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Food Literacy Project partnership serves the local youth and SPHIS students

Researchers from the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky (CIK) are collaborating with the Food Literacy Project (FLP) to complete an evaluation as part of a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Aishia Brown, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, is leading the project team.

The evaluation, which began September 2019 and will continue through October 2020, is designed to increase the FLP's capacity to implement food, garden and nutrition education programs that advance the nutritional health, academic success, leadership development, economic well-being and civic engagement of youth and families in Louisville, Kentucky, particularly in underserved South Louisville. Results will enhance FLP’s programs and the communities they serve as well as contribute to evidence-based obesity prevention and program sustainability. 

SPHIS alumna, Angelique Perez, MPH, is leading the evaluation as FLP Associate Director. Angelique works closely with youth, families, educational and healthcare institutions, corporations, government agencies, non-profits, neighborhood leaders, small businesses and healthy food purveyors. With more than 12 years of experience, she has a rich understanding of the complex issues surrounding food, agriculture, health equity, and community wellness.

According to Angelique, Dr. Brown and doctoral candidate Shakeyrah Elmore, are leading a PhotoVoice process with FLP’s Youth Community Agriculture Program (YCAP) participants. YCAP provides youth employment and leadership development opportunities for teens throughout the year. She sees a great value in using PhotoVoice because it “is helping these young leaders leverage their perspectives and actively use their voices to drive community change.”

SPHIS and FLP have a long history of working together. For several years, the school’s Gray Street Farmers Market (GSFM) has made it possible for YCAP participants to build communication and entrepreneurial skills by growing and selling produce at the market. GSFM also offered technical assistance and support as the Food Literacy Project relaunched the South Points Farmers Market in South Louisville in 2018. 

Additionally, SPHIS students have worked with the Food Literacy Project by implementing programs and contributing in more behind-the-scenes roles. One MPH practicum student helped with the conceptual framework and evaluation plan for the YCAP summer employment program. Another MPH student helped develop and pilot an “academic track” for YCAP participants, which leverages food and agriculture-themed project-based learning to advance academic progress across subject areas.

Angelique described FLP’s view on working with students: “We invest practicum students with real responsibility. We work with students to develop meaningful projects that align with the organization’s needs and allow them to own the work involved. This experience is invaluable as students launch their careers.”  

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