Spotlight: MPH Faculty in Local and Regional Food Systems

Local & Regional Food Systems

Strengthening Collaborations across Campus, County and Community

Strengthening Connection: Who We Are.

To catalyze collaboration and strengthen our impact, we are taking some time to get to know our LRFS network and are sharing what we learn. Each month we will spotlight a handful of the dedicated folks who work in local & regional food systems at Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Feel free to nominate someone (including yourself) for a spotlight interview! Interested in past spotlight interviews? Visit the LRFS website to learn more!

Katie Fiorella: Public Health, Food Systems

“Often the people that are first hurt by environmental change are the people most directly involved in food production”

K. Fiorella

While working with the fishing community around Lake Victoria in Kenya, Katie Fiorella witnessed the intimate connection between local food systems and human & environmental health. The fishermen in this community struggle with a variety of health issues, which are aggravated by declining fish populations, their primary livelihood and source of income. In her study, Katie observed that as fishermen’s health declined, their fishing practices became more environmentally harmful – they would fish inshore areas where fish breed or by means that harvest high rates of juveniles, both of which limit fish populations from being able to reproduce and grow.

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Lara Parrilla Kaltman: CCE Tompkins

To truly create change in our food system, we need collaboration across groups and disciplines.”

L. Kaltman

As the Nutrition & Community Development Issue Leader with Tompkins County CCE, Lara Parrilla Kaltman provides oversight and support for programs in nutrition, food security and access, food entrepreneurship, and community development, and believes the way to change how communities eat should begin at a very early age. What children eat in school impacts their tastes and their consumption of fruits and vegetables. Through programs like the Youth Farm Project’s Fresh Snack Program, which provides nearly 1,600 elementary students with fruits and vegetables for snack in the classroom, and Healthy Food for All, which makes CSA shares accessible to families, healthy eating habits are reinforced at school and at home. With this kind of exposure, children begin to truly enjoy eating fruits and vegetables, a step toward developing lifelong healthy eating habits.

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Audrey Baker: Public Health

“What if a food systems curriculum was mandated in public schools?”

A. Baker

Audrey Baker believes that by incorporating food systems into the K-12 curriculum, children would experience education in a more tangible and powerful way. She has seen firsthand the transformative power of food and how it can improve a child’s relationship to healthy eating and the environment. Since 2009, Audrey has worked with various farm-to-school initiatives, including The Youth Farm Project (YFP), and wants to see similar initiatives in many more schools. “Understanding the benefits of a food systems curriculum and investing in our food system and children’s relationship to food and healthy eating will improve their long term health outcomes and short term learning outcomes.” Audrey believes farm-to-school initiatives can promote community change by stimulating local economies, improving education, connecting kids to nature, and encouraging healthy eating.

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