Tiffany Smith named a Newman Civic Fellow
By Bob Cunningham
For Tiffany Smith ’18, Bowling Green State University’s dietetics program was the perfect major. It combined her two passions: nutrition and serving the community.
She sought out a role as a Civic Action Leader to help grow BGSU campuses’ commitment to food insecurity. Smith’s commitment included coordinating a steering committee, helping lead a 10-week garden-based nutrition education program for low-resourced families, raising funds to bring a mobile food pantry regularly to campus, and building coalitions with food pantries and community partners to connect the needs and talents of students and community members.
“My undergraduate research related to critical issues in this area, and I am committed to becoming a professional and an activist who will be an advocate and change agent both with the people I serve, and the systems we navigate to create communities that allow everyone to thrive and access healthy, nutritious food,” she said.
For her hard work and dedication to making her community a better place, she recently was named Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact. Smith is among 13 students who make up the Ohio cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. The one-year fellowship honors the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact's founders and a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides learning opportunities focused on the skills the fellows need in order to serve as effective agents of change in addressing public problems and building equitable communities.
“Tiffany Smith is a committed educator and activist dedicated to building communities where all people have sustainable access to healthy and nutritious food,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers said. “Over the last two years, she has worked on a variety of projects within her academic area of dietetics and health promotion and then as the coordinator of our campus food insecurity/hunger alliance. She has brought together campus and community members and organizations to link resources, expertise, and awareness to make a local impact on food access.
“Tiffany has combined community-based assessment and research with direct feeding programs through mobile food pantries to stimulate creative thinking about how our community can work together to end hunger. Her ability to mobilize and connect diverse constituent groups has resulted in the emergence of innovative ideas about how we can impact food access locally, and has created momentum for people to get engaged.”
Smith’s involvement in taking action to end hunger began with volunteering for the food pantry and Meals on Wheels program in her hometown of Vermillion, Ohio. Once she took her first nutrition class at BGSU Firelands, everything started to click for her. She soon switched from her original major of nursing to dietetics and moved to the BGSU campus.
“At BGSU, I have focused my volunteering, internships and projects on food insecurity and hunger,” she said. “Linking my coursework and research to grass roots initiatives has deepened my understanding of systems that shape access to food as key factors in the social determinants of health.”
In the fall, Smith will begin working toward her Master’s of Science in food and nutrition at the University, coupled with her dietetics internship. Jill Bunge, the executive director of Food for Thought Toledo, will be her mentor.
“I think the experience and opportunities I’m getting now at BGSU and as a Newman Civic Fellow are allowing me to foresee my future of how I can help with the important issue of food insecurity,” Smith said. “What I’ve learned at BGSU, I can take out into the community so that I can be a productive alumna and do the things that are going to make the public a little better.”