Associate Director of The Food Trust
Communications Major, Fine Arts in Photography and French Minors
In my role at The Food Trust, I’ve fought for healthy food access in various ways. Currently, I manage a program in which our primary goal is to make fruits and vegetables more affordable. We distribute coupons—what we call “Food Bucks”—to families with limited resources; these Food Bucks can be redeemed for fruits and vegetables at many retail locations. A lot of my work is behind the scenes: forming relationships with new partners, managing grant funds, and thinking about strategic planning and the direction of the program.
The Food Trust’s mission is delicious, nutritious food for all—which means ensuring that where you live or how much money you have shouldn’t determine whether you get to try new fruits and vegetables and eat a healthier diet. Those things shouldn’t be such big barriers for families.
I’ve always considered myself a jack of all trades and master of none–for me, being a well-rounded person has always been an asset. It’s good to find your strengths, continuously evolve, and try new things.
I am fortunate to talk to many different kinds of folks on a daily basis. It could be a physician, a social worker, a grocery store owner, or various community members. It could be folks from other nonprofits or government agencies. So there are a lot of different stakeholders involved, and that keeps the day-to-day interesting.
I’ve been at The Food Trust for over 10 years and have also had a few opportunities to engage with legislators, both at the state and federal level. Once I was invited to testify to the North Carolina state legislature and did a press junket to get the word out about the issue of access to healthy food. It’s nice to work at the intersection of running a program and also advising on policy. I didn’t originally have a policy background, but really, so much of policy advocacy is simply making the case for why certain issues are important and should be prioritized. I had a background in communications and also in education (side note: I lived and taught English in Taiwan for a few years right after Penn)—those skill sets in teaching, writing, and strategic communication work very well in the advocacy world.
When I started at Penn, I didn’t have a 10-year plan or if I did, I couldn’t tell you what it was. I tell students it’s okay if you don’t have a clear career path, and it’s also okay if your path changes, because you learn so much in the process. I’ve always considered myself a jack of all trades and master of none–for me, being a well-rounded person has always been an asset. It’s good to find your strengths, continuously evolve, and try new things. — June 21, 2022 • Photo by Brooke Sietinsons