When school is not in session, many kids go hungry. Tracy Mouw (MPH ’05), a Program Analyst with the Child Nutrition Policy and Program Development Division of the Food and Nutrition Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), developed GIS (geographic information system) maps that help state agencies and communities identify areas where kids may be hungry in the summer.
“Our maps help you see where the poorest kids are, and who needs to be fed,” says Mouw. Those maps help people find partners to address those needs.
Before pursuing her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Maternal and Child Health (MCH), Traci Mouw received her BS from the UMN’s College of Biological Sciences. “I’ve always cared about developing and influencing policies that will improve the lives of vulnerable populations,” said Mouw, whose undergraduate focus was in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, “That’s what brought me to MCH and public health, after my undergrad work in women’s studies and ecology.”
“This position allows me to think about the fact that cities have only enough food supply to last two days,” she mused. “The strengths and the weaknesses of the built environment, food insecurity, redundant or inefficient food systems…these are things that I think about and try to inform policy about.” For example, “We have to do projects like this,” she emphasized. “We have to bring our epi[demiology] training to big problems, like hunger…we can use large datasets, see patterns, and connect the dots with GIS…and none of this has to cost much. We have the tools and the skills.”
Read more about Mouw’s professional path and current work in this Healthy Generations article.