A Path to Impact: Sarenda Powers’ Nutrition Internship with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon

Sarenda Powers, MScN (’23), discovered the power of collective action and community engagement through her NUNM Nutrition Capstone project where she interned with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon (PHFO). She worked alongside Venus Barnes, PHFO’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Organizer.

Nutrition Capstone Project Leads to Supporting Access to Food

Sarenda chose to align her Master of Science in Nutrition Capstone Project with PHFO’s vision for an Oregon where everyone thrives with access to affordable, nourishing and culturally appropriate food. She was particularly drawn to the team’s unwavering support and understanding for one another. Mental health was prioritized through paid emotional and mental relief days to ensure a supportive work environment that acknowledged the emotional toll of working with individuals who have experienced trauma. 

Learning the Ropes with Guided Mentorship 

Sarenda’s mentor, Venus Barnes, played a pivotal role in navigating her through the intricacies of grassroots organizations. Barnes extended the opportunity for Sarenda to shadow her throughout the workweek, immersing herself in internal meetings across the entire nonprofit landscape. She not only offered support, but also equipped Sarenda with items like a ‘cheat sheet’ of acronyms specific to the realm of public health nonprofits. “I could approach her with any inquiry imaginable,” Sarenda confided.

Sarenda worked alongside Barnes, the PHFO All-Staff Caucus, various community partners and government representatives to advocate for marginalized communities and bring about meaningful change. During her internship, Sarenda created digital content to raise awareness about food-related issues, such as flyers for the PHFO virtual town hall to address the reduction in Federal Pandemic Food Stamp Benefits (P-EBT).  

The exposure from Sarenda’s internship reinforced her passion for supporting those disproportionately affected by food insecurity, such as single-mother households and individuals facing systemic discrimination. 

“It’s not even just about eating. It’s about surviving and having enough food is just one aspect of that.” 

Sarenda is looking forward to working with other groups or non-profit organizations, such as Feeding America, Oregon Food Bank or PHFO to create lasting change on the federal level.  

NUNM’s Master of Science in Nutrition (MScN) program offers to help you navigate the broad and dynamic field of nutrition with real-world experiences and skills. For more information about MScN curriculum and degree opportunities, talk to a NUNM Admissions Counselor today.