Current Leader

Leslie Hoglund

Leslie Hoglund
Location: Yorktown, Virginia Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Economic Stability, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Food Systems and Nutrition, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), Adults (21-64 years), Children (6-11 years), Low-Income Communities, Older Adults (65+), Young Children (0-5 years)
Clinical Assistant Professor
Old Dominion University

The life expectancy of Lackey, VA is 75.5 years; three miles down the road in the same county, the life expectancy is 83 years – a difference of 8 years. Low and very low food security is 22%, three times that of the rest of the county at 7%. Dr. Leslie Hoglund wants to effectively end food apartheid in America, whereby racism, income, ableism, geography, and other factors impact where and how families can obtain food. It recognizes that the systems in place are what make it difficult for people living in low-income areas to access fresh, healthy food which directly affects the rate of chronic disease – hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol – in the community. The historical legacy of displacement, redlining, and where resources are placed determine food access by design and default.

As a resident of York County who now lives two miles from Lackey, Leslie seeks a Culture of Health by ensuring that every part of the community is food secure. This means they have proximate, affordable, and available food sources like other parts of the locality. How food security is attained in each community may look very different, and that is okay. Redesigning local food-source systems has to be a tailored approach, especially to correct and right-size the needed resources. Success in achieving this vision requires grounding the data in real-life, advocating for what works, listening generously to what the community is saying, sharing ownership for action, and equitably redesigning our food systems to dismantle systemic racism.

I am Dr. Leslie Hoglund, the founder and principal consultant of Generate More Health (GMH), LLC. Our upstart enterprise is dedicated to utilizing salutogenesis—the creation and generation of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Our mission is to transform social, economic, and environmental systems and policies, envisioning a reality centered around food security and health opportunities. At GMH, we are committed to leading communities and partnering with local governments, health departments, and community-based organizations. Through a data-informed approach, we focus on establishing collective impact, facilitating community dialogue, advocating civic leadership, and championing antiracism. Our goal is to assess, train, guide, and evaluate communities and populations, fostering a health-creating and health-generating culture. This culture is specifically tailored to address food attitudes and behaviors, shopping preferences and needs, health status outcomes, and desired community food assets. I firmly believe that salutogenesis is the key mechanism for generating more health, particularly in communities facing chronic discrimination and lower life expectancies. In the U.S., where there are over 6,500 USDA-designated food deserts, GMH’s primary initiative is to transform these areas into food-secure communities.

Dr. Leslie Hoglund, an assistant professor at Old Dominion University, grew up in York County and went to school with families in Lackey. She returned with her own family 17 years later and noticed the lack of progress in the area. Living in an area with little to no food sources was disturbing, considering the growth and investment in other parts of the county. Using her researcher’s mind, Leslie saw the need to address the lack of access and proximity to food sources in Lackey because food is a human right. Whole communities cannot be solely dependent on charitable food networks. Leslie is building a Culture of Health by giving neighbors the mic and equipping leaders to respond so that the redesigned local food system ensures food security for everyone. Dr. Hoglund established the Lynchburg Area Food Council in 2012, currently co-leads the start-up of the Norfolk Food Policy Council, and serves as the chair of the Virginia Breastfeeding Advisory Committee.

Click here to watch Leslie’s Legacy Project video.