Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Dr. Joanne Christaldi said, about appearing on the red carpet for the Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards, “I always like to say, out of bad things, good things happen.”

Christaldi received the Campbell Soup Company’s Healthy Heart Award through her work in the nutrition field, as well as through a sudden loss in her family.

If Christaldi hadn’t lost her mother from a cardiac event a year ago, her nomination by a co-worker for this award probably wouldn’t have happened.

As a nutrition professor at West Chester University, Christaldi focuses on research involving food security and nutrition counseling, specifically through qualitative research.

Recently, the Dean of the College of Heath Sciences funded research for Christaldi to do a study in Coatesville. This study involved nine focus groups of about 90 people total, with three different topics which included: food security, acceptance of food assistance, and food shopping patterns.

The focus groups worked primarily to educate individuals with regards to healthier and more inexpensive foods, as well as food prep techniques. In Coatesville where the study was conducted, Christaldi explained that there is no grocery store downtown.

Ideas were brought up during Christaldi’s research in Coatesville to begin a shuttle bus to grocery stores. Transporting items on public transportation is an issue brought up by many individuals living in Coatesville. This amenity would allow individuals to more conveniently purchase healthier foods. The Brandywine Foundation, Christaldi says, is in great support of implementing this shuttle service.

As a professor of nutrition at West Chester University, Christaldi is in tune to many of the food assistance programs that help people all around Chester County.

“We have a really, really great food bank in Chester County.” She says the food bank, located locally on Route 100 in Exton, has an array of fresh produce and a food prep room where cooking is done. The food bank is also given land by local farmers where workers can grow their own produce for clients of the food bank.

“You could get food assistance every day if you need it.” From food cupboards to the Salvation Army, there is always an emergency food option available to needy families in Chester County.

Christaldi pointed out that it is important to be mindful of the food you donate to food banks. She says it is important that the public is educated about what foods they are donating. If you are donating pasta, you should also donate pasta sauce. Being mindful of decisions like this can make all the difference for a family in need.

Through the research done by Christaldi in the nutrition field, she is able to continuously learn new and innovating topics in the field. The sudden loss of her mother led her to spend more time focusing on heart health and the prevention and management of chronic conditions.

In addition to her research in the field, Christaldi spends time running long distance to keep herself healthy. She has run one marathon and three half marathons and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon.

As the recipient of Campbell Soup Company’s Healthy Heart Award, nobody was more deserving.

Elizabeth Angstadt is a fourth year student majoring in political science with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at EA756657@wcupa.edu.

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