Community Health Hubs: A Collaborative Approach to Inclusion and Diversity in Growing a Healthy Regional Food System


Project Leader

Grace Peterson
Associate Extension Agent (SNAP-Ed/Horticulture)
Louisiana State University


Team Member

Deborah (Cookie) Coleman
Nutrition Educator
Louisiana State University

What is the issue your proposal will address?

Northwest Louisiana, including the metropolitan areas of Shreveport and Bossier City, has an active campaign advocating for a healthy food system. Cooperative Extension has facilitated collaborations in support of this movement – including ones with LSU Allied Health and the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana. One major challenge we have encountered is that residents living in low-income, predominately African American neighborhoods are minimally involved in this initiative. Many of these communities are food deserts where nutritious food is crucial to health and food is an important part of cultural identities for people living there. Engaging residents from these neighborhoods in roles of leadership, planning, programming, and advocacy is an important foundation for a diverse and inclusive food system. We want to develop a strategy that encourages residents and leaders to participate in the local food system movement. We need a sustainable and replicable approach that invites individuals living in low-income neighborhoods to participate in food system planning, activities, programming, and advocacy. We believe that diversity is an essential principle supporting a healthy food system, and the inclusion and support of this sector of our population will be a major step forward toward that goal.

What is your proposed solution?

We propose combining the unique resources of Cooperative Extension, Allied
Health, and our regional Food Bank to create a Community Health Hub at one of the local food pantry locations as a pilot for future projects. A Community Health Hub (CHH) may be defined as a neighborhood location at which a collaborative array of services, health screenings, programming, and culturally relevant activities and celebrations can take place. Developing a network of CHHs is an innovative strategy that combines resources in establishing a sustained presence at a local neighborhood location with a diverse range of offerings that can meaningfully engage and connect all sectors of the local community. The CHH provides an ideal location offering opportunities for local residents to participate in all aspect in creating a healthy food system – including planning, leadership, programming, and advocacy. It is a strategy that can inclusively reach the needs of all ethnicities, genders, cultures, and age ranges. This pilot initiative will be
designed to be replicable in other locations in our region.

What is the innovative component or strategy you will implement as a result of the design-a-thon?

How did the design-a-thon help you?

Project Affiliates

Martha Marak, Executive Director,Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana

Cindy Murray, Associate Professor, Program in Occupational Therapy, School of Allied Health Professions, LSU Health – Shreveport

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