“I'm on my second career. After working for years in mechanical engineering, I want to do something that feeds my soul, something that I’m passionate about.
I enjoyed the challenges of engineering, but what I like most about public health is the social justice mission to improve people’s lives and reduce inequities.
I’m interested in food and nutrition, and the link between diet and health. Food insecurity is one of our biggest global challenges. While there’s more than enough food produced in the world to feed everyone, over 800 million people go hungry. It’s a local problem as well: here in Minnesota, 1 in 11 households are affected by hunger. It’s estimated that the state spends $1.6 billion per year in medical, health care, and lost productivity costs related to hunger.
At the same time, even though there’s plenty of food being produced, the food that is available isn’t always the healthiest — many people live in ‘food swamps,’ where the most accessible food is fast food, lacking in nutrients and packed with additives. Through my program here, I spent a summer doing outreach work with Second Harvest Heartland visiting local food shelves, community events, and farmers markets to educate people about food resources and benefits available to them through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It was incredibly rewarding to interact directly with the community.”