Enough meals and diet promote general well being and well-being, however many West Virginians do not get sufficient to eat. Based on Feeding America, one in eight individuals, together with one in six youngsters — among the many highest charges in the US — are going through meals insecurity.
To create more healthy communities throughout the state, two West Virginia College college students are researching and creating options that deal with starvation as a part of their fieldwork experiences via the Faculty of Public Well being.
Bachelor of Science in Public Well being program seniors Emma Chua and Ellie Nesbitt are placing their classroom lectures to work this semester at Mountaineer Meals Financial institution and Pantry Plus Extra.
“Rising up in rural West Virginia, I noticed too lots of my classmates and associates come to highschool undernourished or come to highschool with lunchboxes stuffed with Mountain Dew and Doritos,” Chua stated of selecting Mountaineer Meals Financial institution for his expertise within the area. “So many individuals wrestle to feed their households on this state, and if I can assist even one household, and even one particular person dwell a happier, more healthy life, I need to.”
Stable basis, in depth studying
The undergraduate public well being program’s sturdy basis within the elementary disciplines of public well being: biostatistics and epidemiology; labor and environmental sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and well being coverage, administration, and management — served Chua properly throughout her internship expertise within the area and ready her for a future profession.
“I feel the breadth of public well being studying provision is nice,” she stated. “By having the ability to enter the workforce and successfully land a job in advertising and marketing, knowledge analytics, analysis, undertaking administration or healthcare, the Faculty produces extremely well-rounded candidates for any undergraduate or skilled place”.
At Feeding America member Mountaineer Meals Financial institution, Chua is gaining further analysis expertise via her work along with her native diet and meals packages. Every year, Mountaineer Meals Financial institution delivers greater than 17 million meals to meals insecure individuals in 48 of West Virginia’s 55 counties. As a part of her practice-based expertise, Chua has supported that in depth community of packages by researching farmers’ markets throughout the state to assist construct partnerships with native produce and protein sources.
His analysis on group companions and alternatives for growth additionally prolonged to canned meals offered by the group to households, youngsters, the aged, veterans, and people prone to hunger.
“I’ve helped develop menu plans that observe Wholesome Consuming Analysis dietary pointers that may be distributed with meal packing containers created by Mountaineer Meals Financial institution,” she stated. “I am additionally monitoring the market costs of meals generally present in meals packing containers so buying could be positive they’re getting a good worth from producers.”
Along with her work within the Morgantown group, Chua has had the chance to journey to meals deserts all through West Virginia to volunteer with cell pantries offered by Mountaineer Meals Financial institution.
Acquire a brand new perspective
Nesbitt additionally says the classroom instruction rooted in real-world software created a robust basis of information and expertise to use throughout her internship expertise within the area and after commencement.
“My experiences within the Faculty of Public Well being have ready me professionally and academically,” Nesbitt stated. “The programs cowl necessary subjects that may be utilized to the true world, and with professors and employees to assist information you alongside the best way, I’m positively assured about my time at WVU.”
When it got here time to decide on a company for her internship expertise, Nesbitt knew she needed to work with a group accomplice going through meals insecurity.
“I’ve at all times had an curiosity within the topic,” she stated. “With out secure entry to meals, a person can’t attain his full potential. Analysis clearly demonstrates that meals insecurity impedes social, bodily and financial success. Working to alleviate meals insecurity offers the required basis for individuals to succeed in their full potential. Nobody can thrive if they’re lowered to making an attempt to outlive”.
A non-profit group that operates meals pantries, meals giveaways, and well being and wellness packages all through Monongalia County, Pantry Plus Extra has enabled Nesbitt to realize further experience in public well being schooling via faculty assist for elementary and center faculty youngsters.
“I helped resolve which gadgets to incorporate on particular menus for Monongalia County colleges. These particular menus are baggage that comprise meals for youngsters that suffer from allergic reactions and can’t eat what is obtainable to them on common menus,” defined Nesbitt.
She has additionally developed recipes that comprise canned or packaged meals for the Pantry Plus Extra cookbook distributed to prospects.
“This expertise has opened my eyes to the variety of people who find themselves battling meals insecurity,” Nesbitt stated. “Simply because one space might look ‘higher’ than others does not imply a good portion of the individuals in that space aren’t struggling.”
Trying forward: serving to individuals by protecting them wholesome
Armed with each educational and experiential data, Chua and Nesbitt are prepared for the subsequent chapter of their journey after graduating in Might.
Chua was impressed to pursue a second main in animal and dietary sciences after studying about One Well being – an method to stability and optimize the well being of individuals, animals and the atmosphere – in a public well being class and want to attend faculty of medication to finish his schooling.
“Rising up, all I needed to do was assist individuals, and when I discovered there was an instantaneous, tangible approach to try this with this diploma, I jumped on the probability,” Chua stated. “I feel the semester that basically modified issues for me and the way I seen public well being was spring 2020. It was a novel expertise, being a freshman when COVID-19 shut down the world. Sarcastically, I used to be on International Well being with Dr Gross on the time and in every class interval she would replace us with the most recent COVID knowledge and assist us make predictions about what was coming subsequent.
“I feel that have made me notice that public well being was not only a software to assist individuals proper now, but in addition a preventative measure. It was actually fascinating, and I feel if I would been a pupil at every other time in historical past, I would not have had the identical expertise, for higher or for worse.”
Nesbitt is thinking about broadening her data of different cultures by finding out overseas in Spain and touring all through Europe earlier than persevering with her schooling with a grasp’s diploma in public well being or a associated area.
“To me, public well being means so many issues,” Nesbitt stated. “After I take into consideration public well being, I take into consideration prevention, promotion, fairness, schooling, sustainability, social justice and a lot extra. I like how public well being encompasses so many facets of well being with the primary focus being on protecting individuals wholesome.”
High photograph: Emma Chua (left) and Ellie Nesbitt
CONTACT: Nikky Luna, Advertising and marketing and Communication Director
WVU Faculty of Public Well being