Author: Amalia Sordo Palacios, junior
This summer, I was a research associate for a study led by Dr. Acevedo, Dr. Ross, and Dr. Azhar from Fordham’s Graduate School of Service in collaboration with the BronxWorks food pantry. Established in 1972, BronxWorks is a nonprofit organization with locations all across the Bronx that has grown to serve over 60,000 people in 2020 by providing numerous services to families and individuals, including immigration services, workforce development, housing assistance, youth education, and nutritional assistance. Along with the other undergraduate students Olivia Youngblood, Hasib Mia, Ver Sogueco, and Camila Da Silva, I surveyed food pantry clients to hear about their experiences during the pandemic and learn about the impact COVID-19 has had on food insecurity throughout the Bronx.
After taking Dr. Acevedo’s Bronx Exploration seminar as a freshman and reading South Bronx Battles: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Renewal by Carolyn McLaughlin, the former executive director of BronxWorks, I was excited for the opportunity to engage with and work alongside the nonprofit that we had learned so much about. I began the summer hoping to gain a better understanding of public health research and community-engaged work through my hands-on role as a Research Assistant.
While I did learn a lot about qualitative research, the most memorable aspect of this project was the relationships that I formed. After a year of being at home and taking classes remotely, it felt really special to be back in the Bronx and meeting new people face to face. As a Spanish speaker, I connected with immigrant clients from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other Latin American countries and was fully attentive to the stories that they shared during the surveys.
I am especially grateful for the support and wisdom imparted to us by Dr. Azhar, Dr. Acevedo, and Dr. Ross. They were always excited to share their research interests, current projects, career/life advice, and experience in academia with us. The staff at BronxWorks was also incredibly welcoming to our team and inspiring in their dedication to their work. I am excited for the next stage of the research project and hope that the results will be able to support BronxWorks as they continue their mission of empowering individuals and families in the Bronx community.