Madison Ekern is a sophomore at Westminster College, pursuing a self-designed major combining the fields of psychology and public health. As a public high school student in Chicago, Madison worked regularly at a local food pantry where she developed on-going relationships and an interest issues of community nutrition. Madison's approach to addressing social issues combines the relational principles of community organizing with the research focus of epidemiology. As one of the few Westminster students with life experience in both urban and rural settings, Madison is well positioned to catalyze networks of students and community members around social issues. Attending college in a rural area with few grocery stores and no public transportation, Madison is working to explore and improve public access to healthy food in the Callaway county community.
I am interested in different populations' access to food. Growing up in Chicago, I gained a lot of experience volunteering in an urban setting. Throughout high school, I volunteered at a local food bank. We provided groceries to individuals in need in my community. Chicago is a place with great disparity from neighborhood to neighborhood. I explored this issue of disparity in my high school ethnic studies class. My classmates and I collaborated by sharing experiences across lines of difference, and created an event where we invited an administrator of Chicago Public Schools to discuss inequalities within the CPS system. Getting people together to discuss a problem gave students more transparency about the problems they faced, which helps in addressing the inequalities in the future. Neighborhoods throughout the city have different resources and parent's ability to supplement monetarily or with time contribute to disparity around the city. I also see disparities in Fulton. I am interested in improving issues of access because Fulton is a rural area with no public transportation, and few grocery stores. Going to school in a rural area has exposed me to the different opportunities individuals have for accessing food here compared to urban areas.