Don't Feed the Animals

I visited the San Antonio Zoo in the middle of my 8 mile run at ASHA two weeks ago. I was there for about 2 hours walking around and noticed signs posted all over the place warning humans not to feed the animals. The signs explained that the animals were on a special diet that keeps them healthy. Our human food is not included in that special diet.

As I meandered through the Zoo, I noticed something. Maybe humorous? Maybe just sad. The only food options for humans are incredibly non- nutrient rich foods. So, zoos are all about feeding the animals nutrient-rich foods, why not us?

As I ponder things that seem ridiculous to me (like a Zoo as food desert), I consider all the projects and work I've done in the past 6 years that have been unique. Somehow pushing the limits of what might have been done before. Or, something new to that organization.

One of the most unique projects I worked on was the Congregational Health Index, or CHI. I am a School Health Index (SHI) trainer for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Adolescent and School Health and my knowledge and understanding of the SHI brought me to work with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO), an organization that received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to develop a tool that addressed the physical activity and nutrition opportunities/issues within the faith community and environment. The Congregational Health Index (CHI) is a self-assessment tool and planning guide that enables Faith Organizations to:
• Identify the strengths and weaknesses of their congregation’s facilities, policies, and practices for promoting health;
• Develop an action plan for improving their congregation’s facilities, policies, and practices, and;
• Involve their faith community in implementing this improvement plan.

To see the CHI, email me at

I'm more than happy to share it.

Another unique opportunity was working with Nebraska Department of Education and Department of Health. Julane Hill at DOE and Brian Coyle at DOH asked me to come and facilitate their Coordinated School Health Institute with school teams. I told them I'd rather build their capacity versus traveling to NE 6 times a school year! I trained their CSH team over 4 days. Materials included two 3" binders on the CSH process, which built their capacity to facilitate 6 full days of CSH Institutes for a school teams' first year. Three years later? Julane and Brian are running the show! If you'd like to see my agenda for that 4-day CSH TOT, I'd love to share it. Send me an email at