LeAnne Campbell, PhD. was recently appointed president of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (CNS). Her father, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, coauthor of the NYTimes best-selling book, The China Study, founded the center. He is widely known for its popular Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate, offered in partnership with eCornell. To add to this offering, CNS has recently launched a new Food and Sustainability Certificate. Through science-based education, CNS is committed to increasing awareness of the relationship between food, the health of our bodies, our communities, and the planet.
Returning to Her Roots
LeAnne earned BS and MS degrees in Human Service Studies at Cornell University and a PhD in Curriculum Studies from UNC Chapel Hill. Over a decades-long journey, LeAnne has accumulated a wealth of knowledge, through education and community work, that promotes the growth of vibrant, healthy and inclusive communities. Now she is returning to her roots to share what she’s learned. She is perfectly poised to spearhead the development of new community-based initiatives.
Early Work in Nutrition Education, Health and Gardening
About 30 years ago, LeAnne volunteered in a Peace Corps program based in the Dominican Republic. She focused on rehabilitating malnourished children. She witnessed the power of education, community health work and community gardening.
Return to Dominican Republic
Decades later she returned to the mountains of La Cumbre, Dominican Republic, where she currently lives. When she arrived, she saw the devastating effects caused by deforestation due, in large part, to the creation of pasture land for cattle. She found it mind-boggling that in such a relatively short period of time, the soil had become arid and lifeless.
Since then, she has seen first-hand that soil is a living organism and can be brought back to life. Through careful tending and an abundance of mulching and nourishing, she and others have been able to restore the soil to good health and productivity. In fact, she now lives almost 100% off of her land. She grows most of her own food. What she doesn’t grow (brown rice, for example), she purchases from others in the town who do.
Healing Power of Diet
Much as LeAnne witnessed restoration of her land, she has seen the healing power of diet in her community. In one activity she invites people to join mini jump start programs where she immerses them in a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle.
The results of these programs have been remarkable. For instance, a neighbor in her town had advanced diabetes and was in and out of the hospital frequently. Her son attended one of LeAnne’s sessions. He listened to the message and witnessed the positive impact it was having on the participants’ health. He shared what he learned with his mother and encouraged her to attend.
LeAnne explained, “She attended with a small group of people, each pretty sick with a diet related illness. I talked to them about food, it’s impact on one’s health and food preparation.” A couple of people adopted this lifestyle and stayed with it. She was one of them. “She took it very seriously. Now she’s one hundred percent whole food, plant-based, and she’s cured herself of diabetes. She no longer takes medication and she’s lost a lot of weight.” She’s become a committed advocate “telling everyone how healthy she became eating this way”. It just so happens that she’s a village health worker – actually a supervisor of village health workers. She now promotes healthy eating. The seed was planted and she’s gone on to plant many more.
Microgrant Initiative at CNS
The primary goal for CNS, up until recently, was to reach as large an audience as possible through their certificate programs and free plant-based resources on their website. As its new president, LeAnne is perfectly poised to develop a new service initiative. Initially, CNS will offer micro-grants focused on three main areas: 1) community education and food literacy 2) access to healthy, affordable food and 3) sustainable and equitable food systems. Recipients of the grants will be awarded between $500-$5000 to fund start-ups or expand existing initiatives.
WFPB Diet for Healthy Bodies and Ecosystem
LeAnne says “We know a whole food, plant-based diet can help heal our bodies. When combined with a sustainable food system, it can also help heal our ecosystems. It’s a win-win situation that’s not only exciting but transformative.” The experience LeAnne brings to CNS, and the work she is spearheading is so important for society. And if we consider the environmental implications of our food, it will have impact for future generations.
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