Ashley G. Jacobs
Mentor / Lab:
Dr. Heather Eicher-Miller
Specific Research Area / Project:
What are food pantry users receiving?: The meal patterns, dietary intake, and food security status of food pantry users in Central Northwestern Indiana
Food Pantries are venues where individuals in need go to receive free food that can be taken home and used to prepare meals for their household. The intended goal of pantries was to provide a 3 day supply of food but the actual number of days the food lasts may be different. Approximately 5% of all US households utilize emergency food pantries (14.4 million Americans) and receive an estimated average of 38.2 pounds of free food per visit. Although the majority of pantries limit the number of visits to once a month, the amount of food furnished through these venues could be responsible for ~25% of household food supply. Therefore, the types and amounts of food that pantries supply have the potential to impact the diets of low resource pantry users.
Before to attending graduate school, I worked as a clinical dietitian for 3 years where I taught outpatient nutrition classes for adolescents and adults. It was then I discovered my passion/gift for teaching and I decided to leave my job to pursue additional training. I was later selected as a Pediatric Nutrition Fellow at Riley Hospital. My experience as a fellow enabled me to better define my personal mission – to bridge the gap between the knowledge of nutrition and its practical everyday application in efforts to empower individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures to adopt healthier lifestyle habits which transcends generations – which ultimately led me to my decision to attend graduate school. I am honored to have the opportunity to work in Dr. Heather Eicher-Miller’s lab as her work focuses on identifying health and nutrition disparities among food-insecure and low-resource populations to inform interventions that will improve food insecurity and health in these populations.