What I Did During my Summer "Vacation"

Katelin Hudak

In Her Own Words, Third-Year Public Policy Student Katelin Hudak Explains How She Put Her Knowledge to Work for Low Income Communities.

I have been working with Dr. Racine in the College of Health and Human Services on research related to federal food assistance programs.  Some of her research has related to the accessibility of healthy food for low-income populations, and the availability of approved vendors for food benefit redemption. Through this research, I had the opportunity to work at the corporate headquarters of a national chain that is often found in low-income communities. My role was to assess the viability of becoming an authorized vendor for a federal food assistance program. I worked with another intern to research the state-by-state policies for becoming an authorized vendor, evaluate the product options and infrastructure of the national chain in terms of meeting state vendor requirements, and begin addressing the gaps identified between vendor requirements and the chain’s systems. I worked with a financial analyst to investigate the potential return-on-investment of becoming an authorized vendor. When this national chain moves forward to become an authorized vendor, many low-income populations will have better access to stores in which to redeem their food assistance benefits. Program participation and benefit redemption may increase if participants find that this store fulfills a need and provides a more convenient, accessible option.