Nutrition and Health-Enhancing Projects for Minority-Serving Institutions

Detailed descriptions of Nutrition and Health-Enhancing Projects for Minority-Serving Institutions are included below. These projects were funded between 2005-2007.

Maui Community College, 1 of 10 campuses of the University of Hawaii system consortium project University of Hawaii Agribusiness Education, Training and Incubator Project (AETI), 2006, developed and introduced a student innovation, sugar-free oatcake. The bakery item was created by a diabetic student and retails at the Pa'ina Bakery as a healthy solution for Hawaii's obese and Type II diabetic population. The former student and graduate works in a commercial bakery and creates sugar free products. In addition to food product manufacturing, the college's Maui Culinary Academy, has helped several local farm producers develop value-added food products. Clientele ranges from small producers to larger Hawaiian companies. The academy, in collaboration with local agricultural producers, made significant progress in the development and marketing of value-added retail food products. Maui Culinary Academy is now seeking funds to offer the first culinology degree program in Hawaii. The academy's success rate includes a 333 percent increase in gross sales of retail products during its first 2 years of operation. Christopher Speere, professor of Culinary Arts, Maui Community College, University of Hawaii Agribusiness Education, Training, and Incubator Project, is the project director.

The University of Hawaii-led partnership The Healthy Living in the Pacific Islands (HLPI), an initiative on nutrition and local food production integration, received another award from NIFA to expand the project with collaborators from the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The initiative's purpose is to increase consumption of local foods, nutrition education, and physical activity for islanders. Completed activities include a children's nutrition survey in American Samoa, a guide to traditional food preservation methods for the Marshall Islands, physical activity training for school teachers, and an online dietary assessment tool called PacTrac, adapted for the Pacific Islander diet. Visit the Healthy Stores for more information on the Healthy Living in the Pacific- Healthy Pacific Child Program. Local producers and distributors contributed to the success of this project. Post intervention data are currently being analyzed to determine the impact of the intervention. Rachel Novotny, professor, University of Hawaii, and program director, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, HI, is the project director.

The University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus' Community Wellness Training in Alaska (CWA) implemented a 30-credit Community Wellness Advocate Certificate Program, which is now state-wide in Alaska . The program addresses poor nutrition habits experienced by many Alaskans and promotes healthy and nutritious traditional native herbal traditional fruits and plants. Alaska is vastly different from other states due to its geography, extreme climatic conditions, and low population density. Travel and communication hardships have overwhelming impacts on health care delivery and continuity. The program has established online courses, Web-based courseware, and faculty and student support through a collaborative partnership between the university and the Native-run Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), including the Alaska Department of Health and partners. Kathie Etulain, assistant director, University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka Campus, is the project director.

The University of Alaska-Fairbanks' Inupiaq Health Science project develops short-term trainings for the community on the North Slope to gain awareness and education in health-related topics. Courses on Inupiaq Medical Terminology and Inupiaq Food Science help by offering health career exploration camps for local students. The project will identify the top 10 health issues of Inupiaq residents and develop health education programs to address the health issues identified by the community. The project also will survey the residents in finalizing the classes, seminars, and programs of interest to the residents across the North Slope. Clara Johnson, director, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Interior-Aleutians Campus, is the project director.

The Institute of American Indian Arts' research project "Native Foods in the Culinary Arts" seeks to promote the importance of native foods and culinary traditions in Native American communities across the United States as they relate to dietary health. The approach is holistic and multidimensional in the development of an innovative curriculum and earth-based culinary training program in cultivation, harvesting, processing, and preparing native crops and native plant gardens of the Southwest United States and the Americas. Tomas C. Enos, project director, Center for Indigenous Foods, The Institute of American Indian Arts, NM, is the project director, and Joseph Miller, professor, School of Agriculture and assistant director, Native American Programs, University of Arizona, is co-project director.

White Earth Tribal and Community College's "Wetcc/Umn/Badgersett Hazelnut Project" focuses on promoting under-used indigenous woody plants as a means to improve the diet, health, and economies of Native Americans. The hybrid hazelnuts are evaluated for hardiness, vigor, and productivity; the antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory activity of indigenous plants; and in commercially useful oils, resins, and waxes. Other native woody crops seedlings to be studied and propagated are butternuts, black walnuts, plums, roses, black cherries, chokeberries, and high bush cranberries. Steven Dahlberg, equity, extension and research director, White Earth Tribal and Community College, MN, is the project director. Dean Current, program director, Center for Integrated Natural Resource and Agricultural Management (CINRAM), Colleges of Natural Resources and Agriculture, University of Minnesota, MN, and Don Wyse, professor, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics and co-director of CINRAM, are co-project directors.

Fort Berthold Community College's project on "Comparing Establishment and Growth Characteristics of Juneberry Cultivars in the Northern Great Plains" re-establishes juneberry cultivars as native traditional foods or staples in Native Americans' diet at the Fort Berthold Reservation. During a 3-year establishment period, which began in late 2006, evaluation of cultivar growth, pest susceptibility, and overall health and value-added income characteristics are being conducted. Ronald Klein, plant and soil specialist, Fort Berthold Community College, ND, is the project director. Harlene Hatterman-Valenti, high value crop specialist, Department of Plant Sciences, North Dakota State University, is co-project director.

Little Priest Tribal College's "Winnebago Ethnobotany and Botanical Resource Propagation Project" identifies important traditional plants to research and record for medicinal and economic promotional purposes among the local tribes and others. H. Al Martyn, chair, Science Department, Little Priest College, NE, is the project director. Rhonda Janke, associate professor, Kansas State University and Kelly Kindscher, associate scientist, University of Kansas, are co-directors.

Blackfeet Community College's "Development of Two Medicinal Plant Species with Anti-diabetic Properties for Cultivation on Native Indian Reservations" validated hypoglycemic properties of two berry plant species, Thimble Berry and Saskatoon Berry. Final work is in progress to determine antidiabetic effects of plant leaf, stem, and root extracts of the two species. Wilbert Fish, extension specialist and herbalist, Blackfeet Community College, MT, is the project director. S. Rao Mentreddy, associate professor, crop science, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Alabama A&M University, Suresh Mathews, assistant professor, nutritional biochemistry, Nutrition and Food Science Department, Auburn University, AL, and Agnes Rimano, research chemist, Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, MS, are the co-project directors.

United Tribes Technical College's "On the Fringe of Survival: How the Wild Environment Gives Native Berries the Edge for Protection of Tribal People's Health Project" stimulated increased demand for wild-type berries both within tribal communities and outside markets, for long-term health improvement and economic development. Wild berries traditionally play an important role in the lives of Native Americans. For the first time, research outcomes included documentation of the bioactive potential of wild berry species, for example buffalo berries, specifically against diabetic inflammation and neurodegeneration. Study continues on the phytochemical properties of chokeberries, cranberries, juneberries, wild grapes, wild raspberries, etc., which could reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes and chronic diseases in tribal communities. Wanda Agnew and Karen Paetz (former project director and director of Land-Grant Program and project director and director of Land-Grant Program, respectively), is the project director. Mary Ann Lila, professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, and Ilya Raskin, professor, Plant Science Department, Rutgers University, NJ, are co-project directors.

Sisseton Wahpeton Community College's "Improving Today's Diets with Traditional Foods Program" completed community assessments, including surveys on dietary patterns and nutrition knowledge pertaining to and consumption of traditional and cultural foods by individuals on the Lake Traverse Reservation. Results showed concern/interest in learning more about nutrition since diabetes is increasing among Native Americans. Also, traditional food preservation through hunting, gathering, fishing, and gardening are still valued and hoped for by the community. Culturally sensitive and appropriate food and nutrition education will address the consumption of predominantly store-bought foods to encourage the return of all age groups to healthier traditional foods. Dedria Keeble, project coordinator, Sisseton Wahpeton Community College, SD, is the project director and Helen Chipman, NIFA national program leader for food and nutrition education program in the Families, 4-H, and Nutrition Unit, is co-project director.

The Hawaiian Horticulture and Nutrition course, through the University of Hawaii System Consortium Agribusiness Incubator Education Project, was developed and supported by NIFA funding. The course goals include providing a hands-on science course for non-majors, linking growing food with more healthy food choices, and exploring current agricultural and horticultural trends in a state that is in major transition from plantation to diversified agriculture. Effective activities include growing food plants and designating experiments to see how different factors impact growth. Students learn propagation skills for growing plants from seeds and cuttings to micro-propagation. Students visit a grocery store to analyze labeling and use the school's culinary kitchens to prepare healthy foods. To date, 102 students have completed the course, including 1 who is a plant ecology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hawaii. A number of students report preparing and choosing more nutritious foods and growing their own plants. Priscilla Millen, Leeward Community College, is the project director.