Nebraska Extension recognized in HealthyCommunity50 Challenge


September 20, 2016

Lincoln, Neb. — The Choose Healthy Here - Healthy Food Retail Program in Dodge, Saunders and Washington counties in Nebraska has been recognized in the HealthyCommunity50 Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge to receive a $10,000 community seed award. By participating in the Challenge, the Nebraska Extension office in Dodge County is in the running to receive a prize that will support its local program.

The Challenge, a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, launched in April during National Public Health Week. The Challenge will award $1.5 million in prizes to small and mid-sized cities, counties and federally-recognized tribes that are able to show measurable change over the course of several years working with cross-sector partnerships to implement health innovations and data-driven solutions. Hundreds of city governments, local municipalities, health departments, educational institutions and other public/private entities applied to be a part of the Challenge.

“At the Aetna Foundation, we’re seeking to reward innovation for communities implementing new ways to improve health outcomes,” said Dr. Garth Graham, president of the Aetna Foundation. “We want the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge to serve as a catalyst for collaboration in local communities around the country working to move the needle in combating health disparities.”

The HealthyCommunity50 were chosen based on plans to improve the health of their communities in at least one of five domains: healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment, social/economic factors and environmental exposures.

“I feel so honored to help facilitate better access for low income families to convenient, affordable, and healthful food options in the district counties of Dodge, Saunders and Washington,” said Katherine Kneifl, an extension assistant who works with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed). “I recognize the challenges and barriers of low income populations to access healthy, affordable choices in rural food deserts where public transportation options are limited.”

Through the Challenge, Kneifl was charged with gathering data from the Three Rivers District Health Department to help with a needs assessment that aligned with nutrition- and diet-related priority areas. She then developed a proposal and applied for a seed grant of $10,000 through this Challenge. Kneifl has been working with extension faculty on campus to devise strategies to address healthy retail options.      

“Three Rivers Public Health Department is excited to partner with Nebraska Extension to institute a community-based approach to increase demand and access to healthful food in the 3RPHD district,” said Terra Uhing, executive director of Three Rivers Public Health Department. 

All selected HealthyCommunity50 members will be visited by an expert judge panel to answer questions, understand the community’s approach to the project first-hand and speak with the members of the cross-sector team and key stakeholders. At the conclusion of the Challenge, the programs most able to show measurable change will be eligible for prize awards from $25,000 - $500,000. Participants will be judged on their own progress and will not be competing against each other. For more information, visit

Kathy Kneifl
SNAP Extension Assistant
Nebraska Extension

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