Good Food Life: Poppy Sias Hernandez

Public Health Educator, Public Health Muskegon County, Muskegon, MI

Poppy Hernandez is a Health Educator with Public Health Muskegon County in the city of Muskegon, Mich.

What is your role with Public Health Muskegon County (PHMC)?

PSH: As a Health Educator with PHMC, my role is to bring community based organizations together to provide high quality prevention services to youth in Muskegon County. I coordinate the Growing Goods Project which brings together multiple community based organizations to provide a high quality summer school experience that teaches life skills and academic core curriculum in the classrooms at Muskegon Middle School and at urban farm sites throughout the City of Muskegon. The over-arching goals of the project target middle and high school youth and include: reducing their risks for substance abuse, unintended pregnancy and STI transmission, obesity and violence.

How does PHMC work toward the goals of the Good Food Charter?

PSH:  PHMC has multiple initiatives that currently work towards the goals of the GFC. Examples include the “Eat Healthy Muskegon” project and the “Growing Goods Project.” The Growing Goods Project is putting healthy, green, fair and affordable into action, through making food accessible and affordable to many while paying a fair wage to producers.

What do you find most exciting or inspiring about what you’re doing?

PSH: It is inspiring to see relationship building yield tangible healthy outcomes. As a mother I see the value in eating together and sharing not just food, but experiences. Through the Growing Goods Project, I get to see an entire community coming together through healthy eating and eating together.  They share build relationships through eating good food.

What opportunities do you see for moving toward the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter and where do you see those leading in the next five to ten years?

PSH: I think we have a real working model for engaging an entire community in “Good Food” and I could see it being implemented in other school districts. Even bigger, the collaborative aspect of the project encourages those of us that work in health and prevention work to create opportunities that combine our efforts for further reach and better results. The goals of the GFC provide a fantastic framework to help us build consensus and in turn develop action steps that are community specific.

What is one thing you’ve learned through your experience that you’d like to share with others?

PSH:  Food is at the core of our health. Growing food, preparing a meal and then sharing it provides the chance to talk and educate each other on living well. I think sometimes we are so busy trying to check all of the boxes in life with “done” that we miss out on opportunities that will grow us. 

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