WOOSTER, Ohio – Paige Clay, a rising senior at The College of Wooster, was selected as a member of The Policy Academies’ 2020 Academy Class, a cohort of six young scholars who will conduct research for various think tank partners this summer, it was announced by TPA. Clay is the lone Academy Fellow from a small liberal arts school.
Clay, double majoring in political science and Africana studies at Wooster, is researching the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), specifically its restrictions on healthy food access in food deserts, defined as urban areas where it is difficult to purchase affordable, high-quality fresh food. Her successful research proposal and interview with TPA took place during the spring semester while she was studying abroad in Sweden.
“I plan to compare those who live in a food desert to those who don’t, in regard to cost of healthy food options and the health of the beneficiaries. I will utilize the SNAP policy database ignorer to collect data on the policy restrictions and beneficiaries,” Clay explained. ”The goal of my research is to show that SNAP restrictions need to be changed due to inaccessibility of healthy foods, specifically for those in food deserts. Ideally, the results of my research would be used to expand the scope of policies under SNAP and help fix the disparities within them.”
The work was set to take place at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., however, the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the experience into a virtual one for Clay back home in Denver. “I wanted to collect data from SNAP beneficiaries in person, but now I will use some online databases. Although the pandemic is impacting my experience, I still believe this internship will be very enlightening and enhance the research skills that I’ve gained while in college,” she said.
Having developed a passion for public policy since coming to Wooster, Clay looks forward to what she will uncover and may even carry over the research into her senior Independent Study project. “For my junior I.S., I focused on how the control and exploitation over the black body has negatively influenced public policy around their social conditions. I’d love to continue the summer research … into my senior I.S. if possible, or try and combine this idea with my previous one. Overall, I feel so excited and blessed to have received this opportunity and I can’t wait to dive into my research project,” stated Clay.
Founded in 2016, the Policy Academies states its mission is “to build and sustain meaningful diversity in public policy analysis and research by: cultivating the policy careers of young scholars and working with leading policy institutions to ensure research practice is grounded in racial equity and economic justice.”