Tag Archives: centers for disease control and prevention

Healthier meetings lead to a healthier workplace

Meetings are a necessary part of our workday. We often talk about making our meetings more productive and less time-consuming, but have we ever thought about making our meetings healthier? Our Michigan State University Extension Health and Nutrition Institute is working on that.

MSU Extension educator Dawn Earnesty has been recently trained as a Work@Health certified trainer through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. Dawn is piloting the CDC’s new comprehensive program that uses the CDC health scorecard to assess the health of a worksite. The scorecard includes 125 questions focused on health topics such as organizational supports, tobacco control, nutrition, physical activity, weight management and stress management. Based on a business’s scorecard results, Dawn works with health committee members made up of its employees, training them to work with leadership to make healthy program, policy and environmental changes within the worksite. Through the CDC program, Dawn will be engaging five local businesses to become trained in September. She’ll work with additional businesses in the future.

One way to improve overall worksite health is to improve the health of our meetings – both at internal and external sites. We spend nearly half of our waking hours at work with many of those hours spent in meetings and conferences. By adopting healthy meeting guidelines, MSU Extension can help to create an environment that supports employees’ and stakeholders’ efforts to eat well and be physically active.

The National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) in the Center for Science in the Public Interest provided recommendations to improve the health of in-person and virtual meetings. The guidelines include general recommendations and specifics related to beverages, food, physical activity and sustainability as well as tobacco-free guidelines. They also include recommendations for a standard healthy meeting or a superior healthy meeting. Meeting hosts can make gradual improvements to reach the higher standard.

NANA provided the Healthy Meeting Toolkit that you can also share with partners that may host meetings. Organizations, institutions and companies have the opportunity to take the NANA Healthy Meeting Pledge to adopt healthy meeting practices through the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Having healthy meetings, conferences and events helps to create an environment that supports employees and members in their efforts to eat well and be physically active. As we make gradual changes as an organization, in the future we can look at the opportunity of taking the pledge ourselves.

In the meantime, let’s watch for opportunities to incorporate these healthy practices in our meetings. It’s a great model for us to recognize that when we’re doing educational programming, we’re telling others what they should do and how they should do it. Yet, if we’re not demonstrating the same good practices that we’re suggesting others follow, it cuts into our credibility with them. Let’s look for those occasions not only with our dietary choices but also with programming in physical activities that make for a healthy lifestyle.

If you know of a business that’s interested in a healthier worksite or just want to know more about promoting healthier worksites, contact Dawn at wilcoxd4@msu.edu.

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The Michigan WISEWOMAN Entrepreneurial Gardening Project brings encouragement and hope to women

Sometimes knowing you have the power to improve your situation through hard work and determination can give you the courage to get you through financial hardship. There’s a program that’s empowering women to find that inner strength while learning about nutrition and gardening in the process.

 Since 2001, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has administered the WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) program to empower women living in low-income situations to make healthy lifestyle choices. In 2008, Michigan State University Extension in Ogemaw County piloted the WISEWOMAN Entrepreneurial Gardening Project, which was coordinated by Helen DeFlorio, MSUE Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) program instructor. The project added a gardening component to the WISEWOMAN program. It was such a success that the MDCH contacted Diane Rellinger, Extension educator, to pursue options for expansion. In 2010, five other counties joined Ogemaw County in the program – Antrim, Charlevoix, Crawford, Missaukee and Otsego – and 24 women participated. Diane provides overall program and budgetary coordination for the six counties.

 The MDCH received a $52,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and partnering with MSUE, it used the grant to expand the project. The grant allowed the purchase of gardening supplies, plants and fencing. It provided for educational resources, farmers market registration fees, signage, gardening workshops, travel dollars for the participants to get to classes and the farmers markets, and vendor supplies, such as tents, tables and promotional items. MSUE SNAP-Ed, MSUE Master Gardeners, the MDCH, the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency, District Health Department #2 and District Health Department #10 work together to make this project possible.

 Says Diane Rellinger, “This project was a great example of transformational education. It provided a network of support that created enthusiasm and positive behavior change. We saw women bond together and get excited about their health, their new gardening knowledge and the opportunity to increase their incomes through selling their own produce at local farm markets.”

Patti plans for gradn opening

Patti McGee makes plans for her farm market grand opening.

 Patti McGee developed a garden to sell produce at next year’s grand opening of her new McGee Family Farm Market. Patti’s goal is to live off the income generated from the market.

 Teresa Norwick grew vegetables at the Otsego County Alternative Landscaping Demonstration Garden. Through the grant, she was able to rent a plot and begin a garden.
Teresa Norwick poses with her new wagon.

Teresa Norwick was able to rent a plot and begin a garden through the grant.

 Both women learned a great deal about gardening and nutrition.

 MSUE Master Gardeners instructed the women in gardening procedures and encouraged them to keep a gardening journal. Teresa learned to use lasagna organic composting. The name comes from the layering method used in the process. Both Teresa and Patti helped build their own hoop houses to extend the gardening season. Jack Middleton, retired MSUE Otsego County Extension director, guided the hoop house building and also installed drip irrigation.

 The WISEWOMAN program emphasizes making healthier food choices, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and being more physically active. The SNAP-Ed nutrition education series provided eight lessons based on dietary guidelines and tailored the lessons to this age group (ages 40 to 64). The gardening efforts provided increased opportunities to be physically active. Women reported losing weight and feeling better due to their dietary changes and increased activity.

Teresa stockpiles organic lasagna ingredients.

Teresa Norwick stockpiles organic lasagna ingredients.

 According to Rebecca Fleis, MSUE Otsego County program associate, “The amazing thing about the project is the immense blessing a little seed funding can have in the lives of women. Often participants were in very difficult times in their lives financially; the opportunity to be part of the WISEWOMAN Entrepreneurial Gardening Project brought encouragement and hope for their future.”

Teresa Norwick and RebeccaFleis

Teresa Norwick (left) and Rebecca Fleis, Extension program associate, stand in Teresa’s hoop house.

 Master Gardener coordinators, Cydney Steeb in Charlevoix County, Lora Freer in Ogemaw County, and Ed Doss in Otsego and Crawford counties, provided gardening education and ongoing support, and Master Gardener volunteers also lent their expertise to designing and growing healthy gardens. SNAP-Ed staff members Lori Eccles, program associate; Megan Rapelje, program instructor; Susan Warren, program associate; Rebecca Fleis and Helen DeFlorio provided nutrition education classes to encourage healthier food choices and provide instruction in using and preserving the garden vegetables grown by the WISEWOMAN participants. Steve Fouch, Extension educator, provided training on how to take produce from the garden to the farm market. 

 Key partners at the MDCH were Robin Roberts, WISEWOMAN program manager, and Viki Lorraine, WISEWOMAN program intervention specialist, along with the lifestyle counselors at the local health departments who identified program participants.

 These are some powerful testimonials. They will be even more powerful if we’re gathering evaluation data that can help us to quantify the effect this program is having on the health and financial well being of participants.

 To learn more, go to http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132–240962–,00.html.

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