The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today recognized leaders in nutrition and physical activity at the 2018 Iowa Governor’s Conference on Public Health in Des Moines. The leaders must emulate the IDPH Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity’s vision of “an Iowa where healthy living is accessible, valued and supported by all.”
- Seasoned Nutrition Leader: Sofia Mehaffey of Horizons, with agency headquarters in Cedar Rapids. Mehaffey has worked to coordinate efforts to bring the Double-Up Food Bucks program to the downtown Cedar Rapids farmers market, and is coordinating an effort to expand to an additional two markets in the region. She serves on local food coalitions, such as the Linn County Food Systems Council and Food Environment Alliance, advocating for the underserved and ensuring group members and planners include this population in their efforts.
- Seasoned Physical Activity Leader: Sonita Oldfield-Carlson, Milestones Area Agency on Aging. Oldfield-Carlson is program facilitator and actively participates in evidence-based programs like Matter of Balance and Tai Chi for Arthritis Falls Prevention. Establishing partnerships with health care systems and churches to deliver falls prevention workshops, Oldfield-Carlson strives to deliver services to as many seniors as possible.
- Seasoned Nutrition and Physical Activity Leader: Jo Ellen Haddad, Witwer Healthy Aging. Haddad provides leadership to more than 50 volunteers who provide over 2,000 programs each year to help older adults remain active and healthy in the community. With particular attention to issues related to nutrition and physical health, Haddad oversees programs like Chronic Conditions, Matter of Balance, Stepping On, Fresh Conversations and Tai Chi.
- Emerging Physical Activity Leader: Jes Wegner, Gundersen Palmer Community Health. Wegner’s leadership of a walkability initiative in West Union includes daily Walking School Bus routes, fun “Whistle Walks” for community engagement, and much needed infrastructure improvements along walking routes in town.
- Emerging Nutrition and Physical Activity Leader: Beth Frailey, Dallas County Public Health. Frailey oversees the implementation of Dallas County’s Health Improvement Plan, specifically leading efforts to increase physical activity and improve access to healthy and affordable food. Her work with the Hunger-Free Dallas County coalition provides leadership to implement system and environmental level changes to improve access to healthy food.
- Organizational Nutrition Leader: Brendan Comito, Capital City Fruit Company. Capital City Fruit Company in Norwalk, under the direction of Chief Operating Officer Brendan Comito, is leading the promotion of fresh produce consumption. Representing Capital City Fruit on the National Board of Directors for the United Fresh Produce Association and the local Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) Food Pantry Board, Comito and his company were early supporters of providing fresh produce to local food pantries.
For more information about the IDPH Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity, its programs and grants, visit https://www.idph.iowa.gov/nutrition-physical-activity.