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Global Food Initiative

The UC Office of the President established the Global Food Initiative (GFI) and developed a fellowship program to support it. The GFI efforts at UC Merced have been geared toward food security, health, and sustainability.


The Nutrition Outreach Fellow will lead the development of education initiatives aligning goals of Basic Needs programs with those of campus partners such as Health Promotion, Community Nutrition Lab, Dining, Social Justice Initiatives and more.


UC Merced's Global Food Initiative Campus Collaborative Center

UC Merced's Global Food Initiative (GFI) Campus Collaborative is a UC-wide effort, funded by the UC Office of the President, to create a central coordinating space to support and nurture innovative research, outreach, and extension projects to solve challenges related to food system, health, and sustainability. 

The UC Merced Campus Collaborative is focused on facilitating research, coordination, communication, and improvement of food and food security-related resources on campus and in surrounding San Joaquin Valley communities.

In January 2021, five faculty and graduate students were awarded Grow Grants to work on food systems, food security, and food sustainability research across the three schools at UC Merced.

The current co-leads of UC Merced's Campus Collaborate are Karina Diaz Rios (UC Cooperative Extension Specialist) and Denise D. Payan (Assistant Professor of Public Health). Other members of the team include:

GFI Fellows

Meet the change-makers of UC Merced's Global Food Initiative Fellowship. Explore the diverse backgrounds and impactful projects of these dedicated individuals shaping a sustainable and equitable food future.


Tyler Hooks

Hello, I'm Tyler Hooks. I’m a second-year student at the University of California Merced, where I'm majoring in Environmental Engineering. It is a long-term goal of mine to work as an environmental consultant and apply environmental engineering principles to enhance carbon sequestration, minimize resource consumption, and promote a healthier, more sustainable environment. My role in the GFI. My role in the GFI is assisting in surveying farmers to gather data on agricultural practices they use, helping conduct data analysis on this data, and doing lab testing of soil samples.


Teddy Stamatkos

Hi there, my name is Teddy Stamatakos. I am a first year Management and Business Economics and Political Science dual major from San Francisco, California. My research as a Global Food Initiative Fellow involves campus and community outreach in regard to environmentally sustainable practices and healthy living through my positions as a senator in student government and the president of the Agriculture Club here at UC Merced. Working with various organizations on and off campus we are creating educational materials, outreach initiatives, and a community that embraces the benefits of California's Central Valley agriculture.