Miranda Klugesherz has joined KC Healthy Kids as director of Kansas Alliance for Wellness, a network of food, farm and policy councils across the state.
Miranda comes to us from The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, based in the Washington DC area. There, she managed and directed significant community-based research initiatives in communities across the US and abroad. Miranda holds an MS in health and social policy from University College Cork-Ireland and an MA in communications and public engagement from Kansas State University. As Kansas’ first US-Ireland Alliance Mitchell Scholar, her research focused on SNAP policy and local responses to food insecurity.
While at K State, Miranda worked for the Center for Engagement and Community Development, chaired the Junction City Food Policy Council and co-founded Live Well Geary County. She draws upon these firsthand experiences as she supports Kansas councils in leading community-driven food systems change.
“I’m thrilled to be part of a team of brilliant people with the knowledge and drive necessary to create sustainable change at the local and state levels. I’m honored to put my experience with coalitions and local food systems to work here at KC Healthy Kids in order to create a more healthy and equitable Kansas,” Miranda says.
Klugesherz and the team at KC Healthy Kids will work with Kansas Alliance for Wellness partner councils to develop statewide policy solutions that increase access to healthy and affordable food – including advocating to reduce or eliminate the Kansas sales tax on groceries.
In addition, Klugesherz will support councils in identifying and addressing local priorities, such as promoting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Women Infants and Children (WIC) acceptance and Double Up Food Bucks usage at participating farmers markets and food service providers.
Kansas Health Foundation is awarding $750,000 to KC Healthy Kids to help establish local, regional and state food policy councils to further improve access and consumption of healthy food and beverages across the state.
From January 2020 through December 2022, KC Healthy Kids will enhance the work of the Kansas Alliance for Wellness and existing food, farm and policy councils, while also helping to develop new councils across Kansas. Its work will include providing food policy technical assistance and training, assessing the status and effectiveness of the councils and implementing communications strategies.
“Through monitoring and advocating for improved food policy, we can strengthen the Kansas food system and drive change to increase access to healthy foods,” said Reggie Robinson, Kansas Health Foundation president and CEO. “We look forward to seeing the impact of this work.”
Several health indicators drive these efforts. Approximately 1 in 8 Kansans struggle with hunger, as do 1 in 5 Kansas children, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2019. Kansas has the 12th highest adult obesity rate in the nation at 34.4 percent, according to the State of Childhood Obesity report. And, the 2017-2018 National Survey of Children’s Health indicates nearly 29 percent of Kansas youth age 10 to 17 are overweight or obese.
Food policy impacts how food is produced, processed, distributed, purchased, consumed, protected and disposed, according to information from the Committee on World Food Security. This is why monitoring and advocating for food policy change is so critical to the health of Kansans.