Name: Lucy Nolan
Title: Executive Director
Organization: End Hunger Connecticut!
Lucy Nolan is the executive director of End Hunger Connecticut! (EHC!), a nonprofit based in Hartford, Connecticut, that is focused on anti-hunger and increasing food security through the avenues of advocacy, outreach, education and research. Lucy has been with EHC! for 14 years, sits on many boards, and was a co-chair of the SustiNet Adult and Child Obesity Task Force and the CT General Assembly’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity. She also is on the steering committee of the Connecticut Coalition Against Childhood Obesity.
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
I enjoy making change for the good. There's a lot to know about this area. I always try to look for how we can improve everyone’s lives. I want to help those who are affected most by health disparities.
We do a lot of work with schools and their policies for access, summer meals, and staff outreach. I’ve been able to see how important the work that we do on school meals really is for a lot of kids, and how these meals can help them excel at school. When I started working on school food issues, there were a lot of discussions on the standards of food. Frankly, there weren't a lot of people who were willing to take on the school nutrition work at the beginning. I started working with the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Nutrition Department to learn about school foods and then stepped in as an advocate.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
I am on a lot of boards and steering groups in Connecticut that focus on childhood obesity, nutrition and standards. I am one of about six people who do a lot of work on policies in these areas in the state. Through these roles on committees, I am a convener, a link to legislature, and I bring ideas to the group. We all work well together. I think that it is vital to be a partner and collaborator to get anything done well.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
My biggest accomplishment is getting the Healthy Food Certification legislation passed in Connecticut which included removing soda from all of the schools. The Connecticut State Department of Education reviews the new nutrition science for food and nutrition standards every two years, and updates the standards for the Healthy Food Certification. Schools can only serve those foods that are on the list, and they get an extra 10 cents per year per meal to make sure that they can meet the new standards and keep their certification up to date. I like to think that the Connecticut bill helped with some of the work on the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.
What do you look forward to most about your job?
I enjoy all of the different people that I get to meet and work with. I work on a lot of different issues. I currently am sitting on the Connecticut Milk Regulation Board, the Connecticut Food Policy Council, the Farmland Preservation Board, the Milk Promotion Board, and sat on The Speaker’s Task Force on Children and the Recession, where I address topics like nutrition, dairy products, farms, summer meals, SNAP and lunch for students.
When I first took this job, I didn’t realize that hunger had so many components. There are so many different parts to work on to make a difference in people’s lives through policy. I enjoy looking at that and seeing what we can do to make a difference to not only get people needed food, but make sure it’s quality food as well. Connecticut has a lot of disparity between the wealthy and low-income communities. I want people to know about it, what is going on, and the implications of it. I try to make the connection between nutrition and success, whether it is income, health or academic success, it’s all tied together. I think that it is always vital that we look at the bigger picture.
What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?
I have always liked fruit, especially watermelon. However, as I was reminded today there’s nothing like a fresh-from-the-farm strawberry! I also love a really good salad.
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