Roni directs the CLF's Food System Sustainability and Public Health program and is an Assistant Professor in the Bloomberg School’s Environmental Health Sciences department and Health Policy and Management departments. Her work focuses on food system sustainability and resilience. She is engaged in multiple research projects on the issue of wasted food. Other topics of interest include farm policy, climate change and food system resilience, food system worker health, meat consumption, and framing connections between food systems and public health.
Roni developed the first-ever textbook on food systems and public health on behalf of the Center. She teaches two courses: Baltimore Food Systems: A Case Study in Urban Food Environments and Food System Sustainability Practicum. Both are service-learning courses, and Roni was a SOURCE Service-Learning faculty fellow in 2012-2013. Roni also manages the Center's research programs.
Roni grew up in Queens, New York, and obtained her AB from Brown University. She worked in public health practice and policy for ten years, pausing midway for a Masters in Health and Social Behavior from the Harvard School of Public Health. She then obtained a PhD in Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School before joining the CLF in 2006. She previously directed the Center’s policy program. While the topics of her public health work have varied, her commitment to social justice and environmental sustainability are threaded throughout. She eventually came to see food as the perfect vehicle to bring together these concerns (and others) for the long-term.
Roni values working within an academic center because it allows her to focus on specific projects while simultaneously engaging in the range of issues her colleagues are working on, and because it gives her the opportunity to work with so many wonderful students.
Outside of work, Roni can often be found playing with her sons or tending to her urban garden, compost piles, and thousands of pet worms. She says that parenting and gardening have enhanced her work at the Center, and vice versa.
Roni Neff, PhD, MS
Food System Sustainability & Public Health Program
"In our society we focus so much on the individual, but a big part of what led me into this field was the desire to focus on systemic, policy, and unexamined cultural contributions to public health problems. We tend to blame people who waste food, farm in unsustainable ways, or are obese, but we need to understand what is really going on. We need practical solutions, and we also need a broad social commitment to address root causes."
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