My title is Sandra Kraeuter Kops, and I function the president and science director of Vitamin Safety Options, Inc. (NSS, Inc.). I used to be born and raised in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. After attending faculty at Case Western Reserve College, I went to graduate faculty at Cornell. I studied pre-med sciences with the intention of finally turning into a doctor, however as I continued in my schooling, my biggest love was for the laboratory and for scientific investigation. I ended up conducting biomedical investigations at Yale for a few years.
My biggest ardour as a researcher was at all times the function of vitamins in mobile metabolic processes each regular and pathological. I had a particular love for mechanical issues, together with many sorts of microscopes, and that led me into the fascinating, hidden world of mobile biology. However when funding for my analysis evaporated, I needed to shift gears. For a few years, I taught biology and diet at small native faculties, although I by no means discovered this as personally gratifying as my former analysis profession.
In 2017, issues started to vary for me as soon as once more. As a member of the Davenport Residences’ board of administrators, I witnessed meals insecurity in a approach that was new to me—I noticed that most of the aged and/or disabled senior residents in our group didn’t have sufficient meals to eat—and so I began a small meals pantry. This system initially served 28 seniors, then expanded to 150 residents (roughly half of the resident inhabitants). We’ve continued to serve these seniors, together with all through the time of the Covid-19 pandemic; we grew to become a nonprofit entity (NSS, Inc.), and we’ve got since expanded our companies into different communities in southern Connecticut.
NSS, Inc.’s chief mission is to proceed satisfying the essential human want for meals, and to take action from the distinctive perspective of science-based programming. Our meals pantry packages are distinctive in that scientific method, which we use to make sure that our companies are 1) empowering and client-led, 2) nutritionally related, and three) in a position to account for situations of poverty (now outlined as social determinants of well being).
Our new eCommerce initiative, for which we acquired funding from the T. Colin Campbell Heart for Vitamin Research’ Community Grants program, is one instance of how we try to higher serve our communities. By using eCommerce, we’re permitting for higher selection, which makes an enormous distinction within the lives of those senior residents. It additionally presents a lot of challenges, however we’ve got developed clear methods for addressing these difficulties.
For example, a lot of our seniors are frightened of utilizing pc expertise, and due to this fact require variety, affected person help when inserting their orders. To make this even simpler, we’ve additionally partnered with the Connecticut Library System, which sponsors on-site tutorials for these needing IT help. To ease issues about cyber safety, we’ve got additionally created instructional hand-outs that may be offered by on-site volunteers.
The thrilling factor about integrating eCommerce into our operations is that it permits us to do our jobs higher, and it permits the folks we’re serving a extra customizable expertise. For instance, since we launched this expertise, there was a major lower within the variety of orders for animal-based meals.
The members in our meals service packages have been so glad with this transformation that a few of them have begun to contribute small donations to NSS, Inc. in order that we are able to buy extra various meals, together with almond milk. On the similar time, buying brokers at CTFoodShare (a regional meals financial institution) have offered extra vegan meals, which could be ordered utilizing fewer buy factors; in impact, which means residents can order extra meals by choosing various meals.
Change is troublesome for any undertaking, and it may be particularly troublesome when serving aged purchasers, however we’re actually enthusiastic about this new initiative. Because the science director of NSS, Inc., I’m drawing on connections that I made throughout my years as a scientific researcher. It’s been actually satisfying to deliver my vocational abilities to serve the mission of this nonprofit. Meals pantry companies are so vital to communities across the nation, and it’s a privilege to have the ability to enhance these companies. Because of continued funding, our work is turning into much more sustainable.
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