Current Leader

Leslie Hoglund

Leslie Hoglund
Location: Yorktown, Virginia Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Built Environment/Housing/Planning, Business/Private Sector, Community/Civic Engagement, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Economic Stability, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Food Systems and Nutrition, Maternal and Infant Health, Obesity, Public Policy, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice, Social Sector/Non-Profit Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children (6-11 years), Children and Families, Low-Income Communities, Migrant Workers, Military/Veterans, Older Adults (65+), People with Disabilities, Young Children (0-5 years)
Assistant Professor
Old Dominion University

All across our country, life expectancy differences exist among populations within a few miles. Dr. Leslie Hoglund wants to effectively end food apartheid in America. Food apartheid takes into account racism, income, ableism, geography, and other factors when looking at ways to end inequity and discrimination in local food systems. It recognizes that the systems in place are what make it difficult for people living in low-income areas to access fresh, healthy food and experience less chronic disease and conditions. Past and present political and social influences determine food access and control by design and default. And, we can change this with a vision for a Culture of Health that ensures every community is food secure. A food-secure community means that every household has resources afforded to them like other parts of the locality. What is good for one end of the county is good for the other end too. How food security is attained in each community may look very different, and that is OK. Redesigning local food-source systems has to be a tailored approach, especially to correct and right-size resources. Success in achieving this vision for building a Culture of Health is based on five key actions:

  1. Being data-informed – We ground the data in real-life context.
  2. Relying on collective impact – We advocate for what works to improve outcomes.
  3. Supporting robust community dialogue – We listen and hear what the community is saying.
  4. Creating engaged civic leadership – We give ownership for organization and mobilization.
  5. Dismantling systemic racism – We redesign our systems of food proximity, affordability, and availability that work for the community. Ending food apartheid means we break the hierarchy of skin color and systems. We do this by leading change to cultivate a Culture of Health with sustainability around food sources, specifically on:
    • food proximity – a geographically-defined area in which good-quality fresh food is easily bough
    • food availability – all people have consistent quantities of food
    • food affordability – having enough money to buy healthy food

A modified Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (or CASPER) method is a rapid needs assessment and epidemiologic technique designed to provide us with household-based information to facilitate planning and initiate action. The interview questionnaire consists of five sections: demographics, food attitudes and behaviors, shopping preferences, health behavior and outcomes, and community needs. We must think differently about the community system of food sourcing because we have to: Areas identified as food deserts are a public health emergency and should be treated as such, especially because they were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding a new grocery store to a neighborhood is not enough to motivate individuals to shop for healthier foods; it never will be. When we aim for equity, we ensure the right system of food sourcing and networks that meets the community’s needs.


Dr. Leslie Hoglund is a leader who values service to others to establish vision and design health-promoting environments and policies. As a public health educator, researcher, and social change advocate, Leslie has dedicated her career to inspiring individuals, communities, and organizations to succeed through data-informed, evidence-based policy, system, and environmental strategies that improve quality of life. She is a leader who takes action and collaborates with those who seek solutions for improvement. Leslie is passionate about public health practice, and promoting population and social health conditions and factors to reduce and prevent the burden of disease.





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