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Gemma Donofrio'12 at the Summer Lunch Kick-off event at the Open Door Food Pantry in Gloucester, Mass.
Gemma Donofrio'12 at the Summer Lunch Kick-off event at the Open Door Food Pantry in Gloucester, Mass.

Improving Children's Health in Boston

Children are among the most vulnerable members of our society and this summer, Gemma Donofrio ’12 is working to reduce disparities in health care by participating in an internship at Children’s HealthWatch in Boston. The not for profit organization monitors the impact of economic conditions and public policies on the health and well-being of very young children.

Donofrio, a rising senior and Political Science major at Haverford College, says the organization was a perfect fit for her self-designed internship. “I knew I wanted to spend the summer exploring the issues of inequality in health care, and the dire lack of access to the resources needed for a healthy lifestyle that is felt by many lower income families,” says Donofrio. “I came across Children's HealthWatch while I was researching childhood obesity for my Public Policy Analysis [course] last semester, and was drawn by the organization's commitment to using comprehensive research to improve the status of child health.”

During her internship, Donofrio is preparing a policy paper on the relationship between food insecurity and school readiness, and is working on a brief on the consequences of food insecurity for the U.S. workforce and economy. She is conducting interviews with low-income families in the pediatric emergency room at Boston Medical Center about their children’s health and overall access to resources. In addition, she is working closely with a supervisor to advocate the need for changes through policy reform.

Donofrio is quick to point out, however, that her internship isn’t all work and no play. She recently attended a Summer Lunch Kick-off event at the Open Door Food Pantry in Gloucester, Mass. The festival, which was outdoors and free for the community, was designed to celebrate the start of the food pantry's summer lunch program for the season. While there, Donofrio and her supervisor helped with the kids activities.

The Garden city resident is particularly interested in the U.S. obesity epidemic and its relationship with policy initiatives.  Thus far, she says, the internship experience has taught her the value of connecting academics to real life experience.

- Stephen W Handlon '13

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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