The Healthy Bodies Project is run by Dr. Lori Francis here at Penn State University. Our focus is to educate children and their families on healthy eating and movement. We provide schools and teachers with the curriculum and the tools they need to get kids excited about new and interesting fruits and vegetables! We also create materials and activities that advocate active play, and teach kids how important it is to get out and move every single day. Another aspect of our project is leading store tours with our participating classes and their families, and showing them how to shop healthy (on a budget)!
We are fortunate enough to have an awesome team of educators, research technicians, students, and food lovers working at Healthy Bodies. Although we all come from different backgrounds, our goal is one and the same: to help kids and their families lead healthier lives full of fun activity, and healthful, nutritious food.
Dr. Lori Francis is the head of the Healthy Bodies Project. She obtained her Ph.D. from Penn State in 2003. She is also the Associate Professor of Biobehavioral Health and Center for Family Research in Diverse Contexts. Dr. Francis is devoted to understanding why children eat what they eat, and different factors that influence children’s eating behaviors and healthy growth and development. She is particularly passionate about working with low-income families, and designing programs that increase opportunities for children and families to explore new and healthy foods and physical activities. In addition to her research and teaching at Penn State, she is committed to volunteering in the community for organizations like Centre Volunteers in Medicine. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 young boys, who keep her busy from “son up to son down!” Yes, pun intended.
Colleen Mortimer is a Penn State Alumni, and obtained her B.S. in Rehabilitation Education, and her Master’s in Early Childhood Education. She has been working in the Early Education field for over 30 years. Colleen began as a preschool teacher, and then was a director at a local childcare center for 14 years. Recently, she was employed for 16 years at the Bennett Child Care Center at Penn State, as a Supervising Teacher. Her passion has always been teaching young children, with a focus on nutrition and active play. Currently, Colleen is our Educational Liaison, and enjoys working with preschool classrooms, their parents, and the teachers. Her mission is to provide educational experiences to help improve food literacy and healthy habits. Colleen’s favorite foods include her husband’s homemade chili, and her Mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese! When she’s not working Colleen enjoys spending time with her family (especially her two grandsons), riding her Harley, and watching both the Steelers and Penn State football! She looks forward to the years ahead and to impacting the lives of many children and families.
Catie Simpson is our Nutrition Educator. She joined the Healthy Bodies project in the beginning of November 2017, and was previously an infant and toddler teacher at the Childcare Center at Hort Woods. She graduated from PSU in 2015 with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus on Early Childhood Development. Before Penn State, Catie went to the Culinary Institute of America, and heavily participated in her high school Career and Technical cooking program. She has been cooking since she was 13-years old! Catie has worked in restaurants, bakeries, on farms, and in the garden. With her passion for educating others about food, Catie works closely with Colleen to help implement the Healthy Bodies curriculum, and visits our schools on a regular basis to teach extended lessons. She coordinates our grocery store tours and family events, and helps organize parent outreach. Catie also manages our blog and Facebook page, and mentors our Penn State students. When she’s not at work Catie can usually be found in her kitchen experimenting with new recipes, or hiking in the PA wilds. Her favorite fruit is avocado, and she could eat potatoes for every meal!
Mikaela Kluver graduated from Penn State in August of 2017 with a B.S. in Biobehavioral Health and a minor in Bioethics. She is currently a Research Technician for the Healthy Bodies Project, where she has a variety of responsibilities including data collection, observations, and the creation of curriculum materials. She also tags along on classroom visits whenever Colleen and Catie need and extra hand. Mikaela loves to read and play with her kitties Maverick and Goose. Her favorite fruit is mango!
Shannon Walsh recently moved from her home in the Lehigh Valley to Happy Valley, and she is excited to start her journey here at Penn State! She graduated from Syracuse University in December 2016 with a B.S. in Psychology and Policy Studies. As a part of the Healthy Bodies Project, Shannon orders, organizes, labels, and delivers healthy foods to classrooms and child care centers. This project compliments her education in School Psychology and passion for enhancing healthy living among children. Her favorite healthy snack is a bunch of grapes!
We love our students! Below is a list of PSU students who are helping us this semester.