The CNMI’s presentation on diet-related diseases in the Marianas secured first place in the semi-finals of the University of Oxford’s “Map the System” competition.
The competition is a global initiative of the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford and features higher education institutions coming together to discuss social and environmental changes. The global final is set for June 2022.
Team CNMI consisted of Kaitlyn Neises-Mocanu, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. special assistant for policy, sustainability, and development; Erin Camacho, dietician for the Public School System’s Food and Nutrition Program; Reina Camacho, acting manager of administrative services and general support of the Division of Customs Biosecurity; public health evaluation specialist Chloe Wingerter, a graduate student at the University of Oxford; and Patty Coleman, interim dean of Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services.
Neises-Mocanu and Wingerter presented in person at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England while the rest of the CNMI team joined virtually.
They presented a food systems map that identified “complex systemic causes” of the prevalence of high-risk diets (processed foods, sugary drinks) in the CNMI, and how the indigenous people of the Marianas have some of the highest rates of diet-related diseases in the world. The presentation included key informant interviews, insights from native cultural practitioners and the private sector, producers, and a report of the dynamics of the CNMI’s food system at macro and micro economic levels.
Reina Camacho (right), acting manager of administrative services and general support of the Division of Customs Biosecurity, Erin Camacho (left), dietician for the Public School System’s Food and Nutrition Program, and Patty Coleman (center), interim dean of Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services, explain the dynamics of the food systems map that they created to NMC students and faculty. The team was selected as one of the global finalists in the "Map the System" competition hosted by the University of Oxford. Not pictured is team captain Kaitlyn Neises-Mocanu from CHCC and Chloe Wingerter who played a key role in creating the systems map and report.
Team CNMI also discussed current efforts to reduce diet-related diseases and recommendations to improve public health. They competed against five other teams.
A judge from the University of Oxford-Saïd Business School said the CNMI’s “systems map was very comprehensive and interconnections were clearly illustrated.”
The team was also commended for the quality of the presentation’s digital recording which was created by NMC media specialists Michaela Gatdula and Casey Huliganga.
“The CNMI team’s success belongs to our stakeholders in this work,” team captain Kaitlyn Neises-Mocanu said. “I’m hopeful this conversation will extend beyond the competition, and inform a comprehensive strategy to overhaul the CNMI’s food systems.”
Team CNMI also thanks the farmers, ranchers, business owners, policy makers, cultural practitioners and everyone who were interviewed for the research. According to Neises-Mocanu, they all provided “tremendous insights and understanding” of the CNMI’s food system.
From left, public health evaluation specialist Chloe Wingerter and Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. special assistant for policy, sustainability, and development Kaitlyn Neises-Mocanu represent the CNMI at the "Map the System" competition held at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Joining them virtually was Reina Camacho, acting manager of administrative services and general support of the Division of Customs Biosecurity, Erin Camacho, dietician for the Public School System’s Food and Nutrition Program, and Patty Coleman, interim dean of Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services. The team secured first place in the semi finals.
“It’s the utility of our food systems map that was the main reason I agreed to join the team,” said Patty Coleman of NMC-CREES. “We are using our findings and recommendations from the competition to help inform our current NMC-CREES work in nutrition security and systems science. And, it’s a pleasure to work with Kaitlyn, Chloe, Reina, and Erin as they are truly committed to enhancing health and wellness through collaborative, multi-sector approaches.”
Coleman currently serves as the CNMI’s lead researcher on a food systems/systems science program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program uses statistical modeling and community-based participatory research to gain better insights into the CNMI food system and come up with potential solutions to enhance human nutrition.
Team CNMI will compete in the global final against other teams from other countries and universities in June 2022. The University of Oxford will host the final event.