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The Kansas Human Health

Task Force

Coordinator: Dan Nagengast, nagengast@earthlink.net

The Human Health and the Environment Task Force works to assist the Governor on her Healthy Kansans initiative, addressing such issues as childhood obesity, school nutrition issues, and agricultural production practices as they relate to the nutritional density of foods, freshness and other desirable food qualities, and the environment. This task force seeks to connect with communities, research universities, producer groups, and health and nutrition professionals to insure a climate of healthy food production in a healthy environment. The Task Force tracks scientific research on issues such as decline in the nutritional density and palatability of foods, processing-related nutritional issues, antibiotic resistance linked to livestock production, food production related air and water pollution, and other food and health related topics. It strives to undertake Farm to Cafeteria projects which provide fresh local food to institutional food service operations.

Increasingly, in this society, many of our chronic health issues are based on poor nutrition.  Issues such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity all have their origins in food and eating habits.

We are what we eat, and there is increased concern over early childhood obesity due to overconsumption of sugar, and general inadequate nutrition. Food Policy Councils have sought to address this issue with nutritional education intervention in homes, schools and recreational settings. Research also plays a strong role here, especially in the interdisciplinary areas of food qualities and nutrition.

An exciting area of investigation concerns health problems related to how food is produced and whether this effects its functional nutritional worth. A related issue is the possible incidental ingestion of carcinogens related to an historical switch to prepared and preserved foods instead of home-prepared whole foods. Finally there are human health questions arising from water and air pollution brought about by agricultural practices and the possible overuse of antibiotics.

Stakeholders/Task Force Members include non-profit organizations concerned with human nutrition and health; medical researchers; KSU extension personnel involved in pollution prevention; academic programs and centers at state universities; federal agencies; KDHE personnel; schools and school lunch programs; and agencies concerned with ethnic predisposition towards nutritionally related diseases.

Milestones:

  • Begun discussions about Farm to Cafeteria projects with Ks. Dept. of Education, KSU, and the University of Missouri.

  • Hosted "Healthy Foods - Healthy Farms" conference with KSU which directly addressed the issues of human nutrition and food quality in Spring of 2006. Attended by numerous administration employees from KDHE, SRS, etc.

  • Hosted Interactive Training with the University of Missouri and Kansas State University: Bringing the Farm to School Food Services, June 2006. Kansas Site had 17 participants.

  • Initiated Pilot Test of EBT machines at two farmers markets with Local Foods Task Force.

  • Wrote Farmers Market Promotion Program grant to expand use of EBT machines to 15 more markets (unsuccessful).

  • Worked with Food Security Task Force to seek state funding to expand use of EBT machines to 15 more markets (pending).

  • Investigating funding of up to 9 Farm to Cafeteria pilot projects with the Department of Agriculture use of Specialty Crop dollars.

  • Development and Testing of web based regional marketing tool for use by local growers and institutional food services.

  • Hosted "The Well-Being of Rural Kansas: Healthy People, Healthy Environment, and Healthy Economies" conference with ISU in Spring of 2007.

  • Developing an on-line brokering service for growers and institutional food systems for testing in 2007. http://www.kansasrivervalley.com/

For more information, contact: Dan Nagengast 785/748-0959 nagengast@earthlink.net

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