Exceptional Research Award Undergraduate commendation prize

Rethinking Burlington Area Food Programming for New Americans

Anitra Conover

This study identifies avenues for improving food security within America’s resettled refugee communities. It aims to bridge institutional knowledge gaps among service providers, food distributors, and case managers. The study finds that foraging and fishing programs are promising ways to address food insecurity amongst New Americans, and malnutrition treatment in these communities is often overlooked.

A reviewer praised the execution of and emphasis on both contextual and conceptual review, writing ‘the thesis may contribute towards work that influences policy decisions. Taking a top-down, bottom-up, and middle-out approach to understanding food as a spatial process is a novel contribution to the field.’

This research is related to our profile on global health and wellbeing.

Researcher profile

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Anitra Conover

Anitra graduated from the University of Vermont in 2022 with a B.A. in Global Studies. She is currently serving in AmeriCorp to start her career as a food security advocate working in agricultural policy. You can find her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/anitra-conover/ or reach out to her at anitra.conover@gmail.com

Researcher profile

What was your thesis topic

This study creates four publications in order to improve food security amongst resettled refugees in the Greater Burlington Area. Each publication is intended for a different audience, and together, they are meant to bridge gaps in service providers, food distributors, and case managers’ institutional knowledge. In ten interviews with food distributors and refugee service providers, this investigation evaluates each publication to uncover larger dynamics in New American food systems and better serve New American communities’ food needs.

In what ways do you think your topic improves the world?

This study uncovers three trends that can be used to improve food programming for New Americans. First, New American communities often avoid CSA programs, potentially because of previous experiences with food shortages and supply chain disruptions. Second, foraging and fishing programs could improve New American food security because of demonstrated interest and the prevalence of these traditions in newcomers’ countries of origin. Lastly, there is a huge need for malnutrition treatment in New American communities, which goes largely unaddressed.

In what ways have you changed your mind since you finished writing it?

I did not expect the unfamiliar cold climate to be such a prevalent issue limiting New American food security. I also did not expect newcomers to need guidance on using certain kitchen appliances or disposing of food waste in a way that does not attract household pests. When I think of food needs and food systems, I tend to think about purchasing and growing food rather than food preparation, preservation, or disposal.

What recommendations would you make to others interested in taking a similar direction with their research?

Always center the community being served and improving the institutions that serve them. The purpose of your research is to support more impactful programming.

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