Nov. 12 2019

A New Focus on Food

It was a busy summer for the Columbia Mailman School’s first group of Food Fellows, as they explored the connection between food and public health in internships with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Helen Keller International, and the Comprando Rico y Sano (Buying Healthy and Flavorful Foods) program, among others.

Sonia Sifuentes, ’20, interned with the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, a New York City nonprofit that runs a supermarket-style food pantry and provides healthy food and supportive services. “I’ve always been interested in food and nutrition, and the Food Fellows program gives me a stipend that supports me as I explore this field,” she says.

At Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming in the Hudson Valley, Food Fellow Mallory Stellato ’20 focused on assessing how Glynwood’s programs in sustainable agriculture could be harnessed to better improve community health in the Hudson Valley. “The goal is for Glynwood to help support regional agriculture, drive a healthy population, a healthy economy, and healthy agriculture,” she says.

The program is part of a larger focus on food. Former New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman joined the faculty of the Department of Health Policy and Management, and this year hosted a lecture series on the food justice movement. “Food and public health are connected in some way in virtually every department and discipline, including climate science, forced migration, health equity, nutrition, and chronic disease prevention,” notes Julie Kornfeld, PhD, MPH, vice dean for education and associate professor of epidemiology. “Faculty are also focused on obesity, nutrition and the safety and regulation of food, so it’s a natural next step to expand our curriculum and our research on food and public health.”