There are a number of ongoing projects in what I’ve learned to affectionately call the Good Lunch Lab. The first of three projects that I worked on, PhillyRESPOND, aimed to promote the acquisition and carrying of Naloxone (Narcan), the overdose reversal drug. The goal of PhillyRESPOND is to reduce the risk of overdose deaths in Philadelphia through the promotion of Naloxone acquisition and carrying. By gathering perspectives from a diverse set of individuals across the city, we hoped to better understand the motivators behind Naloxone acquisition and carrying. We also hoped to create a platform to share real life stories of how these individuals have been impacted by the opioid epidemic, which will also serve as a way of promoting Naloxone acquisition and carrying. We conducted over forty interviews across Philadelphia, asking residents about their experience with the epidemic, their understanding of Naloxone, and their feelings about carrying Naloxone themselves. We compiled those responses to create the story-sharing platform, which is almost ready to be published and accessible to everyone.
The second project, funded by the CHERISH foundation, was an exploration of the impact of Pennsylvania public libraries on community health. The project entailed the formulation of interview questions that assess how libraries impact their local communities in terms of summer meals and overdoses. Questions ranged from asking about Narcan training for library staff to whether or not the libraries provided full meals during the summer months. We piloted those questions via phone calls to randomly selected libraries in other states, and based on the effectiveness of those interviews, made the appropriate changes to the questions. From there, we started the project by calling Pennsylvania public libraries, and it has since been ongoing.
Finally, the third project was an exploration of food insecurity among Penn employees. My part in this project was to examine recent literature on the subject of food insecurity among working adults in the United States. In particular, my focus was geared toward people working in the medical field, as preliminary research done in connection with our lab focused on staff at Penn Medicine. From that, I found that not much literature on the subject exists, hence why we need to explore it further.
By participating in these projects, I gained ample experience in qualitative data analysis and oral communication. I was also given an immersive introduction to public health, the field of which I am interested in entering after graduation. I now understand that public health is a multidisciplinary field of study, as it works in conjunction with many other fields and organizations. For example, community health is not just the concern of the health department, but also of local libraries, hospitals, academic institutions, etc. Fostering partnerships between these entities in crucial in order to ensure that community health needs are met. By working on these projects, I have a much better understanding of how to do so.