Faculty Profile

Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner, PhD, RD

John G. Searle Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences
Dr. Garner is a registered dietitian and community-engaged nutrition interventionist. She is focused on co-creating and evaluating programs designed to support biological, social, and community health with a particular focus on food and nutrition security. This work is possible thanks to close relationships with an interdisciplinary mix of partners across academic, healthcare, agricultural, social service, non-profit, and for-profit sectors. Dr. Garner’s team, The Garner Research Group, leverages a diverse set of methods to conduct such research, integrating quantitative and qualitative data toward unique insights. The ultimate aim of this research is to inform clinical and community practice and policies related to nutrition, food systems, and community development.

  • PhD, Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, 2018
  • BS, Dietetics, Central Michigan University, 2013


Biopsychosocial health, food behaviors, food environment, food and nutrition security, community development, food policy, cross-sector partnerships, health equity


Garner leads a community-academic partnership based in Appalachian Ohio to study local food system initiatives and community food security. This ongoing effort has generated insights regarding the critical role of intermediating non-profit organizations and site-level stewards to local value chain success; the relevance of one’s life course to episodic instances of food insecurity; and, methodologically, the potential for remote recruitment and engagement of a rural sample for health-centric research. Qualitative interviews are also being leveraged to interrogate whether current food security measures are sufficient to capture the nuanced reality of this experience, particularly in rural regions characterized by long traditions of resourcefulness and reciprocity. Building on these insights, efforts are underway to study a whole-of-community, whole-of-health intervention to advance community food security.   

Other current efforts include (1) a cross-sector produce prescription intervention paired with food-related skill-building and Community Health Worker support for individuals facing food insecurity and type 2 diabetes (role: co-lead process evaluation); (2) a feasibility trial of a commercial wellness program tailored for food pantry recipients (role: lead evaluator); (3) a whole-of-health intervention for Black men facing myriad health disparities (role: co-lead assessments of cross-sector collaboration); and various epidemiological efforts to understand the relationships between an individual’s circumstances, identities, behaviors, and health outcomes.

Previous projects have included (1) a mixed method process evaluation and cost-effectiveness analysis of a subsidized community supported agriculture intervention for parent-child dyads from low-income households; (2) a multi-season observational study of food sourcing, time use, dietary outcomes, and program experiences among farmers market incentive program participants; (3) a survey-based study of school foodservice professionals’ approach to serving meals during the COVID-19 pandemic; and (4) a systematic review of food system models for promoting food security and health among low-income households, among others.

Venkatesh KK, Walker DM, Yee LM, Wu J, Garner J, McNeil B, Haas DM, Mercer B, Reddy UM, Silver R, Wapner R, Saade G, Parry S, Simhan H, Lindsay K, Grobman WA. Association of Living in a Food Desert and Poor Periconceptional Diet Quality in a Cohort of Nulliparous Pregnant Individuals. J Nutr. 2023 Aug;153(8):2432-2441. doi: 10.1016/j.tjnut.2023.06.032.

Garner JA, Hanson KL, Jilcott Pitts SB, Kolodinsky J, Sitaker MH, Ammerman AS, Kenkel D, Seguin-Fowler RA. Cost analysis and cost effectiveness of a subsidized community supported agriculture intervention for low-income families. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2023 Jul 10;20(1):84. doi: 10.1186/s12966-023-01481-7.

Walker DM, Garner JA, Hefner JL, Headings A, Jonas DE, Clark A, Bose-Brill S, Nawaz S, Seiber E, McAlearney AS, Brock G, Zhao S, Reopell L, Coovert N, Shrodes JC, Spees CK, Sieck CJ, Di Tosto G, DePuccio MJ, Williams A, Hoseus J, Baker C, Brown MM, Joseph JJ. Rationale and design of the linking education, produce provision, and community referrals to improve diabetes care (LINK) study. Contemp Clin Trials. 2023 Jul;130:107212. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2023.107212.

Krzyzanowski Guerra K, Hanks AS, Plakias ZT, Huser S, Redfern T, Garner JA. Local Value Chain Models of Healthy Food Access: A Qualitative Study of Two Approaches. Nutrients. 2021 Nov 19;13(11):4145. doi: 10.3390/nu13114145.

Garner JA, Jilcott Pitts SB, Hanson KL, Ammerman AS, Kolodinsky J, Sitaker MH, Seguin-Fowler RA. Making community-supported agriculture accessible to low-income families: findings from the Farm Fresh Foods for Healthy Kids process evaluation. Transl Behav Med. 2021 Apr 7;11(3):754-763. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibaa080.

Garner JA, Coombs C, Savoie-Roskos MR, Durward C, Seguin-Fowler RA. A Qualitative Evaluation of Double Up Food Bucks Farmers' Market Incentive Program Access. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2020 Jul;52(7):705-712. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2019.11.010.

Email: garnerja@umich.edu

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