A happy father and child

Public Policy Associates, Inc. is the evaluation partner of the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities’ Cultivating Community Resilience project. This project is devoted to improving culinary medicine education and culinary literacy training in Michigan.

A key education vehicle in their work is their Farms, Food & Health Conference, held in Traverse City in fall 2019. The purpose of this conference was to provide an opportunity for stakeholders from every background to deepen their knowledge, create new partnerships, and foster a broad network dedicated to healthy eating.

According to Meghan McDermott, Groundwork’s Director of Programs, “We believe that compelling communications and educational events are essential to movement-building. The Farms, Food & Health Conference and related communications are intended to promote a culture of healthy eating in northwest Michigan that connects the health and wellness industry with our local and regional food sector. With this multi-sector event, we can tell the stories of successful, inspiring efforts to connect the dots between farms, food, and health in our region and throughout the Midwest.”

Along with conference-wide keynotes and a provider Expo, the three-day conference included over two dozen educational sessions on such topics as locally sourced vegetables, the role of food in alleviating depression, assessing and improving food systems, and increasing access to healthy foods. The event also included organized excursions outside the conference proper, such as to the Oryana Community Co-op and the Sara Hardy Farmers Market. Follow-up surveys indicate that participants greatly appreciated both the quality and quantity of opportunities available at the conference.

“Our Culinary Medicine Training provides intensive nutrition skill-building so that practitioners gain new tools that they can share with colleagues and enhance their own ability to have meaningful patient interactions around food selection, diets, and nutrition,” said food and farming policy specialist Paula Martin. Skill-building opportunities also included a chance to pursue continuing education credits, with assessments to measure how well health care providers learned key concepts related to healthy eating.

Evaluator Nancy McCrohan emphasized the role of evaluation in strengthening educational programming. “This is their fourth large education event, and these are growing in demand each year. We are helping Groundwork Center to formalize an assessment of the most valuable features of the event, the impacts on providers, and the feasibility of scaling up the culinary medicine.”

PPA has extensive experience assessing policies and programs to support equitable food systems. For more information, contact Dr. McCrohan at nmccrohan@publicpolicy.com or 517-485-4477.