UC Global Food Initiative Student Fellowships

We are pleased to announce awardees of the 2014-2015 University of California Global Food Initiative Student Fellowships. Read more about their exciting projects.

UCSF Student Projects Funded in 2014-15

Student: Jacob Benjamin Mirsky, MD candidate, School of Medicine

Project Title: “Exploring patient perspectives on food insecurity to optimize the San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) Therapeutic Food Pantry”

Image of front of San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center showing the building name and grey exterior. Photography credit to Susan Merrell.Project Description: This project utilizes community engagement practices to explore patient perspectives at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) regarding food insecurity with the goal of informing future food policy. Food insecurity, defined by going hungry or being at risk for going hungry because of the inability to afford food, results in the consumption of high calorie, processed foods that pollute the land and air, require energy-intensive packaging, stymie the growth of sustainable agriculture, and ultimately contribute to chronic disease (e.g., obesity and diabetes) and worse health outcomes. Through the development of a scholarly approach for identifying patient perspectives on food insecurity, the project will help shape food policy at the SFGH Therapeutic Food Pantry (TFP)—scheduled to open in 2015. By focusing on patient surveys developed in close collaboration with Dr. Rita Nguyen, the leading clinician behind the TFP, as well as Dr. Hilary Seligman, a nationally renowned researcher at UCSF with extensive experience studying food insecurity and food policy, the project will assess patient food access, barriers to healthy eating, motivation to receive fresh produce and prepare food at home, hopes for the TFP, and personal reflections on food insecurity. Surveys also will assess patient awareness of other food sources in the community provided by the Department of Public Health.

Student: Jonathan Schor, MD-PhD candidate, Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), Graduate Division and School of Medicine

Project Title: “Reinterpreting Nutritional Facts: A tool to inform consumer choices in the short term, and food policy in the long term”

A man reviews food options in cafeteria glass. Photography credit to Elena Zhukova.Project Description: A tool to convert 'Nutrition Facts' into more tractable alternatives. UCSF, being a leader in nutrition science, is in a prime position to assist, and the project will rely on this expertise to make an impact. This project will consult with dietitians and other members of the UCSF Weight Management Program to ensure that the tool is as effective as possible. In line with UCSF's leadership in impacting food policy, a controlled study of the caloric intake of tool users versus non-users would demonstrate the importance of more tractable nutrition labeling on foods.