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UTEP Students to Tackle Health Concern at Annual Workshop

Interdisciplinary student teams from The University of Texas at El Paso will develop innovative policies or programs that could put more fruits and vegetables in the hands of El Paso County families during the 4th annual Mike Loya Grand Challenge Workshop Sept. 23-24, 2016, at UTEP.

The Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living, which promotes healthy eating and active living solutions in the El Paso region, will issue the challenge. UTEP’s Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce organized the workshop.

The event begins with a presentation by Leah Whigham, Ph.D., executive director of the institute, at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, in UTEP’s Business Administration Building, Room 318. Student teams will retreat to the Texas Gas Service Student Center on the first floor to discuss and analyze the situation until late into the night.

Six mentors who are familiar with the issue will assist the teams and act as sounding boards for ideas.

According to the Institute for Healthy Living, less than 25 percent of Americans, and even fewer Paso del Norte residents, eat a nutritionally adequate, high-quality diet that includes the recommended amount of at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

This could lead to increased risk of heart disease, Type-2 diabetes and some cancers. On a related note, an estimated 11 percent of El Paso County residents deal with “food insecurity,” or an uncertainty of enough food for a healthy lifestyle.

The teams will reconvene at 7 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, in the Business Administration Building to expand on their ideas. They will make their final presentations to Whigham and a panel of experts at 3 p.m. that afternoon in Room 312.

The goal of the workshop is to enable interdisciplinary groups of students to tackle real-world issues while dealing with real-world constraints just as they will have to do as professionals, said Aaron Cervantes, the Loya Center’s director of operations.

“We look forward to the creative, outside-the-box ideas from these student groups,” Cervantes said.

Student registration forms may be found at loyacenter.utep.edu

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