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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 proven strategies 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

Our research focuses on proven strategies 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.

Utilizing both the Social Ecological Model (Bronfenbrenner, 1977) and Equity-Oriented Obesity Prevention Framework (Kumanyika, 2019), our work takes place across multi-sector 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 vulnerable communities.

Through authentic community engagement, we address the needs of the individual and community within the social, economic, and cultural contexts where people live, work, learn, and worship to ensure health for all.

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. The local realities and community context must be at the heart of community-led action and transformation that will achieve the strongest and most sustainable impact..

News & Notes

Nov 2021: The Healthy Schoolhouse 2.0 team presented virtually at the 2nd Annual Healthy LifeStars: Improving Health Outcomes Through Preventing Childhood Obesity Conference  sponsored by the Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy. The presentation, Healthy Schoolhouse 2.0: Empowering Teachers to Shape Healthy Students shared the design, implementation, and year one results for the 5-year USDA/NIFA multicomponent nutrition education program that empowers teachers to support health literacy for elementary school students. 

Aug 2021: The Healthy Schoolhouse 2.0 team published in the journal Nutrients as part of the Special Issue Childhood Obesity: Nutrition and Lifestyle Determinants, Prevention and Management. The article Healthy Schoolhouse 2.0 Health Promotion Intervention to Reduce Childhood Obesity in Washington, DC: A Feasibility Study shares results demonstrating that teacher participation in professional learning positively correlates with nutrition lessons taught. Further, students who received the three recommended lessons had higher post knowledge scores than those who received fewer than three.

July 2021: The Healthy Schoolhouse 2.0 team, including Lauren Kohls, Dr. Melissa Hawkins, Sarah Little, Robin McClave, Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson and Dr. Stacey Snelling, presented at the virtual poster session of the American School Health Association’s (ASHA) annual conference held July 19-21. The poster titled “Empowering Teachers to Support Healthy Students and Healthy Learners: Healthy Schoolhouse 2.0” was selected as the 2021 recipient of the ASHA Student Poster Award. Congratulations Lauren and Sarah!

June 2021: Gaby Seltzer, DC Central Kitchen, and Robin McClave, Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities, presented virtually at the Just Food Conference hosted by the Culinary Institute of America & New York University. The panel focused on Systemic Racism and Place and shared findings from DCCK’s SNAP matching incentive program in corner stores on produce purchases in underserved areas of DC.

Healthy Schools

Read about our Healthy Schools work.

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Healthy Communities

Read about our Healthy Communities work.

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