The summer of 2020 found Rosie Mensah booked and busy, featured in numerous speaking engagements to share and educate about the implications that lead to food insecurity and undernourishment. As a registered dietician, she is among a small group of Black professionals in the space.
As the demand for her input increased, she had fears that she was only being asked to speak because her experience was trending.
“Cultural competency is not a trend,” she said.
“This is what should be at the foundation of our work.”
Growing up in Toronto Housing in the west end, Rosie often found herself struggling with food in one way or another. She decided to study it full time, attaining her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at Western University, and her Master of Public Health in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
She was interested in the ways systems of food and health were set up to feed and care for people, and wanted to explore that in her work.
“Food and nutrition are not in isolation,” she said.
“Food is at the core of everything… How can we be in this field without recognizing that?”
For her internship she worked with Food Share, where she learned more about the intersectional implications associated with food insecurity. Later sitting on the board, she was able to see the ways decisions were made in order to execute initiatives that genuinely serve communities. This experience gave her perspective on ways to address some of the challenges of food insecurity.
“So much of what I learned about helping people achieve good health, all the learning applicable to real human beings, came from those grassroots organizations, not from academia,” she said.
She intends to be a part of filling the knowledge gap, by providing her viewpoint and expertise to as many future dieticians and nutritionists as possible. She’s encouraged by the fact that more non-black people are listening to Black voices now and is hopeful to see that trend continue. This fact has put her at greater ease when speaking her truth.
“This is an opportunity to demand diversity, equity, and true inclusion,” she said.
“The population here is so diverse, we need to have a healthcare and food system that reflects that.”
As her popularity increases, she aims to be a voice that folks who look like her can recognize and relate to, speaking to the problems that they too experience. She is energized by the support and momentum of her work, and intends to keep the conversation progressive and forever moving forward.