Ricardo Moreno, N22

School: Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Program: Master’s in Food and Nutrition Policy and Programs, with a concentration in interventions and program management

Dream job: Program manager

What inspired you to start Friedman’s Nutrition Equity Scholars Program?

I really enjoyed working with Boston public school students through Teach for America, and with teenagers at the gym in Dorchester where I work, teaching them to shop for and cook healthy foods, and to spot the healthy thing on the menu at fast-food restaurants. I cared tremendously about their well-being, and they inspired me to do more.

So, when I got to Friedman, I designed a program pairing Friedman students with students from Boston public schools. In our weekly meetings, we listen to what they’re interested in and help them reach their nutrition and academic goals.

Nutrition education is much more than learning about macronutrients. So much of what is ‘educational’ is not about ‘informing’it’s about making strong relationships with the people you work with, and understanding the psychological, social, environmental, and cultural significance of food and nutrition in their lives.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about nutrition?

I had several opportunities to work with diverse communities, especially during my time with a nonprofit called Catalyzing Communities. I helped to inform school principals, health centers, and other stakeholders about how city systems intersect with obesity, and to empower them with resources and technical advice to make changes within their communities.

My work as an educator, program manager, and researcher has taught me that community partnership and engagement are essential for significant health changes. Obesity prevention needs to be accessible, culturally relevant, and community-based. I’d like to help out whichever community needs it the most—but I have a particularly strong connection with the Latino community, which is where I got started, and where I see a lot of opportunity for change.

What else do you hope to do after graduating?

I want to keep directly working with people, develop policy, create system change, and finish writing my book on the Chicano experience titled In the Background. I also want to one day incorporate nutrition into school science standards so students can learn and cook food in their K-12 education. It’s just as relevant as other sciences, and it’s fun.

When I get down to it, I think poor nutritional habits leads to missed moments with our favorite people. I don't have grandparents because of diet-related issues. I almost lost my dad for the same reason—fortunately, he made significant changes and reversed his heart disease. Ultimately, I’d like to make sure that people think critically about what they eat, which I believe will lead to lasting changes, better health, and memorable moments with friends and family.

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