Core D | Community Engagement

Lisa Gaetke

Lisa Gaetke (Core Leader)
Lindell Ormsbee
Dawn Brewster


Since 2000, the UK-SRC Community Engagement Core (CEC) has provided support and guidance through critical information on nutrition and health-related issues to meet the needs of individuals and communities affected by environmental contaminants. This purpose is underscored through the title of its programs, Superfund Community Action through Nutrition (SCAN).

During previous funding, the CEC established a close collaboration with a community group in Kentucky, and SCAN programs, endorsed by this community group, provided a new service resource for nutrition and scientific information.

The goal of the CEC is to empower affected individuals and communities to take proactive steps toward their own health by drawing on the strength of the nutrition-related research from UK’s SRC. The specific aims of the CEC are:

1. further develop and present SCAN nutrition and environmental health education programs for a new third site in central Kentucky and the previously established community constituents;

2. further define the CEC’s nutrition education message and enhanced recommendations that diets low in fat and high in phytonutrients and fiber may reduce the toxicity of PCBs and related compounds as reported by UK’s SRP's biomedical researchers;

3. develop new, tangible qualitative outcome measures of SCAN programs as to improved knowledge and attitudes of health risks associated with exposure to environmental contaminants and the influence of nutrition on these risks with consideration of sensitive issues, such as community characteristics and pending litigation that may impede quantitative measures; and

4. further establish trust with identified community constituents in order to provide advanced SCAN programs, which show changes in nutrition and health-related behaviors and improved nutritional status.

Results of SCAN programs will be used to design new nutrition education and diet strategies for individuals, families, and communities to enable them to optimize their health in the face of exposure to Superfund contaminants.



Environmental Pollutants and Nutrition Nuts and Seeds
Hazardous Chemicals and Your Body: Eating Right for a Healthier You (CES Booklet)
Hazardous Chemicals and Your Body: Eating Right for a Healthier You (CES Technical Document)
Superfund Booklet
Utilizing the Strengths of a Land-Grant Institution: The University of Kentucky SBRP and Cooperative Extension Service Working Together for Increased Stakeholder Engagement(PowerPoint Slideshow)
Fruit and Vegetable Tips
What's on Your Plate
Spice Up Your Immune System




Henry County, KY Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
“train the trainer” approach for the community


Holiday Cooking School in London Kentucky, Fall 2012

The broader regional community (south central and southeast counties of KY) requested UK-SRC’s Community Engagement Core’s help on a Holiday Cooking School in London, KY.  The CEC developed a nutrition program, which included a chef and a cooking demonstration on the use of olive oil. Olive oil is being studied by UK-SRC researchers for its role in lowering LDL cholesterol and providing beneficial phytochemicals. Three UK-SRC’s trainees passed out samples and commented on the positive experience of talking about science outside of the laboratory to the people most affected by environmental issues. About 200 participants were actively engaged with tasting samples and shared questions and comments on the health benefits of olive oil. Feedback from participants at this site are very positive based on requests for more nutrition help to improve health and personal interactions developed over time (personal thank you messages, participation in this event because CEC personnel were included and the event was at night and out of town).



Alison Thurow, a graduate student with the Community Engagement Core, helps explain the health benefits of olive oil with Chef JC Clark from Lexington, KY to about 200 community members.


Li Xiao, Sebastian Hernandez, and Minghui Gui from Dibakar Bhattacharyya’s Project  (Chloro-Organic Degradation), joined in the presentation of foods and responded to questions.  Minghui said, “I'm very glad to participate in this event and do something for our community as a UK-SRC trainee.”


For more information on CEC programs, or to schedule a UK-SRC Community Engagement representative to speak at your event, contact Lisa Gaetke at 859-257-3800.