We collaboratively facilitate a range of research projects examining food environment-nutrition-health linkages towards co-producing evidence-based food system solutions that support healthy communities and planetary health.

Featured Community-Engagement Project

Advancing healthy and sustainable food environments: The Flathead Reservation case study

In response to the food and nutrition challenges experienced in indigenous communities in Montana, we have fostered a community partnership since 2012 to evaluate and improve food environments on the Flathead Nation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Our team comprises practitioners, researchers, food and nutrition stakeholders, policy-makers, and student trainees from the Flathead Nation. The overall goal of our community-based project is to inform tribal and national food programs, along with local enterprises, to improve access to foods that support sustainable diets that are affordable, convenient and desirable while empowering communities and food sovereignty. Sustainable diets are defined as healthy diets from sustainable food systems that advance the human condition and conserve ecological resources in socially acceptable ways (Ahmed and Byker Shanks, 2019). Our community-based project on the Flathead Nation involves:

  1. Characterizing the natural and built food environment and associated diets, food security status, and health outcomes,
  2. Implementing food and nutrition interventions to advance sustainable diets from local foods sourced from farms using agroecological methods with participants of food assistance programs, and
  3. Working with community members to design evidence-based solutions to affect policy change towards mitigating risk of food insecurity and lifestyle-related chronic disease in a health disparate population.

Read more about this collaborative food security project on the Flathead Nation in the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition 44th Nutrition Issue.

List of Related Publications:

Byker Shanks C, Ahmed S, Dupuis V, Tryon M, Running Crane M,* Houghtaling B,* Smith T. Dietary quality varies among adults on the Flathead Nation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana. Journal of Community Health. (In Press).

Smith E, Ahmed S, Dupuis V, Eggers M, Pierre M, Flagg K, Byker Shanks C. Contribution of wild foods to diets, food security, and cultural values amidst climate change. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. 2019.

Ahmed S, Byker Shanks C, Dupuis V, Pierre M. Advancing Healthy and Sustainable Food Environments: The Flathead Reservation Case Study. UNSCN Nutrition 44 (Food Environments: Where People Meet the Food System; United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition). 2019.

Ahmed S, Byker Shanks C. Supporting Sustainable Development Goals through Sustainable Diets. In: Filho, W.L. et al. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Good Health and Well-Being. Springer Nature. 2019.

Ahmed S, Byker Shanks C, Smith T, Shanks J. Fruit and vegetable desirability is lower in more rural built food environments of Montana, USA using the Produce Desirability (ProDes) Tool. Food Security. 2018.

Ahmed S, Byker Shanks C. Quality of vegetables based on total phenolic scores is lower in more rural counties of Montana. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2017.

Byker Shanks C, Smith T, Ahmed S, Hunts H. Assessing foods offered in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) using healthy eating index-2010. Public Health Nutrition. 2016;24:1-12.

Byker Shanks C, Ahmed S, Smith T, Houghtaling B, Jenkins M, Margetts M, Schultz D, Stephens L. Availability, price, and quality of fruits and vegetables in 12 rural Montana counties, 2014. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2015;12:150-158.

Our current funded research projects include the following:

Climate Effects on Tea Quality and Socio-Economic Responses (NSF CNH)Sustainable Socio-economic, Ecological, and Technological Scenarios for Achieving Global Climate Stabilization Through Negative CO2 Emission Policies (NSF EPSCoR)Examining, Optimizing, and Building Capacity for Montana's Local Beef to School Supply ChainClimate Effects On The Culture And Ecology Of Sugar Maple (USGS NE Climate Center)Montana Team Nutrition (USDA Team Nutrition)Building Long-Term Strategies for Student Involvement in Smarter Lunchroom Design (USDA BEN Center)

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