CAPA, Field Work Term, Institutional News, Local Impact

Announcing the Food Insecurity & Population Health Fellowship

This winter, through the Food Insecurity & Population Health Fellowship, Bennington College will offer seven students fully-paid remote internships with organizations in the Bennington community focused on various dimensions of population health, with a special focus on food insecurity.

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Population health transforms the healthcare model—from thinking about healthcare from seeing patients only when they are sick, to partnering with people to address their social, environmental, and economic issues before they become sick. Food insecurity—the inability to access affordable, nutritious food—affects one in eight Americans, or approximately 40 million people, and is particularly acute in southern Vermont.

Both population health and food insecurity have been particular focuses of the College’s Center for the Advancement of Public Action, which is currently in the second year of a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to collaborate with local partners to address the systemic causes of food insecurity in Bennington County. This grant will fund five of the Food Insecurity & Population Health Fellowship positions.

“We have found that by partnering with SVMC, our local hospital; SVSU, our local public schools; GBICS/Kitchen Cupboard; and Meals on Wheels of Bennington County, we can accomplish so much more than we could do on our own,” said Susan Sgorbati, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action. “There is such talented leadership in these organizations, and we are so pleased that Bennington College students get the opportunity to learn from them during their Field Work Term in the Food Insecurity and Population Health Fellowship program.” 

In winter 2019, Bennington College partnered with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) to launch a Population Health Fellowship, which benefited students, the hospital, and the community by bringing renewed creativity, education, and attention to this critical public health work. 

The Food Insecurity & Population Health Fellowship builds upon the fellowship’s success, while also inviting additional food insecurity partners—including Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union (SVSU), Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services (GBICS), and Meals on Wheels of Bennington County, into this work.

“This fellowship represents the best of community partnerships—our students gain valuable work experience in high-demand healthcare fields, while offering a range of skills and global perspectives to SVMC and our other community partners,” said Faith McClellan, Associate Dean of Work-Integrated Learning. “This fellowship is one of the many ways in which Bennington seeks to extend its reach beyond our campus, enhancing both our students’ experiences and the wider community.” 

About the Fellows

Jacqueline De Loos '22 will work with SVMC in the role of Opioid Response & Social Determinants of Health Advisor. De Loos will work with Kristi Cross, Director of Bennington Blueprint for Health, and Alex Figueroa, BluePrint Care Coordinator, on implementation and evaluation of Bennington's Community Action Grant, involving various community-wide strategies to address opioid use in the Bennington Health Service Area.

Stephanie Hernandez '22 will work with Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services in the role of Food Insecurity Intern. Hernandez will work with GBICS Director Scott Winslow in support of work serving people living in and near poverty, including advancing access to food, shelter, and health care.

DaEun Jung '21 will work with SVMC in the role of Food Security and Wellness Trailblazer. Jung will work with Tiffany Tobin, SVMC's Director of Hospitality Services, and Rory Price, SVMC's Director of Volunteer Services & Community Engagement, to help create, sustain, and evaluate collaborative programs to educate, feed, and support the community, along with many organizational partners.

Sizo Lukhele '22 will work with SVMC in the role of Population Health Community Resilience Coordinator. Lukhele will work with Jim Trimarchi, SVMC's Director of Planning, and Lindsay Spitz, Community Health VISTA, to leverage healthcare data in support of a community health needs assessment, advanced healthcare payment models, and projects focused on community resilience.

Cassidy Skarka '22 and Mohit K C '23 will both work with Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union in the role of Food Insecurity Interns. They will work alongside teachers and administrators in Bennington's K-12 school district to develop and implement primary resources and activities to support the nutrition curriculum to address local food insecurity.

Kunlek Tamang '22 will work with Meals on Wheels of Bennington County in the role of Food Insecurity Intern. Tamang will work with Ilsa Svoboda, Executive Director of MOW of Bennington County, on programs that advance access to nutritious and healthy food for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Local Impact, Partnerships, and Equity

Over the past 5 years, during Bennington College's annual Field Work Term, Bennington students have worked for 90 Vermont businesses and not-for-profits, including 50 in the Bennington area, contributing over 39,000 hours of work. Local and regional employers include Bennington County Regional Commission, Bennington Museum, the Lightning Jar, Vermont Arts Exchange, the Vermont State House, and more.

This Food Insecurity & Population Health Fellowship will include regularly scheduled convenings of fellows and supervisors, leveraging the cohort-based model similar to the College’s highly effective Museum Fellows Term and Lucille Lortel Foundation Fellowships in Theatre, combined with an apprenticeship-like mentorship structure that gives students up-close exposure to specific career paths in population health and food insecurity. 

Employers interested in partnering with Bennington College to offer Field Work Term positions in their organization are encouraged to visit the Recruit Bennington webpage for more information or to contact Sarah Clader, Associate Director of Career Development and Field Work Term, at