Eastern Michigan University nutrition team earns grant to help low-income group gain access to healthy local foods

farm fresh fruits and vegetables with "Local products" sign

YPSILANTI – A nutrition team from Eastern Michigan University has received a $4,000 grant to improve access to healthy local foods and develop greater food and agricultural literacy in seeking to reduce health disparities in the low-income Asian American population in Kent County, Michigan.

The Association of State Public Health Nutritionists Farm to Early Care and Education Capacity Building Grant was awarded in January and will run through July, 2021.

The EMU team is from the University’s Center for Health Disparities Innovations and Studies (CHDIS), which aims to improve the lives of various communities by reducing racial and ethnic disparities of diverse and minority populations in Michigan.

Team members will implement a Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) program that seeks to help young children and their families engage in productive, educational activities regarding nutrition and food.

“This initiative will be beneficial to the children in this community, as they will be exposed to local, nutritious foods and edible gardening, and will be provided a chance to learn about food and agriculture,” said Olivia Ford, co-leader of the EMU team along with Alice Jo Rainville, a fellow professor of nutrition and dietetics at Eastern.

ECE settings, which include child care centers, family child care homes, pre-kindergarten classrooms, and Head Start/Early Head Start programs, present an important opportunity for healthy early childhood development and obesity prevention.

The EMU team’s effort will include:

• Purchasing and serving local foods.

• Growing edible gardens.

• Embedding food and agricultural literacy into the content of the ECE programming.

• Increased access to and consumption of fresh local produce.

• Long-term influence on children’s eating habits.

• Participation in experiential learning, and understanding of farming and ecology.

• Local economic development, and advancing equity in ECE and food systems.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

March 03, 2021

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Media Contact:
Geoff Larcom