Project Location: Yukon Kuskokwim Delta
Category: Nutrition, Health Promotion
Investigator: Andrea Bersamin
The health of Alaska Native people is inextricably tied to their traditional food system. Degradation of the food system over the past several decades due to changes in climate and socioeconomic pressures, however, has resulted in a shift in dietary patterns and contributed to growing health disparities. Together with our community partners, we designed and evaluated a school-based intervention, known as the Fish-to-School program or Neqa Elicarvigmun, that aimed to strengthen the traditional food system in rural, remote Yup’ik communities. This multilevel intervention promoted the individual, community, and environmental benefits of a traditional diet. The program involved sourcing salmon from the local fish processor to be served in the school cafeteria. Place-based, interactive lessons about the food system and the importance of local traditional foods were developed and taught in the classroom. Inter-generational community events celebrated the role of salmon in promoting health and wellness. We used a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact of the program on diet quality, fish intake, and attitudes and beliefs towards traditional foods among middle and high school students in Yup’ik communities.