NHC PGH member Ali striking an over-the-shoulder pose in a field

Educational Background: B.S. Nutrition and Dietetics. University of Pittsburgh. What is your title and role at your host-site? I am serving as a Nutrition Educator at South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM); a non-profit Social Service Agency serving low-income suburban families in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, including a growing number of refugee and immigrant families from around the world. I am primarily involved with food pantry operations. I also work to connect families with health resources and provide nutrition education based on the community’s needs. Why did you join AmeriCorps/National Health Corps? Everyone deserves access to healthy, affordable and quality nutrition care. As food pantries find themselves at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis, many families are now facing an often overwhelming need to prepare their own food at home, sometimes with food they have never seen before, or do not know how to cook. We need to work towards solutions that connect nutrition education, access, affordability, variety, and distribution. I want to apply my skills to enhance the health and well-being of these underserved populations. I chose to serve with AmeriCorps to gain a deeper understanding of the social and physical determinants of health, as well as the health inequalities that exist in our healthcare system so that I can be a part of the solution. Healthy bodies and minds require nutritious meals at every age. Safe, available, and accessible food has never been more relevant than it is now. What are you hoping to gain from your year of service? Aside from the inevitable personal growth I’ll experience while working towards the goals above, I’m also hoping to expand my knowledge of public health benefits and food assistance programs in America. Deeper understanding of cross-cultural relationships is another priority for me this year. Since I serve a large Bhutanese-Nepali refugee and immigrant community on an almost daily basis, cross-cultural communication skills are essential for establishing trust and effective service possibilities. Finally, I’m looking forward to friendships with members in my cohort and fostering meaningful relationships with members of my community. What are your plans after AmeriCorps Service? My goals after AmeriCorps are to continue educating and advocating for a more equitable community health system and ultimately healthier world. I haven’t made a specific choice on how I will manifest this goal professionally. (I am currently awaiting a 2021 deployment in the Peace Corps, but circumstances with COVID19 have prompted me to consider other educational, clinical, and public health/service options. Areas of interest include: Public Health Nutrition; Food Security; Medical Nutrition Therapy; Maternal and Childhood Nutrition; Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Where do you envision yourself in 5 years? In five years, I hope to have started and sustained my own vegetable garden; improved my mile time/cardiovascular health; will have hair down to my waist; will have advanced from half lotus to full lotus pose in my yoga practice (Padmasana); and I will be celebrating the 22nd birthday of my pet cockatiel, Gertrude.