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Ashlyn Anderson

Title of Program: Food Security and Public Health Nutrition

E-mail Address:

Hometown: Franklin, Tennessee

Year: Senior

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2022

Description of Program: My program seeks to examine the intersection of nutrition related disease and health disparities, within which systems of privilege and oppression interact to influence the ways people access, afford, and consume food. I have developed a curriculum aimed at understanding the food system on a global and local scale, specifically the way that food security and nutritional outcomes manifest within these systems. Through courses in sociology, food policy, anthropology, and public health, I study the plethora of factors that influence food choices and health outcomes in human nutrition. I aim to critically study food system issues in various contexts including the international countries, local communities in Knoxville, and the food landscape on UT's campus. In doing so, I aim to utilize public health as a framework to better serve communities and advocate for more equitable food policies and health infrastructure. I also will continue studying Spanish language and culture through a minor in Hispanic Studies.

Departmental Emphases: Nutrition, Public Health, Sociology, Anthropology, Food Policy, and Spanish

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Betsy Anderson Steeves

Plans after graduation (career, graduate/professional school, etc.):My plan after graduation is to pursue a variety of scholarships and fellowships, including Fulbright, the Emerson Hunger Fellows Program, and programs. Through my continued education in Spanish, I plan to complete the Fulbright or other international opportunities in a Spanish speaking country such as Mexico, then matriculate into a graduate program upon return to the United States. Such programs include coordinated degrees like the MPH/RD that combine public health education through a Masters of Public Health with a nutrition foundation as a Registered Dietician. I am also considering food policy routes through the Masters of Science in Food and Nutrition Policy and Programs. Later in my career, I plan to work for food policy and advocacy organizations whose mission is to improve public health infrastructure to ensure nutrition for all by promoting sustainable and equitable food systems.

Other Academic Interests: Food insecurity (specifically among college students), Spanish culture and literature; public health; domestic food policy and anti hunger programs such as SNAP and WIC, international agriculture and environmental sustainability; food justice and food sovereignty movements; visual art in all forms including printmaking, drawing and painting

Study Abroad: I have traveled abroad to Guatemala in the spring of 2019 for a course titled "Food Insecurity and Natural Resources." I then returned to Guatemala for the summer to intern with a clinic and work on community health discussions, nutrition education classes for youth, maternal and child nutrition, and the construction of a garden to supply fresh produce to the local population. I plan to continue to travel abroad during and after my undergraduate career.

Research Experiences or Internships: In 2019, I interned with Vanderbilt University's Recreational Center to provide nutrition enrichment and education to the patrons. I also facilitated nutrition education and cooking classes for youth in the Vanderbilt University summer camp. Through the pandemic of 2020, I interned virtually with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a D.C. based food policy non-profit, on the Nutrition Policy and Early Childhood Programs team. While there, I advocated for the expansion of federal food policies such as SNAP and WIC throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and supported efforts on increasing the nutrition and accessibility of the programs for families. In summer 2021, I was a Zero Hunger Intern through the Congressional Hunger Center to sharpen my anti hunger leadership and advocacy skills. I was placed in St. Louis, Missouri where I served as site supervisor for the summer meals program, managed a volunteer team, and facilitated emergency food distribution.

I am a research assistant in Dr. Anderson Steeves' HEALTHE Lab which uses mixed methods to study topics related to public health nutrition and food insecurity. I am conducting independent research using qualitative methods on the lived experience of food insecurity for UT students, and ways to improve food access.

Part-time employment; Hobbies; Campus Clubs/Activities: Part-time employment; Hobbies; Campus Clubs/Activities: President of the Student Basic Needs Coalition (SBNC), teaching Cooking Club at Pond Gap Elementary School, volunteering at the local farmers markets and Beardsley Community Farm, VolBreaks Program, Haslam Scholars Program (2018 Cohort), Leadership Knoxville Scholars (LKS) program (2020 Cohort). In my free time I also enjoy cooking new dishes, exploring local restaurants, hiking in the Smoky mountains, and painting & drawing.

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