D2: Addressing Social Determinants of Health in Schools: Meeting Basic Needs of School-aged Children

The Best Food Forward (BFF) project aims to provide multiple nutrition supports to improve family food security, academic, behavioral and health outcomes within two school districts in Flint (SD1) and Warren (SD2), MI. BFF includes several multi-level interventions focused within schools and the surrounding communities. The social supports and networks that were established prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic increased school capacity to facilitate a rapid response to the food security needs of families in SD1 and SD2. Through a quasi-experimental time-series design, a multi-level evaluation was administered for BFF and includes completion of validated surveys and biometric assessments among a random sample of (n=122) parents and (n=162) youth participants & focus groups among a subsample of participants (n=6 parents and n=6 youth). Results indicate reductions in the number of families who reported very low food security status (SD1: 4%; SD2: 15%) and having to choose between medical care and food (SD1: 12%; SD2: 3%), despite the pandemic. Families (60%) also reported loss of employment in their households due to the pandemic. Results will be compared at time points pre and post the onset of COVID-19. The effectiveness of the BFF project on improving economic and nutritional wellness among low-income families is promising. Collaborative approaches that increase school capacity to address food insecurity has shown early success within the context of a global pandemic. Projects like BFF can provide a roadmap for health professionals nation-wide to determine effective measures and approaches in collaborating with schools to improve community health.

Jordan Fuhrmeister (Moderator)

Associate Project Director


Jordan Fuhrmeister, MPH, CHESĀ® is an Associate Project Director at the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). She brings her background in federal and state grant administration and public health non-profit management to lead the CDC Healthy Schools and CDC Arthritis cooperative agreements. She has contributed to various CDC funded field resources for school health educators, and co-authored literature in areas of opioid addiction, school health, and childhood obesity to inform health policy and practice.

James Mallare, CHES

Research Coordinator

Wayne State University

James Mallare is a doctoral candidate at Wayne State University in the Division of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies with a concentration in Community Health and School Health and carries out his role in various health settings. He has assisted in research initiatives that cover experiences across the life span from childhood and adolescent nutrition to cognition and physical activity in the older adult population. His areas of interest are in nutrition and chronic disease in low socio-economic populations and the professional preparation of community and school health educators at institutions for higher education. A native Canadian, he is constantly looking for connections and opportunities to collaborate internationally on matters of education and betterment of health systems.


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0.75 Entry CECH/CPH CE Credit credits  |  No certificate available
0.75 Entry CECH/CPH CE Credit credits  |  No certificate available