Core D: Community Engagement Core

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) partners with individuals and communities in proximity to or otherwise affected by hazardous waste sites and environmental pollutants and with more specialized local groups such as community action and service groups in such locations. Key partnerships with the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service (KY-CES) agents, health care professional groups such as physicians, nurses, and dietitians including those at county and district health departments, and EPA and ATSDR personnel help facilitate community-based participatory processes. The CEC’s programs and activities are designed to meet the community’s needs and are evaluated by measuring outcomes that demonstrate community sustainability and improved knowledge, attitudes, and health behaviors focused on reducing health risks associated with exposure to Superfund environmental pollutants. The aim of the CEC is to empower affected individuals and communities to take proactive steps in regard to their own health by drawing on the strength and findings of the nutrition-related research of the overall program and on the nutritional and scientific expertise within UK-SRC.


The UK-SRC Community Engagement Core seeks to:

  • To establish trust with and assess the needs of affected communities with consideration of sensitive issues;
  • To engage individuals, communities, health professionals, trusted community leaders, KY-CES agents, EPA and ATSDR personnel, and other partners to work together through multi-directional exchanges to guarantee effective communication and to build capacity;
  • To inform and translate the research information from UK-SRC researchers through community-requested activities across the lifespan and promote systems and environmental changes to maximize reach and impact;
  • To provide community feedback to UK-SRC’s researchers to develop safe, evidenced-based nutrition and environmental strategies that reduce the toxicity of PCB’s and related compounds.

Publications, Posters, and Presentations

Educational Handouts and Research Briefs





Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Science’s agent training consumer leaders


Partner with Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Science

  • 8-lesson curriculum: “Body Balance: Protect Your Body from Pollution with a Healthy Lifestyle,” was developed by a CEC trainee and presented by FCS Extension Agents to Kentuckians throughout the state. 

Engaging with vulnerable older adult population attending senior centers that focused on increasing fruit and vegetable intake.


Engage with Vulnerable Older Adults Attending Senior Centers for Community Intervention Project

  • 5-lesson curriculum, “Color Your Plate,” was developed by dietetics graduate students and designed to be presented to older adults attending senior centers in Central Kentucky. Participants learn how to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in an affordable manner. Presenters emphasize the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to obtain a variety of phytonutrients to benefit health.
  • Present lessons on pollution and phytonutrients as part of Plate it Up Kentucky Proud recipe demonstrations.

The blackberry project


Blackberry Project

  • Leverage the activities of Cooperative Extension to create a sustainable system of providing blackberries to specific community groups. 
  • Raise awareness of the benefits of phytonutrients for impacted communities.
  • Increase access of vulnerable populations to phytochemical-rich blackberries.
  • Engage individuals across a range of ages to participate in the project (K-12 and senior centers)

For more information visit the BerryCare Program page.

Chef responding to requests from an exposed community on new ways to include vegetables in meals


Provide Nutrition Education and Recipe Demonstrations to Community Members in Eastern Kentucky

  • Provide nutrition lessons to educate community members about the health benefits of phytonutrients and their role in mitigating the negative health effects of environmental pollution.
  • Coordinate with Healthy Eating Advisory Council and with local community members.
  • Continue to respond to community requests for healthy food demonstrations.

Chef responding to requests from an exposed community on new ways to include vegetables in meals

Promote Physical Activity and Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Eastern Kentucky
  • Provide structure and support to a community-driven fresh foods walking program. Participants receive $10 to spend on fruits and vegetables at their local farmer's market every Saturday that they walk the approximately 1 mile to the market. 

For more information, visit the Tanglewood Trail Walking Program page. 

Chef responding to requests from an exposed community on new ways to include vegetables in meals


Support our Community Partners

  • Support our community partners by providing food samples full of colorful fruits and vegetables, recipe and phytonutrient cards, and educational handouts that include information about the relationship between good nutrition and decreasing the negative effects of environmental pollution to FARMACYTM program participants in Whitesburg, KY. The FARMACYTM program prescribes local fruits and vegetables to qualifying Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC) patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or patients who are pregnant. 

For more information on CEC programs, or to schedule a UK-SRC Community Engagement Core representative to speak at your event, contact Dawn Brewer at 859-257-1661.



Dawn Brewer
(Core Leader)

Kelly Pennell

Ann Koempel
(Program Manager)