Since it’s start in 2003, the Meatless Monday campaign has turned a simple, snappy idea into a grassroots public health movement. The initiative’s inclusive nature has attracted schools, restaurants, worksites, publications and community programs from 21 countries around the world. The success of Monday as “the day all health breaks loose” has also inspired a series of other Healthy Monday programs to help individuals move more, cook with their family, quit smoking, or find some me-time. Now, Monday Campaigns founder and former ad man Sid Lerner is sharing his unique mix of health promotion know-how and marketing savvy with the next generation of public health experts.
Lerner, an alumnus of Syracuse University, has teamed up with his alma mater to launch The Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse’s Maxwell School. Lerner’s goal of reducing chronic, preventable illness and his time-tested insights on health marketing will serve as the center’s founding principals. “Engaging individuals and communities is a critical component of developing an effective public health strategy for the nation” said Maxwell School Dean James Steinberg “The Lerner Center will put Syracuse University and the Maxwell School at the forefront of innovative strategies to address one of the most pressing public policy challenges of our time.”
One of The Lerner Center’s first projects will be to expand upon Syracuse University’s vibrant Healthy Monday program. The school’s chapel, recreation, dining and health services have already teamed up to offer weekly Meatless Monday meals, Move-it Monday fitness classes, meditation meet-ups and more. With the launch of The Lerner Center, Healthy Monday will expand to SUNY Upstate University Hospital, campus and surrounding Onondaga County.
The Lerner Center’s impact doesn’t end with Mondays! Other projects include a local nutrition literacy program and open dialogue with the Syracuse community through CNY Speaks. Center director Tom Dennison will also work with public health experts-in-training on research and policy that can be utilized nationwide. “The Lerner Center will apply the best practices of marketing and science to create public health programs that are motivating and sustainable. The Center is a laboratory for the development of strategies that can be replicated in community and national prevention programs.”