VOICE Project: Valuing Our Individual Cultures through Engagement

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Community members share stories and share knowledge about their lived experiences for a deeper understanding about food and healthy weight; making engagement more meaningful.

Watch the VOICE video here!


Project Description

The VOICE Project (Valuing Our Individual Cultures through Engagement) uses storytelling and story-based dialogues to engage community members from various cultural backgrounds to share their insight about how culture is connected to food, healthy weight, and body size.

Between June 2011 and January 2012, the Minneapolis Department of Health convened and video-recorded a series of VOICE dialogues with members from the American Indian, African American, Latino, Hmong, and Somali communities. Community-based organizations and community leaders hosted the events and served a cultural meal at each event. VOICE used asset-based inquiry questions related to:.

Accomplishments and Results

The VOICE Project created a space for the community voice to be heard. Over 100 community members, across five different cultural groups, participated in VOICE. These story-based dialogues were recorded, translated, and transcribed. Analysis was completed in the summer of 2012 and seven themes emerged across cultural groups. These VOICE Themes will inform Healthy Living work moving forward.

VOICE Themes

  1. Cultural foods are connected to feelings and memories
  2. Family-friendly spaces and social connections make exercise easier
  3. Good eating habits are shaped by mealtime
  4. Cooking together and sharing knowledge increases awareness about healthier food options
  5. Close food should be good food *Food that is close by should be good food
  6. Eating habits and food choices should be talked about and can spark change
  7. Cultural foods once associated with sustenance and healing may harm health today

There is tremendous power in sharing stories and talking that can lead to healthier behaviors. The impact of VOICE has been multi-faceted. For example, some VOICE participants have adopted healthier behaviors related to food choices and cooking. Also, a 2011 Food Day event was organized by a group of African American VOICE participants and United Methodist church members. Over 40 community members came together to discuss food and culture, and learned about local church-based community gardens.

Through stronger partnerships and increased resident engagement, Minneapolis' public health work aims to be more inclusive and meaningful to cultural communities. The health department has already integrated some VOICE Themes into its Healthy Living initiatives by:

Going forward, the health department plans to use the VOICE Videos as a tool to further engage various communities around food-related dialogues and apply the story sharing method to other public health topics.




Minneapolis Health Department LogoShould you require a reasonable accommodation in order to fully participate, or information in an alternative format, please contact 612-673-2301.
Para asistencia 612-673-2700 - Rau kev pab 612-673-2800 - Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.

Last updated Oct 23, 2018



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Para asistencia 612-673-2700, Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-637-2800, Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500. 

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