Alekya graduated with honors from Loyola University Chicago in 2017 with a degree in biology. During her time at Loyola, she developed her passion for food justice by regularly volunteering at the local soup kitchen and interning at Purple Asparagus, a non-profit nutrition education organization. After graduation, she served as a FoodCorps Service Member in Columbia Falls, Montana where she collaborated with various stakeholders to implement and strengthen a hands-on nutrition and garden education program in two schools. She also served on the board of Farm Hands Nourish the Flathead, supporting community programs and events that connect people in the Flathead Valley region to fresh, local food.
Field placement: Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative
Alekya completed her field placement at the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) at the University of Arkansas, an organization dedicated to enhancing health in tribal communities by supporting food sovereignty and economic development through research and education. In her role, Alekya worked to support IFAI's efforts by creating data visualizations to supplement educational materials that the organization distributed. She used GIS and Tableau to organize, analyze, and present data relevant to tribal agriculture and food systems. Alekya worked on visuals for the Farm Bill Policy project and the Model Food Code project, both of which aimed to strengthen tribal food systems through policy and law.
Policy placement: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Hunger Free Community Report
"Nutritional Value and Health Impacts of Traditional Native American Foods: A Literature Review" summarizes the nutritional value and health impacts of consuming traditional foods for Native American peoples through themes including nutritional content, medicinal qualities, physiological and psychological benefits. The discussion on traditional foods is an essential element in the overarching conversation on food sovereignty and rebuilding indigenous health.