Our current research studies explore strategies related to increasing access to healthy foods for kids and families and the prevention and/or reduction of childhood obesity. For more information about our research please contact Emily English at esenglish@uams.edu.

Past research studies include the following:

Delta Garden Study - The Delta Garden Study (DGS) was a science-based school garden intervention designed to increase fruit and vegetable (FV) intakes and minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (PA), as well as to improve academic achievement, in middle school students in Arkansas. The study used a quasi-experimental, cross-sectional, nested, pair-matched design utilizing 6 intervention (garden) and 6 control (no garden) schools.

Arkansas Grow Healthy Study – Through the collaborative efforts of experts in agricultural economics, marketing, nutrition, education, psychology, and child development this project reached over 1,000 at-risk children and families with nutrition education and efforts to promote healthy, local foods. Over 80 teachers and 40 food service staff were trained in obesity prevention and nutrition promotion practices. This project resulted in over 70 publications and presentations to both scientific and community audiences. This project was supported from 2011-2016 by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68001-30014 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture under the program title “Childhood Obesity Prevention:  Integrated Research, Education, and Extension to Prevent Childhood Obesity”, program code A2101.

Health Impact Assessment - Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a structured process that informs decision-makers about the potential health impacts of an upcoming decision, particularly when health outcomes are not otherwise considered. 

Our Programs

AmeriCorps VISTA Positions

The Access to Healthy Foods Research Group at ACRI has two full-time AmeriCorps VISTA positions available.  Both positions will build capacity for their respective programs as well as the organization itself.  Read the position descriptions below for a complete list of the expectations and benefits.

Arkansas Farm to School Program Coordinator

Contact Us

For more information please contact Emily English at esenglish@uams.edu or 501-364-3390. 

Emily English, DrPH, MPS

Emily English, DrPH, MPS

Emily English is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She directs the Access to Healthy Foods Research Group at Arkansas Children's Research Institute. Emily received her Master of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service and her Master and Doctorate of Public Health from the College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Prior to graduate school, Emily worked on and managed small, organic farming operations in Arkansas and Oregon.

Cale Nicholson, MA

Cale Nicholson, MA

Cale Nicholson is a Program Manager in the Access to Healthy Foods Research Group at Arkansas Children's Research Institute. Cale received his BA in English from the University of Central Arkansas and his MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. Cale has developed and supported multiple teaching gardens across the state and southern region of the country, including the Community Supported Agriculture farm at the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas, the Teaching Garden and the OxfTeaching and Girls Club in Oxford, Mississippi, and the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

Jenna Rhodes, MA, MPS, MPH

Jenna Rhodes, MA, MPS, MPH

Jenna Rhodes is a Program Manager in the Access to Healthy Foods Research Group at Arkansas Children's Research Institute. She received 

a BS in Biology from Northwest Missouri State University. She later completed a concurrent degree program and received a Masters of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service, and a Masters of Public Health, Health Behavior and Health Education Concentration, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.  As a part of her graduate work, she performed qualitative data collection and analysis from school and community partners involved in several new Arkansas school gardens, as well as worked on economic development projects related to walkability and strengthening local community organizational capacity, including the creation and continued coordination of a diverse community coalition.

Senior Advisor

Judith Weber, Ph.D., RD

Judith Weber, Ph.D., RD

Dr. Weber is the Director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute and is a Professor of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a childhood obesity researcher with over 20 years of experience in obesity prevention, including energy balance, and dietary and physical activity assessment. She has a history of consistent funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for studies addressing individual and environmental risk factors for obesity and related chronic diseases, school-, worksite-, and community-based obesity prevention interventions, and methodological issues in dietary and physical activity assessment. Dr. Weber obtained her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences in 1994, and completed her postdoctoral training in Physiology in 1999, from the University of Arizona. She is also a Registered Dietitian. In her role as Lead Investigator, Dr. Weber is responsible for the direction of all aspects of the overall program

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The Access to Healthy Foods Research Group supports the work of multiple organizations and initiatives across the state and nation. Current partners include the following:

Arkansas Farm to School Collaborative

The Arkansas Farm to School Collaborative is a working group of state agencies, organizations, and individuals committed to reducing barriers and increasing participation in farm to school activities across the state.

Healthy Active Arkansas 

A team of people who represent a wide variety of organizations in the public and private sector, including government agencies, health care providers, and community organizations whose shared vision is to work with individuals, families, communities, worksites, organizations, and local and state governments to create a culture that encourages healthy eating and physical activity for all Arkansans. Dr. English co-leads the Access to Healthy Foods team.

Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention (ArCOP)

ArCOP’s mission is to improve the health of all Arkansas communities by increasing physical activity and healthy eating to reduce and prevent obesity. ArCOP’s goal is to increase the percentage of Arkansans of all ages who have access to healthy and affordable food and who engage in regular physical activity. Dr. English co-leads the Access to Healthy Foods team.

For more information or to join any of these efforts please contact Emily English at esenglish@uams.edu.

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