Superfund Research Program

November 2022

Dawn Brewer and Annie Koempel
University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center Community Engagement Core (CEC) leader Dawn Brewer, Ph.D., (left) spearheaded the Cooperative Extension event. Annie Koempel, Ph.D., (right) the CEC’s program manager, assisted with the Cooperative Extension event and led the kids’ camp event.

Sustainable eating: UK SRP Center staff and partners define sustainable eating as “choosing foods with low environmental impacts that contribute to human health and wellbeing.” They explained that sustainable eating protects biodiversity and ecosystems; fits with the local culture; is accessible to all and affordable; encompasses foods that are nutritionally adequate; is safe and healthful; and optimizes natural and human resources.

Four puzzle pieces
The image of a puzzle helped UK Cooperative Extension agents visualize how sustainable eating practices fit together to improve health and protect the environment.
Jerika Durham and Victoria Klaus
UK SRP Center graduate trainees Jerika Durham (left) and Victoria Klaus (right) led the Cowan Community Center Kid's Camp training event focused on healthy eating and environmental pollution.

University of Kentucky (UK) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center staff are teaching Kentucky residents to educate their communities about good nutrition and environmental stewardship. Staff members recently led two train-the-trainer events introducing tools and curricula for teaching adults and children.

The UK SRP Center’s expertise is in how dietary and lifestyle interventions can help protect against the harmful effects of environmental toxins. These events are the latest in the Center’s efforts to share actionable nutrition and lifestyle information across the state.

SRP Center staff Dawn Brewer, Ph.D., and Annie Koempel, Ph.D., and UK assistant professor of extension Heather Norman, Ph.D., partnered with the UK Cooperative Extension program for an event walking extension program agents through a new curriculum focused on sustainable eating.

The event leaders described what sustainable eating means, discussed ways to reduce food waste, talked about the health and environmental benefits of locally grown food, and introduced mindful eating—focusing on the food instead of distractions while eating—to improve health. The newly trained Extension agents will now begin piloting the curriculum in communities across Kentucky.

In another event, SRP Center trainees Jerika Durham and Victoria Klaus introduced planners and counselors at Cowan Community Center Kid's Camp in Letcher County, Kentucky, in the Appalachian Region, to kid-friendly experiments, activities, and lessons created by center staff. Koempel moderated the event.

The materials teach children about good nutrition, being good stewards of the environment, and how eating fruits and vegetables may protect them against environmental pollution. For example, one experiment demonstrates how vitamin C acts as an antioxidant. Another activity shows the stages of the scientific method and how to use it to identify potential environmental risks.

Events like these work toward the UK SRP Center’s Community Engagement Core goals by providing communities with actionable information, like nutrition advice, to increase people’s resiliency to the effects of environmental toxins.