members of research-intensive universities, this group has access to the most recent data, software, and computing resources necessary to carry out the research. The team has extensive experience in working at multiple levels and with a range of stakeholders to integrate research with education and outreach. 


The Advantage of a Multistate Approach: NC-1196 Group Expertise and Strengths


Our interdisciplinary research team is well positioned for this multi-state effort of conceptual and empirical engagement with the complex issues of food systems, health, and well-being. The team has extensive experience in working at multiple levels and with a range of stakeholders to integrate research with education and outreach. Since our project group is composed of members from states in many areas of the country, we will be able to learn from and engage with people with different historical experiences and contemporary conditions. This diversity and range will greatly increase the scope of action, and the knowledge base for future work. Moreover, multiple disciplines (including economics, nutrition, sociology, anthropology, and geography) are represented on the project team, ensuring that problems and solutions will be addressed from a range of perspectives and methodologies.


The NC-1196 has evolved over the past ten years to a diverse mix of regional, disciplinary, and methodological approaches.  Our team brings the following benefits to this project:


1.      Interdisciplinary perspectives – The NC-1196 group includes individuals with diverse disciplinary backgrounds, including nutrition education, rural sociology, youth development, nutrition anthropology, food science, nutrition science and dietetics.  This mix provides cross-disciplinary training in the biological, physical, and social sciences.  It also leads to the establishment of interdisciplinary teams of researchers on grant applications and projects sponsored by the multistate group.  In the context of the project proposal, an interdisciplinary group like ours has the ability to approach the range of material and non-material dimensions of food systems.


2.      Mixed methods – The NC-1196 group includes individuals using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies.  As mixed methods are currently favored in many research areas (particularly in the social sciences), having NC-1196 group members with broad expertise provides both a learning context for all members as well as the ability to combine methodologies on single projects and activities.  For example, our team members’ workshop on evaluation conducted by staff from the National Science Foundation (to be held in October 2015) will emphasize the latest mixed methodologies as they apply to project and program evaluation.  Members of the 1196 group are variously skilled at methods ranging from complex dietary recalls and nutritional security analysis to photo-voice and GIS work.


3.      Integrated projects – The NC-1196 group includes land-grant university faculty with a variety of types of positions, from full-time research and teaching faculty to full-time Extension faculty.  We also have faculty with broad experience in publishing, organizing public events, outreach education, and grant-writing.  These combinations allow us to discuss and undertake projects and group activities that fully integrate research and outreach education, and often involve campus academic programs as well.  We are also able to synthesize a diversity of end products into our activities; over the five-year course of our current project, we have hosted symposia, engaged in dialogue with program officers from NIH and USDA, held workshops on evaluation, conducted field tours, and cooperated on several grant applications.


4.      Regional and population diversity – The NC-1196 group truly represents geographic diversity (from Hawaii to Maryland and from Texas to Minnesota) and the range of stakeholder groups that allow us to look at applied research and interventions across population and demographic subgroups. Local food systems vary significantly as do food-related skills; some of these differences many vary significantly by region and state. The advantage of this regional project is that its members represent nearly a dozen states in the mid-West, South, and East Coast.  Individual studies across these states are both technically feasible and relatively low in cost.


We have members who deal with, among other groups, Native American populations, the homeless, veterans, children, pregnant women, seniors, food pantry participants.  As we seek to generalize from members’ research and experiences, it is helpful to have these diverse audiences in mind to remind us of the various social and cultural variables influencing individual and group behavior.  In this way, our diversity acts as a sort of “checks-and-balances” as we seek to generalize our findings from the local to the regional to the national.


Impacts


Just as the multistate group’s approach is holistic and systems-based, so to do we aim our impacts at diverse nodes of food systems.   Much of our research is consumer-oriented, focusing on issues of decision-making regarding consumption, food purchases and nutrition.  Projects in the schools target children’s meals and snacks, while SNAP-education and WIC-education projects focus on stretching limited food access resources and using available resources to address specific nutrition-related health vulnerabilities.  Our studies have found, for example, that low income shoppers can benefit from training in order to make meal planning and shopping planning more effective within the food system in which they are a part. Sharing the results of the study of food preparers and suggestions about how consumer needs might be better served can be shared with retailers as well as other providers of food. 


In any of these cases, however, we recognize that consumer choices are often constrained and influenced by the contexts and structures (and systems) in which they live.  For example, school meals are impacted by, among other things, USDA regulations, local school boards, access to alternative food sources, and teachers.  Thus our work includes having impacts on the agents within any food system whose decision-making influences the options available to any group of consumers, be they children in schools or adult shoppers.  


We also aim to impact food production and distribution systems.  Some of us work with farmers’ markets, community gardens, and other sources of production, and especially the kinds of local production systems that impact community food security.  Our researchers work to improve the quantity and quality of farm-to-school programs as well as self-provisioning activities within limited-resource populations.  In a related vein, we are also interest in the acquisition and distribution of food through various types of retail markets as well as the emergency food system.  The former lends itself to analysis of the “food environment” in terms of availability, cost, and access.  The latter is especially focused on the (so-called) temporary emergency food assistance programs, particularly the private system comprised largely of food banks, food pantries, and food sites (e.g., soup kitchens, emergency shelters).  Through conducting research in these contexts, we assist organizations in understanding their clientele, help in improving the quality of the food distributed through these systems, and work on outreach education in the contexts in which consumers interact with providers.


Finally, members of this project aim to impact policy-makers and the various public and private policies that influence the structure and content of our food systems.  Through the preparation of public products (e.g., policy briefs, hunger maps and atlases, publications for the popular press) we engage in a type of translational activity to make our research and results available to wider segments of the public.  Given the range of public and private institutions involved with our food system and concerned about the health consequences of diets, working at both structural and individuals levels promises to have the most widespread impacts.

Related, Current and Previous Work

Our previous work is associated with NC-1001, NC-1033, and NC-1196, and here we will focus primarily on our accomplishments associated with the latter multi-state project (NC-1196). It is important to mention here that our future work has continuity with our past efforts in the sense that we continue our interest in families, communities, food systems, and health. While our work has taken an implicit food systems approach to these issues, recent work has focused on improving our understanding of food and nutrition practices and systems, and to facilitate food-related institutional, community, family, and individual behavioral changes that can improve health and well-being and enhance learning and changes across regions and sectors of the food system. In particular, researchers have focused on the unique challenges faced by vulnerable and marginalized groups, including children, women, racial/ethnic minorities, low-income people, the homeless, veterans, and seniors. Institutions are particularly important settings in which to study perceptions and understanding of food and nutrition, as well as practices and institutional arrangements.


In Maryland, we have been engaged with the school system since 2010 to both research and improve the dietary behaviors of preschoolers. Programs have introduced vegetables into preschooler diets, introduced school gardening, and engaged the children in both growing vegetables and incorporating them into school meals. An external evaluation of this project found that over a two year period, the vegetable intake of the children doubled, and that there has been some impact on teachers’ consumption practices as well as nutrition practices in the student households. This work has been expanded to other counties, and there are plans to expand the curriculum to Louisiana and Tennessee. This work has also been included in an AFRI project.


In Texas, work has continued with the Texas! Go! Eat! Grow! Project funded by USDA-AFRI. Like the work in Maryland, this project is focused on behaviors related to childhood nutrition and health. The goal of the Texas project was to increase vegetable intake and physical activity and decrease BMI. During the first year of the intervention, statistically significant improvements were made in vegetable intake, physical activity and body weight. Data collected in the second year of this project is currently being cleaned for further analysis. This project used surveys that collected data on the liking of a wide range of vegetables, the frequency of eating various vegetables, and the types and frequency of various forms of physical activities. Standard methods of measuring these perceptions and behaviors (e.g., food frequencies) were employed. In order to measure BMI, height was measured using a Stadiometer and weight as well as percent body fat was obtained through the use of a Tanita scale. The project also collected data from the primary food preparer in the homes of the students who participated in the project. Here we measured thing such as the degree to which this parent modeled eating vegetables, drinking water, and engaging in physical activity. In addition, the main food preparer was asked to report on her/his confidence in being able to engage in basic cooking tasks such as using measuring cups and following recipes as well as confidence in cooking vegetables using methods such as boiling and baking. McIntosh has concentrated on an attempt to link confidence in cooking with children’s participation in family meals, eating vegetables, and consuming less sugar-sweetened beverages. Work related to this project has been published in the journal Childhood Obesity (Evans et al., 2015). A second project investigated the various motivations that people had using the Theory of Planned Behavior. This study found that while respondents believe in the healthiness of local foods, it also found that mistrust of the food system was influential in consuming a greater amount of locally produced foods. Two papers from this project were published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (Thomas and McIntosh, 2013; 2015). Both projects have also generated a number of conference presentations (McIntosh and Rico, 2014a,b; Rico and McIntosh, 2014; McIntosh et al. 2015a,b).


In Minnesota, we have investigated the role the food environment plays in preventing or exacerbating childhood obesity. Children’s dietary habits are influenced by various aspects of their food environment (home, school, afterschool programs) (Dammann and Smith, 2010; Richards and Smith, 2007), family dynamics (Birch and Marlin, 1982), and cultural factors (Franzen and Smith, 2009). Low-income, ethnically diverse children are at a higher risk for obesity compared to moderate- to high-income Caucasian children (Smith and Franzen-Castle, 2012; Mulasi-Pokhriyal and Smith, 2010). To improve the dietary habits of children living in low-income, urban households and reduce childhood obesity rates, we believed that learning about the urban food environment from a child’s point-of-view was needed, and could provide a more comprehensive understanding of the factors impacting their consumption patterns that might otherwise not be apparent. Thus, we employed a qualitative methodology known as Photovoice to give a voice to our children through a camera lens, and children were interviewed as well. Photovoice has been used to give a voice to vulnerable and marginalized populations by representing their experiences through photographs and interviews and to inspire policy change. We believed that this approach would be appealing to children because it is a creative and fun way for their voice to be heard. Children tend to use digital media on a regular basis; thus incorporating photography into data collection methods may be more effective to engage and empower children. We piloted the methodology with 9-13 years old children who lived in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligible households in the Twin Cities. Recruitment took place at an afterschool program that serves American Indian youth and several locations of the Boys and Girls Clubs. Twenty-nine children (20 male, 9 female) of the 36 enrolled completed this project. Children were in 3rd through 8th grade, and approximately half were overweight or obese. This research demonstrates that Photovoice can engage a multi-ethnic group of low-income children in a conversation about the factors that influence their dietary choices. Through the use of photography, children were able to capture a variety of foods, healthy and unhealthy, that were important in their diet, and to shed light on kitchen facilities, mealtime preparation, and social interactions around food. The main findings from this research were: a) children were most influenced by their parents and peers, and their parents determined what foods were available in the household and provided cooking education, while peers and siblings were most involved at mealtimes; b) environmental factors that impacted children’s diets at home included the availability of cooking equipment and food storage as well as the dining environment; c) school, the school bus, afterschool programs, fast food restaurants and buffets were integral parts of their food environment; and d) concerns with food security were widespread and food availability at home seemed to be mitigated by SNAP and food shelves. There is a podcast on this project, and it has been published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (Heidelberger and Smith, 2015).


In Ohio, our recent work also continues the focus on vulnerable populations, including the homeless. Homelessness has been described as a “stress-filled, dehumanizing, and dangerous circumstance” (Fitzpatrick et al., 1999), and it is associated with adverse physical and mental health outcomes. Homeless youth, described as unaccompanied adolescents and youth up to 24 years of age (Robertson and Toro, 1999), who “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” (McKinney-Vento Act, 2002) are considered one of the most vulnerable populations in society, although they are often forgotten in discussions of vulnerable populations (Berner et al., 2008). Homeless youth are usually food insecure and have poor dietary habits (Smith and Richards, 2008). This, in line with their poor intake of several micronutrients (Li et al., 2009; Tarasuk et al., 2009) possibly contributes to their underlying physical and mental health challenges. Our understanding, however, of the determinants of food choices and dietary habits and how these affect the health and wellbeing of this unique population remains limited, precluding our ability to identify targeted intervention approaches to improve their health. Our current efforts are to develop a comprehensive understanding of the nutritional needs of this population, the status of their nutritional health and its effect on physical and mental health, and the factors that impact food choice as related to food availability and accessibility within the context of their environment. We also hope to shed light on the unique social, economic, and personal individual factors that influence food choices and dietary behaviors. Based on our findings from the aforementioned objectives we will develop appropriate and targeted interventions aimed at improving nutritional health (through food access and improved dietary habits) and subsequent physical and mental health outcomes.


In Florida, we are engaged in research on consumer perception of farmers’ markets and food purchase decision-making at farmers markets. In spring 2015, Florida residents (n=498) responded to an online invitation from the University of Florida Survey Research Center to determine Floridian consumer perception of farmers’ markets and to help determine decision-making regarding purchases, including knowledge on safety of food sold at farmers’ markets. Survey questions were developed by a team of researchers specializing in consumer affairs and food safety, and were distributed by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) Survey Research Center at the University of Florida. Surveys were delivered via email to individuals who had previously signed up for email information from the BEBR. Questions in addition to those focusing on farmers’ market purchasing behaviors included demographic and health-related questions. Data were analyzed using SPSS to determine preliminary trends in purchase patterns and responses from residents who reported having shopped at a farmers’ market in the previous calendar year, and data were analyzed separately for individuals who reported that they had not shopped at a market in the past calendar year. Funding for this study was provided by the BEBR, and the survey instrument was subject to review and approval by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Florida. Conference submissions were submitted to the 2016 Family Economic Resource Management Association and 2016 American Council on Consumer Interests. During this 5-year project, we have also expanded the accomplishments of the collaborative leadership team for the Family and Community Food Decision-Making (FDM) Program [familyfood.human.cornell.edu]. The FDM program has led to productive food system and health partnerships in communities based on the partnership strategies and principles (Gillespie, Gantner, et al., 2003); conceptualizing the relationships among sustainable food systems, family food decision-making processes, and health and well-being (Gillespie and Smith, 2008); and developing the Collaborative Engaged Research (CER) methodology and communication strategies (Gillespie and Sung, 2013). This year we have drawn from the outcomes and findings of these projects for leading strategic planning for the Iowa Food Access and Health Collaborative Leadership Team, the Agriculture Food and Human Values Society, and for sustaining the Head Start Jump Start Project -- a collaboration of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Expanded Food and Nutrition Program with Head Start teachers and administrators. We have also drawn upon this work as part of the planning team for Healthy Cass County (IA), the public health assessment and five year plan in Cass County, and the Southwest Iowa Food and Farming Initiative. CER depends on and enhances communication with decision-makers among practitioners, academic researchers, and community food systems stakeholders. Complex and multifaceted, CER facilitates dynamic communication patterns and develops interactions among the members, with external stakeholders, and within families and communities for collective decision-making (Gillespie and Sung, 2013). These stakeholders often bring multiple perspectives based on a range of experience and expertise, which creates challenges for productive communication. However, this complex of varying predispositions provides a fertile context for weaving multiple perspectives into a fabric of inclusion and innovation to advance health and well-being for individuals, families, and communities. The CER methodology guides the generation of change initiatives and the formation of CER learning teams as change initiatives are generated. The methodology is based on findings from CER projects led by FDM teams, communication with informants, and innovative communication and education approaches. CER means developing communication competence for co-learning, collective decision-making, and co-creating a sustainable world in which people are nourished and nurtured.


In Missouri, we are in the third year of the Grow Well Missouri Program funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health. The two primary goals are to help food pantry customers increase their self-provisioning of vegetables and fruits through gardening and to help the food pantries themselves acquire more fruits and vegetables through partnerships with other community organizations. Evaluations of the first two years show a number of increases in specific measures (e.g., self-provided produce, storage of produce, and so on) although 24-hour recalls do not show a significant change in overall diets. We are turning increasing attention to strategies for sustaining programs after our participation ends. In other projects: we released the third Missouri Hunger Atlas in 2013 (foodsecurity.missouri.edu/projects/missouri-hunger-atlas/) and are presently compiling information for the 2016 atlas. This resource is used by many individuals and organizations, as well as policy-makers, throughout the state. We are also a co-sponsor of a national summit on Universities Fighting World Hunger (ufwh2016.org) which will be held in Columbia, Missouri in February, 2016. Co-sponsors include the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization (United Nations). Finally, we are developing curriculum materials for an on-line Master’s Program for Moscow State University. This project is funded by the World Bank.


We also continue our interest in structural barriers to food, including issues of access and availability, especially where we can connect these barriers to food decision making and health outcomes related to the local food system. For example, significant regions of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) are “food deserts” as defined by the USDA. People living in food deserts often have inadequate access to nutrient dense foods and have diets high in energy dense foods. In juxtaposition to the food deserts is the obesity rate in Michigan, and specifically in the U.P. Michigan had the 8th highest rate of obesity in the United States in 2008. Nearly two-thirds of Michigan adults are overweight (35.2%) or obese (30.1%). Nearly one-third of Michigan youth, grades 9 through 12, were either overweight (16.5%) or obese (12.4%). Marquette, located in the U.P., had the highest rate with over three-quarters (76.6%) of adults either overweight or obese. It is also crucial for remote rural economies like those in the U.P. to become more resilient regarding their food security. Increasing the number and diversity of U.P. farmers while adopting season-extending technologies is an important strategy for assuring the long-term resilience and sustainability of the U.P.’s food supply. The convergence of the rapidly growing community food movement in northern Michigan, the urgent need for workforce development and education, the depressed economy of the region, the myriad of groups seeking community food based educational programming, and the opportunities available due to the rich natural resource base of the region provides an ideal context for research on the educational needs associated with community food systems. The integration of a Community Food Systems Learning Center into the U.P. Research and Extension Center (UPREC) provides a focal point for research, education, and extension efforts to improve the sustainability and resiliency of agriculture and food systems in northern Michigan. Ongoing work is focused on the establishment of a Community Food Systems Learning Center for stakeholder education, technical assistance and outreach as well as associated research objectives. The first step toward the educational needs of regional food systems was the establishment of a beginning farmer incubator. Funds ($500,000) were secured through a USDA-AFRI grant for a 5 year project that started late spring of 2014. An additional $100,000 was secured through MDARD for variety trials and to assist with development of the incubator. Three types of learners were identified in this project; novice farmers, apprentice farmers, and skill seekers. Needed infrastructure was developed, including the addition of a passive solar greenhouse (hoophouse), a wash/pack shed, a root cellar and a grow chamber. The hoophouse was completed and 2 acres were cultivated in time to market crops in 2014. Early indication is that demand for locally grown nutrient dense foods far exceeds supply. The first cohort of apprentice farmers (2015) will use these 2 acres for their production while the program will add acreage to help fund the center. The overarching goal for this project is to increase the number of producers growing and providing nutrient dense foods to Michigan’s U.P. economy by integrating a Community Food Systems Learning Center into the UPREC, thereby providing a focal point for research, education and extension efforts to improve the sustainability and resiliency of agriculture and food systems in Michigan’s U.P. A key research objective is to determine the efficacy of the Center in increasing the awareness, knowledge and skills of beginning farmers, established farmers, avocational growers, youth and community members regarding ecologically based nutrient dense food production.


Finally, in Kansas, two projects have examined food availability in both urban and rural settings. The first examined the relationships between neighborhood racial and income composition and healthy food availability in Topeka, KS. We used census tract data and five-year estimates from the American Community Survey to produce maps illustrating the patterns of race and income composition. Included in these maps are data points illustrating the distribution of stores offering healthy foods. We found that, as in the large metro areas analyzed thus far, the distribution of healthy food stores in Topeka is similarly patterned in this small metro context. Neighborhoods that have a higher concentration of black (and poorer) households tend to have the lowest levels of healthy food availability (Miller et al. 2015). Future work will involve more detailed study of barriers to access. A second project examined healthy food availability in three rural communities in Kansas. The objectives were to understand the trends regarding rural grocery stores, and to better understand the issues of access to healthy foods faced by people living in these areas. We acquired a database of all rural grocery stores in the state, and using GIS mapping and spatial analysis software were able to map all rural grocery stores and compare with USDA food desert maps, and determine distances to grocery stores (Rissler, 2015). Both projects have led to theses (Miller 2012; Rissler 2014), several conferences presentations (e.g., Miller et al. 2012; Rissler 2015), and publication (Miller et al. 2015).


There are previous and current multistate projects whose titles make it appar they are already at work doing the research and invention that we propose to engage in. These include for example, NC-1011 Rural Low Income Families: Tracking Well-Being and Functioning; NE-1012 Sustaining Local Food Systems; NE-1039 Changing Health Trajectory for Older Aults and others. Howerver, after reading the description of the objectives of these and other projects, we are confident that we are proposing unique and important objectives and research methods. 

Objectives

  1. Analyze best practices that have proven effective at increasing individual, household, and community food and nutrition security and identify individual and systemic strategies for the development and dissemination of initiatives designed to improve food and nutrition security.
  2. Utilize food systems approaches to assess and address nutrition, health, and wellness challenges of vulnerable population groups (e.g., children, elderly, low income, immigrant, minority) with particular focus on food availability, appropriate policy systems and environmental changes that would increase positive food decision making and improve health outcomes.
  3. Assess key strengths and weaknesses of the current public and private emergency food assistance systems in US relevant to improving food security and addressing the health and nutritional needs of program participants.

Methods

Objective 1 

Research methods for evaluating interventions to identify best practices typically involves pre and post-testing of participants on the dependent variables. In cases where specific objectives include changes in physical characteristics, researchers utilize director physical measurements (e.g., weight, height, body fat). Other variables typically measured include changes in diet, attitudes towards various foods, food preferences, frequency of consumption, and so on. Research methods used in these cases include both general surveys as well as validated dietary documentation. The latter will include validated and reliable techniques. For example, 24-hour recalls are used by a cross-section of our researchers, typically taking two recalls with each individual whenever possible using a four stage, multiple-pass technique on nonconsecutive days and average the results. 

Researchers also will employ specific data collection methodologies appropriate to their research contexts, age groups, and research questions. One of the diversities within our group is the age of target populations, ranging from pre-scholars in the case of Zoumenou’s work in Maryland to work with seniors in Florida in Gillen’s investigations. As a result, examining something so basic as food preferences and consumption patterns varies widely. In the former case, pictorial surveys and actual measures of food before and after consumption are utilized while in the latter case 24-hour recalls and advanced decision-making matrices can be employed.  Where possible, group members will use multiple series of data collection to document impacts. For example, the Texas study (McIntosh) involves four data points, including the baseline and one additional survey each semester for three semesters. 

Group members often utilize surveys to document other stakeholder groups whose behaviors impact targeted populations. For example, NC-1196 researchers (e.g., McIntosh, Zoumenou) who work in schools typically include surveys of parents and qualitative work with teachers and school administrators. Survey research is a methodology employed by our group’s researchers as well in activities targeting Objectives 2 and 3. 

Another method being tested for intervention impacts is Collaborative Engaged Research (CER), a family and community development perspective that builds on assets and aspirations and identifies opportunities, in contrast to approaches that address problems to be solved. CER integrates principles and practices of Appreciative Inquiry (AI; Watkins, Mohr, & Kelly, 2011) and Open Space Technology (OST; 01, 1997 to create a context for transformative learning (Taylor, 2000), and establishing communication competence through relational as well as instrumental communication strategies. CER methodology is a continuous loop. The components of the process are identifying opportunities and collaborators, organizing CER learning teams, creating communicative exchange strategies, inquiring and analyzing, and reflecting and innovating. As the process continues cycling, findings from a particular initiative are not the end but rather the beginning of another cycle of inquiry and innovation. Reflection, on an individual and collective basis, about changing meanings and mindsets and thinking creatively about what could be moves the process toward realizing individual and collective aspirations. 

Working in the context of groups, from community leaders to farmers and consumers, to change behaviors requires long-term projects and effective formative evaluations over the course of a change-based program.  Our focus on best practices and interventions extends to research on farmer adoption of ecologically-base nutrient dense food production, the focus of group member Raven in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Raven’s methods for working with cohorts of novice and apprentice farmers conducts formative evaluations though individual and group interviews. On-line surveys are also used to collect formative evaluations for project improvement and adaptation. Again, formative evaluations (as well as summative evaluations) are used by most of the group’s researchers, particularly those involved with behavioral changes and interventions.  

Improved family food decision-making (FFDM) is another primary focus of several NC-1196 researchers. Measures used in this research are based primarily on research questions related to expanding family purchases to include “alternative” foods. To pursue this research, investigators (e.g., Gillen) focus on variables within the FFDM cycle, particularly on the identification and use of family assets and why people buy the food they do. Research methods parallel those used in other contexts of family financial decision-making. Among other independent variables that will form part of the analysis are payment types, generational differences, and personality traits as these affect payment choices. Family decision-making can also vary by structural differences within households; in keeping with our group’s interests in vulnerable populations, this work will include research with senior citizens and families with foster children.  

Finally, we should emphasize that research on Objective 1 reveals benefits of this multistate approach for assessing best practices. A prime example is the work begun in the existing research of Virginie Zoumenou in Maryland. Her work carried on over the last few years benefited from the involvement of another group member, Ardy Gillespie, as an external evaluator, as well as input from Alex McIntosh, NC-1196 member who conducts research with elementary school students in Texas. Based on the results of completed studies in Maryland, Zoumenou has led the submission of a multi-state project that will include sites in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. The new project will widen the participation of NC-1196 members to include Stephany Parker, our group member from Oklahoma State University. The latter participant not only adds another state into the research but also extends the work across Native American contexts. In essence, this work is coming full circle as Zoumenou’s initial work borrowed from curriculums using narrative dimensions in work with Native American communities. The many synergies of this example are all enhanced by the multistate foundation of this group. 

Objective 2 

Work on health vulnerabilities of marginalized population groups is a central theme in the group’s work. Within this theme, however, group members focus on different, albeit overlapping, sets of dependent variables. Most of us focus on physical vulnerabilities, from healthy weight to nutrient imbalances, but there is also interest in mental health by several researchers. The latter is always investigated via the use of validated survey tools such as the Beck depression and anxiety scales, Perceived Stress Scale, PHQ-9, and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression survey, which is a screening test for depression and depressive disorders. Physical health is operationalized through a range of measures, including BMI, weight and height, body composition (BIA), Tanida scales, and waist circumference. Group researchers with more biomedical skills (e.g., Hatsu) are able to examine things like cardiovascular health through lipid panels, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and other techniques, while other researchers use self-reported diagnoses received from medical professionals. Nutrient status in most projects is measured using appropriate nutrient biomarkers. 

Measures of food security form an important bridge between the projects of NC-1196 members and offers the promise of future collaborations and cross-project collaborations. For example, Hatsu, Smith, and Rikoon all use the same ERS tool to measure household food security among, respectively, homeless (Ohio), immigrant (Minnesota) and food pantry client households (Missouri). These researchers are presently sharing surveys and data with one another and there are several possibilities for cross-group comparative analyses. 

Group members employ methodologies derived from multiple social science and biological science disciplines. For example, Middendorf’s continuing work on food access in both rural and urban districts in Kansas relies of Geographic Information Systems tools for organizing, layering, and analyzing data. Along with other group members, he also utilizes concepts of social and cultural capital to examine how rural communities organize themselves collaboratively to accomplish tasks that require great fiscal and human resources than those present in any one group. Smith’s work in Minnesota derives from her training as a nutritional anthropologist and thus incorporates tools of ethnographic and qualitative research relevant to data collection on culture and cultural analysis. 

Work with marginalized communities will often involve the use of specialized research tools that link researchers and targeted communities more closely and that remove some of the researcher bias from the collection and analysis of data. Two methods used by a cross-section of researchers in the NC-1196 group include photovoice and Participatory Action research (PAR). Photovoice is a technique of data collection in which the targets of study are given still or video cameras and asked to document salient aspects of their food system or some other topic identified by researchers. Importantly, while community members are given a general topic to document, it is up to the members themselves to choose what is documented, how much time they spend in particular contexts, the focus of the documentation, and so on. Researchers then typically partner with “local” researchers to hear their explanations of their documentation choices, the meanings they ascribe to various documentation products, and to generally provide a more “emic” or audience-defined analysis. This methodology has been especially used by Smith in Minnesota to capture children’s perception of their physical habits and environment.

A similar concept underlies the use of PAR methodologies, for example in the design of interventions into the food system. The overall approach is to enlist the very people in need of assistance in designing and testing the effectiveness of potential interventions using PAR methods to engage local stakeholders. This approach has been successfully used by nutrition researchers in Canada in the study of decline in traditional foodways among indigenous peoples (Chan and Kuhnlein, 2003; Gittelsohn et al., 2010); and by researchers working with the Los Angeles Unified School District, to study obesity-related food policies with students and school officials (Patel et al., 2009). Some project members will work with ethnic minority communities to engage them in their local food systems, while assisting local professionals in engaging low-income audiences, identifying local markets, and sustaining support programs for low-income households. Others project members will continue their work in drawing youth into assessments of the local food environment and changes that might be made to make this environment healthier. Still others are engaging with community members to increase the use of local foods into institutional settings such as schools. Future work by these project members will involve compiling and describing the successes and failures in participatory research in the food system.  

Objective 3 

Research to assess key strengths and weaknesses of the current public and private emergency food assistance systems in US relevant to improving food security and addressing the health and nutritional needs of program participants will primarily focus on non-public systems (although participation in public programs are part of the research variables in many of the NC-1196 projects). A particular focus will be food banks and food pantries (known regionally as food shelves and by other names) as these appear to be increasingly important as food sources for food insecure populations. The group began discussing a cross-state project in 2014, utilizing survey research instruments developed by Rikoon (2014) in Missouri. Pilot data collection has already taken place in several states (e.g., Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri). The first comprehensive step in this project will be a statewide effort to collect data from all food pantry operators in Missouri in 2015-2016. Once completed, we plan to write research proposals for carrying the data collection into other states. We are also considering the use of parallel surveys in other contexts (e.g., drop-in centers for the homeless, so-called soup kitchens, etc.) of emergency food provision. Successful research on these topics will contribute as well to addressing Objectives 2 and 3. Vulnerable populations are the primary clients of these facilities and building organizational capacity, particularly as it relates to the health needs of client populations, are a critical intended outcome of this work.

In summary, the methods used by the multistate collaborative reflect the diversity of participants as well as our group’s holistic approach to understanding the linkages between food systems, health, and well-being. Our members use appropriate and validated methods for researching the food system, from production to consumption. Similarly they use current and cutting-edge research methodologies for testing intervention activities and monitoring health conditions.

Measurement of Progress and Results

Outputs

  • Outputs will include summarizing research results from studies of successful interventions aimed at decreasing both individual and household food insecurity among minority, low-come, homeless, and migrant individuals and families. Project members have already completed successful interventions in improving the vegetable intake of children’s from low income households through school interventions (Zoumenou in Maryland and McIntosh in Texas). Data from these and related projects are currently being analyzed. Data from the Texas project has produced one publication and two submitted papers to journals. Another output will involve expanding the Maryland intervention to Oklahoma (Parker), producing data and their analysis.
  • Smith (Minnesota) will continue to study children to learn the degree to which they understand their food system and the importance of physical activity (Franzen-Castle and Smith, 2014). These efforts as well as new interventions in Michigan will take a more food systems orientation in order to bring in local food producers and community volunteers who provide services to schools, community gardens, and food pantries. Findings from these efforts will be shared with community leaders and other community stakeholders.
  • Studies of unique populations of the food insecure (e.g., homeless adolescents) will expand what is known about the relationship between food insecurity and physical and mental health and lead to increased availability and access to healthy food, improved dietary habits among groups such as homeless adolescents, and changed policies regarding the provision of food and nutrition services established to reduce their food insecurity.
  • Outputs here will be data on how families make food decisions within a given food environment using varies methodologies such as the Family Food Decision Method (FFDM) developed by Gillespie, one of the project members. A second member Gillen (Florida) has developed methods to study food purchasing food patterns in order to assist families make better decisions when purchasing food, which will be used to produce new data and their analysis. The combination of these two approaches will increase families’ abilities to make better use of their time and other resources in producing meals. Middendorf will continue his study of rural food systems, providing a greater understanding of the environments families make budgeting and food procurement decisions. Various project members have already generated both qualitative data (e.g., from focus groups; Photovoice methodologies) and quantitative data from surveys and GIS analyses. Future work by project members will involve efforts to combine results from their qualitative and quantitative studies.
  • Output here will provide a greater understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of current public and private efforts by U.S. food assistance programs to improve food security. A project dealing with these issues is already underway and finding from that will not only inform local food panty administrators and volunteers but also state-level policy makers. With these findings in hand, funding will be sought to replicate this survey in other states such as Ohio and Missesota. Pilot testing in Missouri has already taken place. Research findings will inform policy-making around food security in those states. A number of project members have committed to producing a research proposal to extend the pilot and full study of food pantries in Missouri and other states. The survey instrument designed by Rikoon will be used. Data collected will be analyzed by state as well as a whole. In the case of all of the outputs, papers will be written, presented at meetings and submitted to journals.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • By creating an inventory regarding best practices that can be applied by individuals, communities, and states, states like Nevada who have organized efforts to increase food security (see Office of Food Security, 2013), are looking for mechanisms to get food producers to work with retailers and increase the distribution capacity of existing programs such as Farm to School in order to “increase more readily available nutritionally adequate and safe foods.” Or cities such as Tulsa, Oklahoma and Austin, Texas to build on their successes in spreading community gardening within their boundaries (Tulsa Food Security Council, 2013) and the Office of Sustainability that serves as advisory body for the City of Austin government, who has drafted a number of ordinances for the establishments of Urban and Community Gardens and for Local and Health Food Procurement to increase access to healthy foods in disadvantage. Work by the Michigan project member (Raven) by collaborating with community stakeholders to create strategies for improving health and well-being will serve the purpose of creating a greater understanding of the food system within which the community in embedded and with this knowledge help those stakeholder take needed steps to improve health and well-being in their communities.
  • The extension of the Maryland school intervention into Oklahoma will have reached a number of schools there and increased children’s intake of vegetables. Efforts in Texas will continue the spread of the Texas Grow Eat Go school intervention program, which was introduced three years ago, has attracted 12 other schools which wish to adopt the project’s curriculum, school garden activity, and the Walk Across Texas physical activity. Like the children in the initial intervention, it is expected that children will increase vegetable intake and physical activity and will experience a decline in BMI.
  • Understanding food choices made by food preparers and their meal planning or lack thereof will lead to interventions based Gillespie’s (Gillespie and Gillespie, 2007; Gillespie and Smith, 2008; Gillespie and Sung, 2013) and Gillian’s methods for increasing family food decision-making and changes in the food retail environment. The goal is to produce greater numbers of families who do so.
  • Work in several states will increase the cooperation between local food pantries and other groups with expertise in gardening or who have access vegetables (e.g., community gardens; farmers markets).

Milestones

(2016): Project members will have reviewed best practices in dealing with food insecurity. Data analysis from the Texas and Maryland school interventions will continue. Studies of children’s understanding of food systems and physical activity. In Michigan, efforts will have continued to increase connections between local producers and volunteers, with presentations being made to community leaders and stakeholders.

(2017): The study of homeless adolescents will have been planned and completed. Output 4. The combining of the family food decision-making and decision-making around food purchases will have been finished and data collected. Studies of food pantries will have commenced. Quantitative studies of food availability in rural Kansas will have been completed.

(2018): The expanded efforts in school interventions will be done and data collected with papers written. Similarly the study of homeless adolescents will have begun to produce papers and submissions to journals. Data from the food pantry data collections will be completed.

(2019): Continued data analysis across most of the projects discussed will have taken place; in addition efforts to combine qualitative with quantitative studies will have commenced. Developing a book prospectus will have commenced.

(2020): The leaders of the various projects under the NC1196 project will produce chapters for the book.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

The outreach plan has two primary dimensions. The first includes the dissemination of results and outputs to academic and policy-oriented audiences. The second involves direct engagement and collaboration with community stakeholders to develop strategies to enhance health and well-being. This second component is further divided into two key elements: (a) to increase community understanding of the complex relationships amongst food systems, health, and well-being, and (b) to increase the efficacy of the overall research strategy that utilizes a collaborative approach in design and analysis, and thus helps citizens engage in the process of achieving optimal health and well-being. Our approach to outreach and engagement will comprise a range of efforts that reflect the integrated research and Extension programs of project participants.

All participants in this project have a long history of disseminating their work on food systems, health, and well-being in a wide range of outlets, including published scholarly work and conference presentations. Research results from this project will be disseminated through all possible channels, including refereed journals, book chapters, policy briefs, Extension bulletins, and other research reports. The results will inform the development and/or revision of Extension curriculum. This work will also be presented at regional and national professional meetings. Given that the research team is multidisciplinary, results will reach the professional associations of a variety of disciplines, including economics, geography, nutrition, and sociology. Meetings will likely include the annual meetings of the American Society for Nutrition Society, the Rural Sociological Society, the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society, American Council on Consumer Interests, Family Economic Resource Management Association, and others.

Results will also be communicated to various state and local agencies, and presented in meetings in which citizens and government officials are present. Our approach borrows extensively from Collaborative Engaged Research (CER) methodologies, which integrate research for generating scholarly knowledge into community-led change programs that work to inspire people to improve systems and change behavior in addition to scholarly analysis and assessment on systems that influence health and well-being. The use of a CER also increases the effectiveness of outreach. Thus, one CER tool helps food decision makers map their food system actors and examine their working relationships. Another tool poses questions for food system decision makers to help them reflect on their food and eating routines, decision-making processes, and the alignment of these practices with their family goals and values. In one example, CER has been used to integrate research and program development and evaluation for the NY cooperative extension parent-child workshops, Cooking Together for Family Meals.

Existing and proposed research are strongly linked to stakeholders in each of the participating states, ranging from public health to community leaders working with food security, food banks, and poverty issues to farmers and media. Participatory research will feed directly back into the community. Findings will be shared with communities and they will be encouraged and supported in responding to our findings. Further, it is expected that many of the relationships begun in this work will continue to be developed over time. Specific examples of ongoing engaged work follow.

Two of the research groups have engaged with the underserved, youth groups and other community stakeholders and decision makers using CER methodologies (Gillespie 2010), and will experiment with other means for creating community access to research such as is done through science shops in Dutch universities. These shops provide technical assistance to nonprofit groups that request it and provide access to scientific resources to those who otherwise might not have had access. While university-based research, education, and outreach programs have not always served or been accountable to people of color and underserved populations (Slocum 2006), in this project we will develop an inclusive, community oriented, participatory approach. This will require a focused effort to work with groups that have historically had less ability to access and benefit from university programs than have traditional agricultural clients.

Project members will develop and disseminate information to assist local food pantries, participants in community gardens, and families to obtain more nutrient-dense and less energy-dense foods. One group is implementing teams combining expertise of nutrition, community development, and health communication to work with 8-10 food pantries to improve nutritional quality of food distributed and consumed, focusing on strategies related to food availability (donor education), distribution (pantry education), and consumption (client education).

However, the project will not take a top-down approach in these endeavors but instead will enlist the very people in need of assistance in designing and testing the effectiveness of potential interventions. Participatory research is described by some as Participatory Action Research (PAR), which has been used by some to empower local communities. Nutrition researchers in Canada, for example, have employed this technique in the study of perceived decline in traditional foodways among indigenous peoples (Chan and Kuhnlein, 2003; Gittelsohn et al., 2010); researchers working with the Los Angeles Unified School District developed research questions and conducted interviews with students and school officials (Patel et al., 2009). Among our project members, some will work with ethnic minority communities to assist them in engaging their local food systems, while assisting local professionals in engaging Latino audiences, identifying local markets, and sustaining support programs for Latino farm families. Others project members have attempted to draw youth into assessments of the local food environment and changes that might be made to make this environment healthier. Still others are engaging with community members to increase the use of local foods in institutional settings such as schools. Future work by these project members will involve compiling and describing the successes and failures in participatory research in the food system.

Another group has taken the research results about nutritional needs and diets of food pantry household clients and used it to develop a pilot food systems approach to better meeting household needs. With a team comprised of a nutritionist, health communications specialist, and community development extension specialist, this group will work with pantries on food availability (through donor education and campaigns, establishing alliances with community gardens and master gardener programs, farmers markets, etc.), distribution and access (through strategies to distribute food more according to health vulnerabilities in households, etc.), and consumption (primarily through client education).

This group is also using the research that goes into constructing a hunger atlas to help community groups, local food policy councils, legislative groups, community action groups, and others better plan the allocation of resources and the development of strategies to improve community food security. Some of this will be done through the development of Extension bulletins and policy briefs; others will be helping communities do their own local assessments of food insecurity and program effectiveness.

Another intervention project involves a Junior Master Gardener volunteer working with third graders and their teachers to create a school garden. This also involves a group of community volunteers who assist with the garden and hopefully provide sustainability for the school garden. Members from several states intend to seek new funding to help spread this successful program.



The research team in Michigan seeks to increase the number of producers growing and providing nutrient dense foods to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s economy by integrating a Community Food Systems Learning Center into the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center thereby providing a focal point for research, education and extension efforts to improve the sustainability and resiliency of agriculture and food systems in Michigan’s U.P. Specific research objectives are: 1) to determine the efficacy of the Center in increasing the awareness, knowledge and skills of beginning farmers, established farmers, avocational growers, youth and community members regarding ecologically based nutrient dense food production and 2) to develop a participatory modeling platform that will inform technology improvement and innovation adoption.

Other project members in Florida will use survey research to document consumer’s food purchasing patterns to create an inventory of purchasing patterns including categorizing purchases as healthy or unhealthy; identifying planned versus unplanned food purchases; examining payment type (i.e. cash, credit, debit, SNAP); and demographic characteristics of the purchaser to identify differences such as among age cohorts.

Organization/Governance

This multistate research group will be governed by a group that includes an elected Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Reporting Coordinator, Collaborations Coordinator, and Grants Coordinator. This distributed leadership model is designed to ensure shared commitment and responsibility for the project s success. Officers will be elected for at least two-year terms, with turnover on alternate years in order to provide continuity. Elections will be held at the annual meeting. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a CSREES Representative.

Duties of the Chair include: Coordinating the governance group, including developing plans and holding periodic conference calls. Developing the agenda for annual meetings in consultation with the governance group. Facilitating annual meetings and any periodic teleconferences that include the whole group. Approving meeting minutes and annual reports. Consulting with Administrative Advisor and CSREES Representative. Secure approval for annual meeting from Administrative Advisor.

Duties of the Vice-Chair include: Selecting site for annual meeting in consultation with governance group. Coordinating logistics of annual meeting, including hotel, meeting space, meals, finances, and registration.

Duties of the Secretary include: Taking minutes at group meetings and submitting them for review to the group within two weeks of the meeting. Posting the meeting minutes on the NIMSS website within 60 days after the meeting.

Duties of the Reporting Coordinator include: Write the project s annual report and post on the NIMSS website within 60 days after the meeting. This involves documenting collaborative activities and collecting annual activity reports and publications from each active member. Work with governance group to produce final report and submit within 60 days of project s completion.

Duties of the Collaborations Coordinator include: Investigating opportunities for the group’s collective and collaborative work; coordinating development and implementation of such activities.

Duties of the Grants Coordinator include: Investigating grant opportunities for collaborative work among group members; coordinating development of grant proposals.

Officers will be elected from the core group membership. Core members are those who are engaged in research and education projects described in the project objectives and methods and who participate actively in NC-1033 group endeavors. Core members agree to submit their annual reports and publications to the Reporting Coordinator within 30 days of the annual meeting in order to give the recorder time to consolidate the material for the report.

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