Originally from South Central Los Angeles, CA, Yesenia moved into the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects in Boyle Heights, CA, where her pursuit for social justice grew. Yesenia attended Pasadena City College where she gained an Associates Degree in humanities and interned with the City College’s Cross-Cultural Center, she later transferred to the University of California, Davis, where she double majored in political science – public service and communications. In her Senior year at Davis, Yesenia interned with the Western Center on Law and Poverty as the lead researcher on California Senate Bill 250 in which she uncovered school lunch shaming policies impacting school children with debt in California. Her work has led to the successful passage of SB 250, district-wide policy changes within LAUSD, and has served as a framework for advocates seeking legislation against school lunch shaming. Yesenia currently works as an elections research associate where she conducts research on local and statewide office elections and helps build grassroots advocacy tools.
Field placement: Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Yesenia completed her fieldwork with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), a law and poverty center that provides statewide advocacy in advancing laws, policies, and practices that secure economic, racial, and social justice for low-income people and communities. She worked closely with the Benefits unit on handling Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cases, reviewing school district meal debt policies, and supporting grassroots organizers on public charge issues. Yesenia updated MLRI's inventory of school district meal debt policies and researched meal debt legislation in other states. Her research helped serve as a foundation for state legislation focused on K-12 student meal debt.
Policy placement: Center for Law and Social Policy
Hunger Free Community Report
"Strategies to reduce hunger on MA campuses" highlights the many ways MA public college campuses have recognized and are already addressing food-insecurity on-campus. But ending hunger on campus requires a range of sustainable solutions, including expanding SNAP EBT accessibility for students on campus.