Active on Campus — Student stories of Global Health
Taisy Conk is Makin’ Groceries
Taisy Conk (left), with fellow MPH
student Kelley Ponder, has worked
on several research projects of the
Prevention Research Center,
including Makin’ Groceries, a survey
of neighborhood residents about
grocery story availability and
shopping and eating habits.
If you spend any length of time around local New Orleanians, you are going to hear someone talk about “makin’ groceries,” which is the local lingo for grocery shopping.
Taisy Conk (left), with fellow MPH student Kelley Ponder, has worked on several research projects of the Prevention Research Center, including Makin’ Groceries, a survey of neighborhood residents about grocery story availability and shopping and eating habits.
For global community health and behavioral sciences student Taisy Conk, it’s more than a phrase; it’s been a student job and a way for her to apply her professional skills to nutrition research.
“It’s been nice to work with the Prevention Research Center because they do a lot of work in New Orleans,” says Conk. Makin’ Groceries is a project of the Prevention Research Center (PRC) and an effort to show how having a nearby grocery store can influence resident shopping and eating habits.
The PRC was one factor that drew Conk, who is from New York City, to the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “I really liked that I could study nutrition but within community health and also take maternal and child health courses.” The focus here is very applied, she says. “Tulane has such a strong research-to-practice orientation instead of being exclusively academic like many other schools.”
She was also drawn to the truly global perspective at the school, which looks at problems through multiple lenses. “The U.S. is exporting a lot of the negative aspects of our culture. There will be a need internationally for these community-based approaches to
nutrition and obesity,” she says.
Conk’s work with the Makin’ Groceries project consists of door-to-door surveys of residents in two neighborhoods. Most people have been receptive to the survey, she says, especially because having a local grocery story is very relevant to them and would
have a direct impact on their daily life.
She sees the program as a unique opportunity. “New Orleans is an easier place to do a study [of this type] because there aren’t that many grocery stores.”
After graduation, Conk hopes to put her experience to work to develop more community-based nutrition and physical activity policies and practices to impact the built environment. Having spent time abroad, she appreciates the global approach she has experienced in her education and could envision herself in a South American city where, she says, a community approach would work well.