California State University, Northridge’s graduate student Jennifer Rodzianko was recognized for her work in addressing food insecurities in her community and was selected as a Newman Civic Fellow for 2019.
The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who are changemakers and public-problem solvers. The year-long program provides students with training and resources that help them develop strategies for social change. Students chosen as fellows are awarded through Campus-Compact – a national coalition of over 1,000 colleges and universities committed to building democracy through civic education and community development – but are chosen through their respected university president.
For Rodzianko, regular family dinners with her mother and grandparents underscored the power of food to not only fill the stomach, but heal the soul. When she enrolled at CSUN in 2016 as an undergraduate, she pursued a degree in nutrition and immediately volunteered with Food Forward, a produce recovery agency that operates across Southern California. During her time there, Rodzianko was exposed to a variety of campaigns that focused on food waste, food insecurity and sustainable food practices.
“It was definitely from my grandparents where I learned to connect food with bonding,” Rodzianko said. “As I got older, I learned more about our food system and how unsustainable it is, I thought it was unacceptable for there to be any barriers when it comes to someone having access to food.”
As Rodzianko got more involved with her volunteer work, she got hands on experience in collecting food for communities that lacked proper access. Rodzianko said that her experience with Food Forward solidified her desire to work at the intersection of nutritional science, community health and environmental justice.
As a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree of science in human nutrition, Rodzianko became the lead student coordinator for the CSUN Pop-up Pantry where she helped provide over 15,000 pounds of reclaimed fresh produce to over 1,700 students, faculty and staff.
Rodzianko’s continued efforts in addressing food insecurities as both an undergraduate and graduate student earned her the Newman Civic Fellowship.
“Her passion for resolving nutrition-related disparities by addressing food insecurities made her an exceptional representative of the Newman Civic Fellowship,” said Diane Harrison, President of California State University, Northridge.
As Rodzianko prepares for the fellowship later this spring, she said she is honored to have been nominated to represent CSUN.
“I feel a boost of confidence and motivation,” Rodzianko said. “I’m a huge learner and I want to learn from the whole experience. I want to learn about the other fellows and what they’re doing in their communities, but I also want to learn more about myself and how I can better serve the communities I’m going to be working with,” she said.