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MPH Students Utilize Multidisciplinary Skills to Support AIDS Care Group

Photo of food pantry unloading fresh produce

January 10, 2023

Houssam Joudi, MPH student in the department of Community Health and Prevention, and Riana Tuwaidan, MPH student in the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, each completed their Dornsife School of Public Health Applied Practical Experience at AIDS Care Group (ACG) based in Southeastern PA.

ACG provides comprehensive and compassionate clinical care and social services to persons living with leading public health conditions including, but not limited to, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, mental illness, and opioid use disorders. ACG is dedicated to serving populations adversely affected by stigma, poor access to care, discrimination, and poverty.

Joudi and Tuwaidan worked closely with preceptor Guadalupe Diaz, Goodwill Ambassador, who works in ACG's Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania location. Diaz and colleagues run a health food pantry that recently expanded to not only meet the needs of those who receive care at ACG, but residents in the surrounding communities.

“Leadership at AIDS Care Group has a strong belief that food is medicine and because of that belief the H.E.A.L.T.H. Food Pantry began its mission to help the community with food insecurity,” said Diaz.

In addition to helping alleviate food insecurity, ACG provides organic, nutrient rich foods free from additives that are tailored to the needs of those they serve. When recipients are battling an illness like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes, nourishing foods are essential and therapeutic. ACG collects donations from places like Whole Foods Market, Mom’s Organics, and Swarthmore Co-Op. The pantry also leverages Door Dash to reach members of their community who live with disabilities or who lack access to transportation.

When Joudi and Tuwaidan began their Applied Practical Experience at ACG in the fall, they both hit the ground running. They helped with day-to-day operations and assisted Diaz and the team with implementing new ideas to improve the overall pantry experience.

H.E.A.L.T.H (Helping Everyone Attain Longevity Through Healthy) Foods Pantry logo featuring apple graphic

Joudi primarily took on a project management role while Tuwaidan used her graphic design skillset to produce marketing deliverables for ACG. They helped to rename the pantry “H.E.A.L.T.H (Helping Everyone Attain Longevity Through Healthy) Foods Pantry” and developed a new logo (pictured at left) that fit within ACG’s existing brand identity.

Through this experience, Joudi and Tuwaidan saw firsthand the multidisciplinary nature of public health. “They both brought skill sets with them that I don't think any of us were aware would be put to use during their internship at ACG,” shared Diaz.

“The field of public health requires a multitude of skills, which was apparent during the applied practical experience. This was something that Guadalupe emphasized. I hope to continue to use my experiences to further my budding career in public health,” said Tuwaidan.

"I was able to integrate my experiences and perspectives into our priorities and goals when approaching this APE. Focusing on listening to the voices of our collaborators — those formulating and implementing resource distribution, but more importantly those of our community members — will allow both ACG and The H.E.A.L.T.H. Foods Pantry to continue evolving to adequately address the needs of those we seek to serve. I look forward to continuing to engage with such impactful organizations like ACG into my future public health and medical career,” said Joudi.

This year marks four years of collaborating with ACG, and Dornsife’s Center for Public Health Practice leadership look forward to an ongoing partnership.

“Organizations like ACG are a critical component of our student’s public health education. They give our students opportunities to gain practical experience in addressing critical public health challenges in real world and real-life settings under the guidance of professionals that believe in the work that they do. Organizations, such as ACG, enable our students to be better prepared for a career in public health and public service,” said Tariem Burroughs, Director of Experiential Learning and Career Services.

Learn more about Dornsife’s commitment to public health practice.