Christine Hamann is an MBA/MPH Candidate at the Haas School of Business and UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
Roughly the size of the state of West Virginia, Navajo Nation spans 27,425 square miles. It is dry, rural, and remote, and the USDA has classified the entire nation as a food desert. An estimated 10 percent of Navajo Nation members have diabetes, and three times that number are estimated to have pre diabetes. The Community Outreach, Patient Empowerment (COPE) Project is working to find community-based solutions to change the landscape of healthy food access in Navajo. The Final Mile, an Eat.Think.Design. team, took the charge of designing a reliable and consistent mechanism to bring healthy food into remote Navajo communities.
In August 2013, an Eat.Think.Design. student traveled to New Mexico to work with Partner In Health’s COPE team to prototype different market interventions for getting fresh produce into communities with limited access to healthy foods in Navajo Nation. This took place through two prototypes–the first was used to determine what produce was in demand and the second was used to measure willingness to pay for those items. The responses collected via participant surveys at each prototype will help inform the location and type of future healthy food interventions for the COPE Project to build with Navajo Nation. The results informed the COPE team and partners that community members are indeed looking for a more permanent food option (i.e. physical store space) as opposed to a mobile market, and the action taken has sparked interest and commitment from several local partners.
Due to the COPE Project’s focus on healthy food interventions and work proven through the ETD project, COPE was recently awarded a REACH grant for $1,000,000 per year for three years that will be used for improving chronic disease prevention and access to healthy foods in Navajo Nation.
For more information: Partner In Health’s COPE program and award
*image credits: http://www.pih.org/media/cope-slideshow