At Eat Right Ontario, we're involved with Ontario's diabetes strategy, so I develop healthy eating resources focused on various cultural groups.
I have a bachelor of applied science, food and nutrition from Ryerson University, where I also I received a food security certificate and later a nutrition communications master's in health sciences.
It was when I heard of food security for the first time that I began to understand the social determinants of health. It's not just telling people to choose healthy foods, but really understanding how their work and family environment affects how they eat, what they eat and when they eat.
The master's program honed my skills for the job I do now. I did a major research project on antioxidants and women at increased risk for breast cancer. I planned the project from beginning to end, managed a team of research assistants, applied for funding, was completely responsible for the project's implementation and then got the findings published.
We always work on tight timelines at Eat Right Ontario. It's a part of the job that is really stressful, but after the master's program I felt ready to handle that.
In the master's program I also delved into cross-cultural communication and critical analysis of nutrition communications, looking at a public service announcement or article and asking, "Who does this speak to? And more importantly, who is left out? Who is not going to feel connected to it, and what can we offer that person?" I had these skills, but they weren't developed until the master's program.
On the job, you have to be curious about people, because people have different ways of looking at food and using food. You can't assume that because you're educated you know right off the bat what someone is experiencing.