Superfund Research Program
Community Engagement Core
Project Leader: Lisa M. Gaetke
Grant Number: P42ES007380
Funding Period: 2005-2020
Project Summary (2014-2020)
Responding to community needs, UK-SRC’s Community Engagement Core (CEC) has provided support and guidance through critical information on nutrition and environmental issues to meet the needs of individuals and communities affected by environmental pollutants. This purpose is underscored through the title of its activities, Superfund Community Action through Nutrition (SCAN). During previous funding, the CEC established a close collaboration with community groups in eastern and western Kentucky, and SCAN activities, endorsed by these two communities, provided a new service resource for nutrition and scientific information. The aim of SCAN is to empower affected individuals and communities to take proactive steps toward their own health by drawing on the strength of the nutrition-related research from the UK-SRC.
The specific aims of the CEC include:
- Establish trust with and assess the needs of affected individuals and communities with consideration of sensitive issues at the previously established site in Appalachia and a newly established third site in central Kentucky;
- Engage individuals, communities, health professionals, trusted community leaders, Kentucky Cooperative Extension agents, Environmental Protection Agency and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry personnel, and other partners to work together through bidirectional exchanges to guarantee effective communication and to build capacity in the affected communities to foster community participatory processes;
- Inform and translate the research information from UK-SRC researchers through community-requested activities developed by Registered Dietitians (RDs), and to evaluate outcome measures that demonstrate community sustainability and improved knowledge, attitudes, and health behaviors of the nutrition and environmental health focus; and
- Provide related community feedback, outcomes, and evaluations to UK-SRC’s nutrition and environmental researchers in order to refine and develop safe, evidenced-based nutrition and environmental health strategies that reduce the toxicity of PCB’s and related compounds and improve public health.
Exposure to Superfund chemicals has been shown to affect public health by contributing to an increased risk for chronic diseases especially in combination with poor diet. Through collaboration with the community and community partners, the CEC’s SCAN activities empower affected individuals to make more informed decisions about their diet and health and improve nutrition and environmental health knowledge and behaviors to serve all interested individuals, families, and communities and thereby enhance public health.