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Student profile: Lynzy Groves ‘16

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Lynzy Groves ’16 is one of two recipients of the Collegiate American Marketing Association’s Social Impact Scholarship Award. She will receive $5000 toward her 2016-17 tuition.

An active member of the Chatham Marketing Association (CMA), Lynzy serves as Vice-President of Community Impact, a CMA position that provides leadership, planning, and marketing know-how to guide the club in all of its social outreach activities. For the past two years, CMA has participated in the “Young Art” fair, an event that raises awareness and funds for The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Free Care Fund. Each year, Lynzy planned the format, developed relationships with Hospital staff, collected artwork from students on Chatham’s campus, developed promotional materials, identified and collected silent auction items, and organized and set up the venue.

As President of Chatham’s Relay For Life organization, Lynzy recruits staff, sets goals, coordinates fundraising efforts, conducts community and sponsorship outreach, and designs event promotions and communications. Last year, she interned with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). She did cold calling, mass mailings, volunteer coordination, auction item and donation solicitation, and constructing and sending pre and post-event press releases.

“The best part of Lynzy’s leadership in this role is her ability to motivate and inspire others to make a commitment and stick with it, despite difficulties with competing priorities and finite resources. Her positive attitude is an inspiration to everyone she touches, making involvement in the program rewarding in of itself,”

— Professor Deborah DeLong, PhD.

Where are you from?
Chicora, PA. It’s a very very small town, about an hour and a half from Pittsburgh.

Why did you decide to come to Chatham?
My mom went to graduate school in Pittsburgh, and told me that she thought I would love Chatham. And then the first time I stepped on campus, I thought this is the place I need to be. It felt like home.

I don’t think I would have had as many opportunities anywhere else, such a small school, individualized attention, really fosters your growth as a person. I’m not the same person I was freshman year. 

What course or courses have been most meaningful to you here? Well, I started as an art major, but quickly realized I didn’t want that to be my job, so after freshman year, I started exploring other interests. I took Principles of Marketing with Dr. DeLong, and just fell in love with how it unites the social aspect of business with numbers and creativity. I always knew I wanted to do something that gave back to people, and I thought marketing could be a way I could do that.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I try to focus my marketing skills on the social impact area. I love working with non-profits, especially when I can see firsthand how they give back to the community. I like being able to use my marketing skills to create events and promote them and unite people in the spirit of giving back.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a big music fan; it’s my relaxation. I DJ for birthday parties and things like that. And I still love drawing. I have a minor in graphic design, and I design posters that you might see around campus, especially when it’s time for the Relay for Life.

What do you think you’d like to do after you graduate?
I’m definitely going to go into the nonprofit world. Money isn’t a priority; I want to make sure my work means something to someone. I intend to always have purpose behind my work.

This year, for the second time since 2010, Chatham’s CMA is a finalist in the AMA’s International Collegiate Case Competition. The challenge was  to devise a new strategy and tactical marketing program for the Hershey Company’s Ice Breakers brand.  CMA students will  present their case solution to senior management of The Hershey Company in the finals round held at the collegiate conference in New Orleans in March.

Community Research: Food and Health

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Some things just line up. In 2014, Assistant Professor of Nutrition in the Food Studies program Mim Seidel, MS, RD, LDN, found out that the Aetna Foundation was looking to fund a project that addresses healthy eating in low-income communities—an ideal match for Mim, whose interests (and deep experience) lie in food security, sustainable systems, and health. The Aetna Foundation agreed, and Mim’s project was funded.

What followed was an experiential, project-based class that Mim taught in the spring of 2015—FST613: Community Research: Food and Health.

Residents of low-income communities may qualify for federal aid known as WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). Having worked for WIC, Mim knew that the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks they are given often went unused. Having read widely about the problem, she had some ideas of why that might be. With her Community Research class and other Food Studies students (including Dani Lyons, whose internship centered around the project), she staged an intervention in Wilkinsburg (a low-income community in Pittsburgh) called CRUNCH! Eat Fresh, Eat Healthy, Move More, designed to address some of the barriers.

In Mim’s class, students read about low-income neighborhoods; alternative food systems; and programs like farmers markets and CSA (community supported agriculture). Despite the well-documented benefits of eating local, sustainably grown foods, these programs are often underused by minorities and by people with lower incomes.

“We have some “out of the box” recommendations for changes the USDA might make.” – Mim Seidel

It’s not hard to see why: for one, farmers’ market food can be more expensive. For another, some vendors at farmers’ markets aren’t prepared to accept the large, purple WIC checks. An individual who wants to use a WIC check at farmers’ market won’t get change. But sometimes it’s unfamiliarity that poses the biggest barrier, and that is what CRUNCH! staged a three-prong intervention to address.

Participants were recruited at the WIC clinic in Wilkinsburg. They explained the study (including its incentives, including gifts like vegetable peelers, measuring cups, and supermarket gift cards in small denominations) to WIC recipients and in just over three weeks, reached their target goal of 200 participants (202 were actually enrolled). Throughout the study, students staffed the WIC clinic, recruited participants, conducted surveys, held demos, led tours, and entered data—a full spectrum of community-based research. One student used the study as an internship; another received funding to serve as research coordinator.

The first prong was the tastiest. “The students held cooking demos at the WIC clinic using fresh vegetables that you can get at a farmer’s market,” says Mim, “and let them taste everything. If your income is limited, you’re less likely to buy what you’ve never eaten and don’t know how to prepare.”

“Also, we’re less likely to go to a farmers’ market if we haven’t been to one before,” she adds. “It’s unfamiliar, and it can be hard to tell which vendors accept WIC checks. The little signs are hard to find.” To counter that, she and her staff provided casual farmer’s market tours for CRUNCH! participants.

Thirdly, CRUNCH! staff connected with leaders of community gardens, and tried to encourage CRUNCH! participants to check them out—both to associate healthy eating with community, and to reinforce their familiarity with locally grown produce.

“We sent bus tickets to all CRUNCH! participants after some participants mentioned not being able to afford the extra ticket, and we also knew that transportation issues are documented in the research,” says Mim.

CRUNCH! would be considered a success if participants showed an increased use of WIC checks, and indeed, the increase was statistically significant: a 46.5% redemption rate compared to 39% by non-CRUNCH! participants, at the same WIC clinic.

“We also want to write this up to be published in a professional journal and present it at a meeting in Toronto,” says Mim, who lists Food Studies students Malik Hamilton (research coordinator) and Leslie Gordon and Christen Dinger (graduate student assistants) as her co-authors.“We have some “out of the box” recommendations for changes the USDA might make.”