Andrea Cantarero, a graduate student studying nutrition at the University of New Mexico College of Education in the Department of Individual, Family and Community Education (IFCE), has won first place in the Oral Presentation Competition for Graduate Students for his presentation titled “The New Mexico Food Atlas: Development of a Food System Data Warehouse and Mapping Service,” at the Agri-Science Education for the 21st Century conference in Miami, Fla.

The conference provides a platform for education leaders, agency professionals and students to share best practices in current teaching, research and workforce development relating to food and agriculture.

Cantarero, a semester away from receiving a dual master’s degree in nutrition science and public health at UNM, is a member of the New Mexico Community Data Collaborative (NMCDC), an organization that develops and shares neighborhood data with local organizations that promote community assessment, child health and participatory decision making. With online, interactive maps covering every neighborhood of the state, NMCDC delivers visual status reports on countless social and health issues in NM. The exploratory nature of the maps engages users to ask better questions and provides guidance for reforming policies and practices.

“The Food Atlas project is an exciting example of where my two universes intersect and I get to do both nutrition and public health,” Cantarero said. “The award in Miami was a pleasant surprise but I really think of it more as an endorsement of the work itself. People responded really well to our story map example of how this atlas can be used to make better food policy decisions here in New Mexico.”

Cantarero is part of the NMCDC team (Tom Scharmen, Sarah Haynes and Larry Heard), working on the development of a food system data warehouse and mapping service called the New Mexico Food Atlas which aims to comprehensively describe local food environments from a socio-ecological perspective. To this end, NMCDC has been compiling a number of food-related data sets from federal, state and local agencies along with community partners. An interactive draft of the mapped endeavor, “Food Environment, New Mexico” is available through the NMCDC website.   

“This is a large undertaking for such a big and beautifully diverse state, so we are always looking for interested partners to share in our work – whether that be in the form of shared data or simply feedback and guidance,” Cantarero said.

For a variety of other health and social topics in New Mexico, visit Interactive maps

The Nutrition and Dietetics Program, offered through IFCE at the College of Education, seeks to improve the overall quality of life for New Mexico citizens by improving nutritional status. Students in the program conduct research that adds to both basic and applied nutrition knowledge, and learn to use and/or conduct research with the goal of improving dietetics practice. The program provides the environment for students to develop professional attitudes, maturity and an ethical understanding of professional practice.