Lopez headshot

Emerson Fellow

Rachel Lopez

10th Class, 2003-2004

Field Placement:  USDA Western Regional Office, California Food Policy Advocates, and Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (Los Angeles, CA)

Rachel worked to improve the rate of participation in the Food Stamp Program in Los Angeles County by examining customer service, access barriers, and accountability.  Currently, only slightly more than one-half of low-income households eligible for the Food Stamp Program in California are actually receiving food stamps.  Rachel collected data about the processes of the county offices administering Food Stamps and experiences of applicants and county workers that affect participation in the program, developed strategies to best improve participation, and evaluated the project to determine what successful methodologies could be used in other large metropolitan areas to improve participation in the Food Stamp Program.

Hunger Free Community Report:

Serving Up Solutions: A Guide To Customer Service And Expanding Access To The Los Angeles County Food Stamp Program, was designed to assist local and national partners to increase participation in the Food Stamp Program by improving customer service.  The report documented best practices and recommended improvements to County procedures for outreach, accessibility, courtesy standards, application process, and complaints and appeals.

Policy Placement: Corporation for Enterprise Development (Washington, DC)

Rachel supported CFED’s entrepreneurship and economic development policy initiatives targeted at low-income communities, specifically Rural and Native American entrepreneurs.  She contributed to the design and implementation of the first national rural entrepreneurship demonstration designed to catalyze effective systems of support for rural entrepreneurs across America.  She is also developed an independent research project that aims to identify ways that tribes and Native non-profits could capitalize on the Indian Arts Market while maintaining their independence and cultural autonomy.

Pre-Fellowship Education/Experience:

Rachel is from St. Petersburg, Florida and graduated from Northwestern University with honors in 2003.  She majored in Political Science, Sociology, and International Studies and studied European Union Studies in Paris, France.  While serving as student body president of Northwestern, Rachel created the Eva Jefferson Civil Rights Program, the first campus-wide Thanksgiving Dinner, the first annual Community Action Fair, and the Alumni Speaker Series.  She has spent summers interning at the Red Cross in the Disaster Services division, working at a Fortune 500 insurance company, and serving as a teacher and caretaker in an orphanage in Colón, Mexico.