In 2022, our Refugee Health Unit team partnered with Leah’s Pantry to facilitate a fellowship focused on promoting health equity by creating culturally competent and wide-ranging content for CalFresh Healthy Living Implementers. From November to May of 2023, the team of 6 fellows, under the guidance of Lead Fellow Noun Abdelaziz, engaged in collective and independent research to study contemporary discourse regarding healthy living and the barriers that exist for communities of color. The fellows, all college students representing various refugee and immigrant communities in San Diego, utilized their life experiences and academic studies to approach the project with unique perspectives and make the discourse more accessible for underrepresented communities.
As a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) alumna, Noun built on the methodology established through her research published by the American Public Health Association (APHA) in 2018 regarding the importance of youth-led initiatives in food justice. Using their collective research as a framework, the fellows aimed to deconstruct the exclusionary, Eurocentric definition of “healthy and nutritious living” and outline culturally competent means of approaching health holistically from different backgrounds and cultures. They further sought to reframe stigmatizing language to steer the field of healthy living away from diet culture to instead promote a more balanced lifestyle. Over the course of 6 months, the interns met weekly under Noun’s guidance. They worked collectively and independently to create videos and other content to train future cohorts of CalFresh Healthy Living Implementers.