Good Food Life: Gwendoline Imes, MS, RD
Physical Activity and Nutrition Unit Manager, Michigan Department of Community Health, Lansing, MI
What is your role at the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH)?
GI: I serve as the Unit Manager for the MDCH Physical Activity and Nutrition Program.
How does the Michigan Department of Community Health work towards the goals of the Good Food Charter?
GI: The MDCH provides resources, training and technical assistance to local and state partners to improve the food environment in schools, communities, and worksites, as well as in childcare and faith-based institutions.
We work with many local coalitions and partners to make healthy changes to our food environment. Some of the changes we have been involved in include bringing new farmers markets to underserved communities, adding hoop houses to existing farmers markets, and assisting farmers markets to obtain equipment necessary to accept electronic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. We have also played a great role in creating new community gardens in Michigan and enhancing existing ones, as well as locating fresh fruits and vegetables for consumers in fringe outlets such as gas stations, convenience stores, and farm stands.
Lastly, MDCH also increases awareness of healthy eating recommendations through social media campaigns, professional development trainings, consumer outreach activities, and classroom-based health promotion and education programs.
What do you find most exciting or inspiring about what you’re doing?
GI: Seeing the actual changes and improvements in the food environment, particularly in underserved areas, and realizing that there is great potential for all of our state’s population to enjoy fresh, healthy foods and have equal opportunity to live the “good food life” is exciting to me and inspiring to my work.
What opportunities do you see for moving towards the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter?
GI: From a public health standpoint, the charter will help to implement environmental approaches that promote and support healthy eating. It will allow us to continue to target and improve lives in communities that have poor environments and are disproportionately affected by obesity and chronic diseases.