The Helderleigh Foundation Funds Professorship in Food Literacy at the University of Guelph

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2020

The College of Social and Applied Human Sciences at the University of Guelph has received philanthropic support from the Helderleigh Foundation to create the College's first named Professorship. This aligns with the Foundation's funding to promote food literacy and help raise a healthier generation less prone to chronic disease.

The new Helderleigh Foundation Professorship in Food Literacy will work with the Guelph Family Health Study team to lead development of a productive, collaborative research program that addresses key research gaps related to food literacy.

The Helderleigh Foundation, an organization advocating food literacy among Canadian children and families, has been a strategic partner of the Guelph Family Health Study providing connection and direction for nutrition research and knowledge mobilization.

"Food literacy is a critical skill, and research that identifies ways to enhance that skill is critical to both individual and community well-being. We live in a society in which food insecurity is a serious problem, and it impacts people's health and well-being in so many ways. This Professorship supported by the Helderleigh Foundation, will allow the Guelph Family Health Study, under the leadership of Dr. Jess Haines and Dr. David Ma, to both continue and to expand their important work."
— Byron Sheldrick, Acting Dean, College of Social and Applied Human Sciences
Dr. David Ma and Dr. Jess Haines are co-directors of the Guelph Family Health Study.
 

The search to fill the professorship started this past summer. Dr. Jess Haines, Co-Director of the Guelph Family Health Study, accepted the position this fall.

"Jess is an exceptional scholar in all three areas – research, teaching and service. This is clearly demonstrated by her work with the Guelph Family Health Study. We are absolutely thrilled that she will be continuing in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition with the new appointment of Helderleigh Foundation Professorship in Food Literacy," said Dr. John Beaton, chair, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition.

Haines received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota and has held leadership positions with University of Minnesota, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Guelph. Dr. Haines was honoured with the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science Early Researcher award in 2014, the Canada Institutes for Health Research New Investigator Award in 2015, and was named to the Royal Society College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in 2020. Her research has focused on reducing the burden of chronic disease by bridging epidemiologic and qualitative research on the determinants of child health behaviour with effective and scalable family-based behaviour change interventions.

Dr. Jess Haines holds the Helderleigh Foundation Professorship in Food Literacy.

"I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to focus our research on developing and testing strategies that empower children and families to plan, manage, prepare and enjoy healthy foods that support their health and wellbeing. Food literacy is a key factor influencing diet quality and this funding will allow us to identify best practices for family-based approaches to improving food literacy among children and their families," said Dr. Haines.

Started in 2014, the Guelph Family Health Study uses evidence-based knowledge to develop health strategies for families with young children. Study team members visit participating families to help set realistic goals for healthful diet, exercise, sleep habits, screen time and meal routines.

The Helderleigh Foundation also provides funding support to the Guelph Family Health Study and three Helderleigh Foundation Family Food Literacy Graduate Scholarships at the University of Guelph.

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