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Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH

Mariana Chilton

Health Management and Policy, Center for Hunger-Free Communities
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PhD, Folklore & Folklife, University of Pennsylvania
MPH, Epidemiology, University of Oklahoma
MA, Folklore & Ethnography, University of Pennsylvania
AB, History and Literature: Latin America, Harvard University


Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH, is a Professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. She is the Director of Dornsife's Center for Hunger-Free Communities, a community-engaged research and advocacy center focused on developing solutions to the challenges of hunger and economic insecurity.

Dr. Chilton founded Witnesses to Hunger, a movement to increase women's participation in the national dialogue on hunger and poverty. She is Principal Investigator of the Building Wealth and Heath Network, which is designed to incentivize entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and a former Principal Investigator of Children's HealthWatch, a national research network that investigates the impact of public assistance programs on the health and well-being of young children and their caregivers.

Her research publications address trauma, food insecurity and the advancement of the human rights framework to advise the right to food in the US.

She has served as the Co-Chair of the Bi-partisan National Commission on Hunger, where she was appointed to advise Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture on how to end hunger in America.

She has testified before the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on the importance of child nutrition programs and other anti-poverty policies. She has served as an advisor to Sesame Street and to the Institute of Medicine. Her awards include the “Nourish Award” from MANNA, the “Unsung Hero Award” for Improving the Lives of Women and Girls from Women’s Way and the Young Professional Award in Maternal and Child Health from the American Public Health Association.

Her work has been featured in the documentary A Place at the Table, and in the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, public radio, CBS National News, among many others.

Dr. Chilton received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma, and Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.

Research Interests

  • Nutrition
  • Community Engaged Research
  • Health Disparities
  • Health Policy
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Mental health and Behavioral health
  • Urban Health
  • Violence and Trauma
  • Human Rights
  • Food Insecurity


§ = Senior/mentoring author

* = Indicates students from the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University

Gallegos D, Booth S, Pollard CM, Chilton M, Kleve S. Food security definition, measures and advocacy priorities in high-income countries: a Delphi consensus study. Public Health Nutr. 2023 Oct;26(10):1986-1996. doi: 10.1017/S1368980023000915. Epub 2023 May 5. PMID: 37144401; PMCID: PMC10564592.

Weida E,* Egan V*, Chilton MM. How trauma-informed programming to treat social determinants unveils challenges to systems alignment. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. May 2021; 32(2):654-663.

Joseph SR,* Voyles C,* Williams KD,* Smith E,* Chilton MM. Colonial Neglect and the Right to Health in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria. Am J Public Health. 2020;110(10):1512-8.

Dugan J, Booshehri LG, Phojanakong P,* Weida E,* Bloom S, Chilton MM.§  Effects of a trauma-informed curriculum on depression, self-efficacy, economic security, and substance use among TANF participants: Evidence from the Building Health and Wealth Network Phase II. Soc Sci Med. 2020;258:113136.

Weida EB*, Phojanakong P,* Patel F,* Chilton, MM.§  Financial Health As A Measurable Social Determinant Of Health. PLOS One, May 2020.

Phojanakong P,* Welles S, Dugan J, Booshehri L, Brown Weida E,* Chilton MM.§  Trauma-Informed Financial Empowerment Programming Improves Food Security Among Families With Young Children. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2020;52(5):465-473.

Chilton MM, Jones S. The Rights of Nature and the Future of Public Health. Am J Public Health. 2020;110(4):459-460.

Phojanakong P,* Brown Weida E,* Grimaldi G,*, Lê-Scherban F, Chilton MM.§  Experiences of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Are Associated with Food Insecurity and Poor Health. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22),

Gaines-Tuner,* Simmons J,* Chilton MM.§ The public health imperative to improve wages and end stigma: Recommendations from SNAP Participants. American Journal of Public Health, November, 2019.

Voyles C,* Chilton MM.§  Respect, Protect, and Fulfill—or Reject, Neglect, and Regress? Children’s Rights in the Time of the Russian “Gay Propaganda Law.” Health and Human Rights Journal, 2019.

Ettinger de Cuba S, Bovell-Ammon A, Cook JT, Coleman S, Black MM, Chilton MM, et al. SNAP, Young Children's Health, and Family Food Security and Healthcare Access. Am J Prev Med. October, 2019.

Drennen CR, Coleman SM, Ettinger de Cuba S, Frank DA, Chilton MM, et al. Food Insecurity, Health, and Development in Children Under Age Four Years. Pediatrics, 2019.

Jackson DB, Chilton MM, Johnson KR, Vaughn MG. Adverse Childhood Experiences and Household Food Insecurity: Findings From the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health. Am J Prev Med. 2019.

Tang MN, Ettinger de Cuba S, Coleman S, Heeran T, Sandel M, Chilton MM, et al. Maternal place of birth, socioeconomic characteristics, and child health in US-Born Latinx children in Boston. Academic Pediatrics, Sept. 2019.

Rose-Jacobs R, Ettinger de Cuba S, Bovell-Ammon A, Black MM, Coleman SM, Cutts D, Chilton MM, et al. Housing Instability Among Families With Young Children With Special Health Care Needs. Pediatrics. 2019;144(2).

Weinstein L*, Turchi R, Klassen A, Chilton MM, et al. Reaching for a Healthier Lifestyle: A Photovoice Investigation of Barriers to Healthy Living in People with SMI. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 2019.

Purtle J, Le-Scherban F, Wang X, Brown E,* Chilton MM. State Legislators’ Opinions About Adverse Childhood Experiences as Risk Factors for Adult Behavioral Health Conditions. Psychiatric Services, July 2019, DOI: 10.1176/

Ettinger de Cuba S, Chilton MM§, et al.  Loss Of SNAP Is Associated With Food Insecurity and Poor Health In Working Families With Young Children. Health Affairs. May 2019.

Alberto C,* Chilton MM§. Transnational Violence against Asylum-Seeking Women and Children: Honduras and the United States-Mexico Border, February 2019, Human Rights Review.

Gallegos D, Chilton MM. Re-Evaluating Expertise: Principles for Food and Nutrition Security Research, Advocacy and Solutions in High-Income Countries. 2019. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16(561) DOI: 10.3390/ijerph16040561.

See Dr. Chilton's complete list of publications on PubMed