Food and Nutrition
Section Newsletter
Fall 2011

Message from the Chair

Deirdra Chester, F&N ChairIt’s hard to believe that the Annual Meeting is right around the corner.  We have an exciting program planned. A special highlight to our program this year is in addition to our awards ceremony; we will be highlighting the work presented at the conference through a video presentation. We invited all presenters of accepted abstracts to submit 2.5 minute videos that show their program, advocacy or intervention featured “in action.”  Five videos were chosen to be featured at the awards ceremony. A special “thank you” to our program chair, Ann Middleton, and to Lynn Frederick for their hard work in making this innovative program a reality. Please plan to attend our annual awards banquet on Sunday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 to congratulate our awardees on their accomplishments; to meet our student member Helen Wu, who received the highest score on her abstract; and most importantly to network with friends and colleagues.

I would also like to encourage anyone who is interested in becoming more involved in the Section to attend our business meetings on Saturday from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. and Sunday from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.  Please go to the APHA website for more detailed information on the activities and program offerings of the Food and Nutrition Section at this year’s Annual Meeting.

At the end of the meeting, members will assume new leadership positions for the coming year. Congratulations to: Sonya Jones – Chair-Elect; Laura Elizabeth Dotson – Secretary-Elect; Laura Bellows and Noel Chavez – Section Councilors; and Joan Trendell – Governing Councilor.  Each year in February we have nominations for open leadership positions; we always welcome new leaders. It’s a great way to get involved.

Thanks to the generosity of our members, we are well on our way of meeting our goal of $5,000.  We have raised $1,200 since we started our fundraising campaign. It’s not too late for you to donate. We are continuing work with the Fundraising Committee. If you would like to donate, please go to and click on donate.  Please be sure to click on the Food and Nutrition Section when making your donation.

Sarah Forrestal has done an excellent job as the FNS newsletter editor and will be transitioning responsibility to Rachel Fisher for 2012.  We have made great strides in developing our Section logo and in developing better communication tools to reach each and every member. Thanks to Alyssa Ghirardelli, Patti Risica and the communications team for all of their hard work.

This is my last contribution to the newsletter as chair. I would like to say that it has been a pleasure working with the Food and Nutrition Section. Thank you to all of the members for your continued support, your hard work, and, most of all, your dedication. You make our section great.  I look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C.! 

Deirdra Chester

Chair, Food and Nutrition Section

The Food and Nutrition Section Announces Its 2010-2011 Awardees

Sandra Sherman, EdDCatherine Cowell Award
Sandra Sherman, EdD, is the 2010-2011 recipient of the Catherine Cowell Award, which was established in 1993 to honor Dr. Catherine Cowell’s contributions to the field of public health nutrition. This award recognizes an individual who has exemplified excellence and achievement in administration, planning, mentoring and team building in public health nutrition, including meeting the special needs of urban populations and young children.

Margo G. Wootan, DScMary C. Egan Award
Margo G. Wootan, DSc, is the 2010-2011 recipient of the Mary C. Egan Award, established in 1985 to honor Dr. Mary Egan who had a major role in the development and implementation of the National WIC Program and the development of graduate training programs for health professionals working in maternal and child health. This award recognizes an individual’s professional contributions and outstanding services for development of new approaches in public health nutrition, mentoring, nutrition education, and addressing special nutrition needs.

Wendy Johnson-Askew, PhD, MPH, RDExcellence in Dietary Guidance Award
Wendy Johnson-Askew, PhD, MPH, RD, is the 2010-2011 recipient of the Excellence in Dietary Guidance Award, which was established in 1992 as the result of Sue Krebs-Smith’s vision and efforts while working at the National Cancer Institute. This award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions in the area of dietary guidance formulation, research, education or policy change.

Helen Wu, MPhil, MSStudent Abstract Award
Helen Wu, MPhil, MS, is currently an assistant policy analyst at RAND Corporation, and a doctoral fellow at Pardee RAND Graduate School. Wu is the 2010-2011 recipient of the Student Abstract Award. This award recognizes the student whose submitted abstract received the highest overall score by reviewers. Her winning abstract is entitled, “Evaluating the Restaurant Industry’s Response to California’s New Menu Labeling Law.” In addition to the award, Wu will receive a one-year paid APHA membership.

USDA Announces Changes to School Wellness Policy Requirements

The Child Nutrition and Reauthorization Act of 2004 required all schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program to have local wellness policies in place at the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year. This July, the United States Department of Agriculture announced changes to wellness policy requirements, changes driven by the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

The law required the following provisions to be in effect at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year:
  • That additional stakeholders be included in the development, implementation and review of the wellness policies.
  • Schools are to inform and update parents, students and others in the community about the content and implementation of the local wellness policies.
Local wellness policies are an important tool for parents, local educational agencies and school districts to promote student wellness, prevent and reduce childhood obesity, and provide assurance that school meal nutrition guidelines meet the minimum federal school meal standards.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service will be updating the local wellness policy materials on the FNS website.

Schools Show Improved Healthy Eating Policies and Practices When Families and Community Members are Involved in the Development of School Wellness Policies

Recent changes, driven by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, require schools to involve family and community members in the development, implementation and review of school wellness policies. Requiring these additional stakeholders to be at the table during policy formation has been shown to positively impact healthy eating practices in schools. Sara Coulter, FNS newsletter guest editor, corresponded with Dr. Marilyn S. Nanney to find out how far reaching these changes may be. Dr. Nanney conducts school food policy and environment research at the University of Minnesota.

SC: Previous to the change, how many U.S. schools involved student family and community members in the development and implementation of school wellness policies?

MN: Using survey responses from 28 U.S. states representing 6,732 secondary schools on the 2008 School Health Profiles Survey we found that:
  • 46 percent of schools involved neither students’ families nor community members.
  • 37 percent of schools reported involving both students’ families and community members.
  • 10 percent involved community only.
  •  7 percent involved family only.

Town/rural schools and schools with lowest minority enrollment have higher rates of family and community involvement.

SC: Was there a difference between the healthy eating policies and practices when student families and community members were involved?

MN: Looking at the majority of healthy eating policies and practices in schools, it is clear that family involvement alone and with community involvement is associated with having more healthy eating policies. We grouped like policies together and found that policies related to the availability of less healthy snacks and engagement in healthy eating strategies were significantly better among schools with family only or family and community involvement.

Family involvement was significantly associated with higher rates of having fruits and vegetables available in school vending and offering fruits and vegetables at school celebrations. Neither family nor community involvement was significantly associated with positive marketing or only healthy vending policies.

SC: In summary, what do you think about the changes?

MN: I think the changes are a step in the right direction. Efforts to include family and community members are beneficial, but this is only one piece of the food environment that impacts the food choices that students and their families make every day.

Bronx Health REACH: Working to Improve Nutrition and Physical Activity in South Bronx Schools

First Lady Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move campaign in 2010 to turn a bright spotlight on the nation’s epidemic of childhood obesity. The campaign encourages schools to become healthy worksites, create wellness councils, join the USDA’s Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge, incorporate nutrition and physical education into their curriculum, and plant gardens.


Bronx Health REACH, a coalition of over 70 community and faith-based organizations that has worked to reduce health disparities in the South Bronx for over 10 years, is contributing to this effort with two new programs. The first is an evidence-based nutrition education program known as “Bienestar/NEEMA,” which was created by the Social and Health Research Center in San Antonio, Texas. With funding from the Johnson & Johnson/Johns Hopkins Community Health Care Scholars Program, REACH will work with three public elementary schools in the South Bronx, training teachers to teach the curriculum, which includes six 45-minute classes taught once per week.


Children who receive the program will learn about choosing healthy foods, the steps to good health, and setting personal goals every week to improve their habits. As part of the program, parents of participating children will attend afterschool workshops addressing such topics as sugar-sweetened beverages, eating home-cooked meals, increasing fruits and vegetable consumption and engaging in physical activity. In addition, parents will be given a pedometer and step log to track the number of steps they are taking in a day with the goal of reaching 10,000 daily steps.


Evaluation will consist of pre and post surveys to measure changes in children’s nutrition knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. The children’s height and weight measurements will also be taken prior to program implementation and again at the conclusion.


The long-term goal is to expand the program to reach 600 students in the third and fourth grades in elementary schools in the South Bronx over the next two years.


In addition to the Bienestar/NEEMA Health Program, Bronx Health REACH is funded by the New York State Department of Health to help improve school wellness policies and practices in two South Bronx school districts. This program, known as HEA+LTHY Schools NY, worked on three policy areas during the 2010-2011 school year: competitive foods (foods sold or served during fundraisers, celebrations, and in vending machines), physical fitness (developing a physical education plan for each school so that each child receives a minimum of 120 minutes of physical activity per week), and tobacco-free policies for within and around the school.


Due to funding cuts, the program will focus exclusively on physical education and physical activity programs during the 2011-2012 school year. Policy initiatives will include advocating for increased classroom-based physical activity programs (e.g., structured physical activity breaks scheduled during class time), using creative scheduling and other methods to help schools achieve the required 120 minutes of weekly physical education, advocating for at least 20 minutes of daily recess, and facilitating the creation of playstreets and other physical activity “inducements” in the built environment.


HEA+LTHY Schools NY is also working beyond school buildings in an effort to ensure that strong school wellness policies are adopted and enforced at the district level, and eventually city-wide. To this end, the program has created a Policy Advisory Committee that meets monthly as part of the Bronx Health REACH Nutrition and Fitness Workgroup. The meetings are attended by community coalition members and representatives from a variety of non-profit organizations concerned with school wellness in the Bronx. The program is building momentum and looks forward to more progress in the 2011-2012 school year.


For more information, please visit

WARMRegards, a Resource for Automated Reminder Messaging in Public Health Programs

US Netcom Corp is pleased to announce WARMRegards, a monthly e-newsletter focusing on using automated messages in WIC and other public health programs. The non-commercial newsletter discusses best practices, regulatory and funding information, and case studies for appointment reminders delivered via email, phone, or SMS. Automated reminder messaging by phone call, SMS text message, or email can improve outcomes in the areas of:
  • Community Outreach - Letting them know who you are and what you do.
  • Increased Participation – Providing members of target groups a timely incentive to enroll as a Participant.
  • Participant Education – Delivering helpful content information to Participants at the point in time when they can benefit from it the most.
  • Delivery of Participant Services - Appointment reminders reduce no-shows and cause them to arrive better prepped and with whatever you tell them to bring with them.
  • Participant Benefits Administration - Remind them of EBT activation, remaining balances, expiration, etc..
  • Service Provider Coordination – Timely and frequent information updates.
  • Business Continuity - In time of emergency/disaster tell your staff, service providers and participants what they need to know.

To read recent issues, or to sign up for the newsletter, please visit the subscription page at or contact Kim Gustafson at (888) 910-3329, ext 1103.

Leveraging Media through Communities: Putting Prevention to Work, a Joint Session between HCWG and the Food & Nutrition Section

We are pleased to announce a joint scientific session between the Health Communication Working Group of the Public Health Education and Health Promotion Section and the Food and Nutrition Section for the upcoming APHA Annual Meeting to take place in Washington, D.C., Oct. 29- Nov. 2, 2011. Suzanne Gates, CDC-CPPW Media/Communication Team Leader, will moderate the session, entitled  Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), Obesity Campaigns Big and Small: Laying the Groundwork for Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change.

Media is a critical community strategy to prevent and reduce obesity. Five panelists chosen from the 50 CPPW communities will show how integrating media strategies into community nutrition and physical activity interventions makes healthy living easier. The presentations will cover modeling tobacco media best practices to reduce sugary drink consumption, creating a social media plan that promotes a local menu labeling initiative, and implementing a low-cost online media campaign to promote healthy food choices and environments. The session will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011, at 2:30 p.m. The abstract for the session can be found here.

The mission of HCWG is to create a forum for interaction and information exchange to encourage innovative theory and research-based, consumer-oriented health communication programs and processes that are fully integrated into public health practice and health communication research. We will accomplish this by building a network of health communication and public health professionals, researchers, students, and medical practitioners.

Thanks to the Section program planning chairs for coordinating these collaborative efforts: Food and Nutrition Section, Ann Middleton, MPH; HCWG, Doug Rupert, MPH; and PHEHP, Marilynn Gardner, PhD.

Would You Like to Become a Newsletter Guest Editor?

Do you want to become more involved in the Food and Nutrition Section, but you aren’t sure how? Become a F&N newsletter guest editor! You will have the opportunity to network with others in public health nutrition community and to share cutting-edge issues with F&N members. Guest editors each work on soliciting content for one issue. The role requires APHA and F&N membership, and just a few hours in the two months leading up to the newsletter edition. If you are interested, please email

Newsletter Submissions

Are you teaching an innovative public health nutrition course? Working on an exciting project? Do you have a job opening or a conference you’d like to promote?  Food and Nutrition Section members are encouraged to submit content to the newsletter, which is published online three times annually. The submission deadlines for 2012 will be announced after the Annual Meeting, but are likely to be in mid-February, mid-June, and mid-September, 2012. Email news, research updates or announcements to the newsletter co-editors at