SAFE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Kelly Ann Renwick

Dr. Kelly Ann Renwick, Assistant Professor, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund Recipient: Spring 2023

Project: "High Country Food Insecurity Project"

Dr. Renwick received a Spring 2023 Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) grant to incentivize participation in her study, titled the "High Country Food Insecurity Project." The study seeks to understand the rates of food insecurity, the usage of food assistance programs, and diet-related poor health outcomes among Latino/a/x communities in the North Carolina High Country.

According to Renwick, the ultimate goal of the project is to implement a food security intervention that will actively support greater food security and opportunities for previously food insecure households to always fill their kitchens with food. The study will be conducted in three phases: surveys, interviews, and an intervention. Renwick is collaborating with researchers from App State's Department of Nursing, Meredith College's Department of Department of Nutrition, Health, and Human Performance, and the Local Environmental Agriculture Project.

The grant allowed the team to purchase 20 $50 gift cards to give to interview participants. "The funding that provided these gift card incentives is going to make a big difference in someone’s life. We are working with people who are food insecure and often have to skip meals or watch their children go hungry. In exchange for hearing their stories and life experiences, we are giving them a $50 Walmart gift card that they can spend on groceries. These gift cards mean a household has an opportunity to fill their kitchen with food," shared Renwick.

Originally, Renwick's team was planning to conduct focus groups. However, they switched to interviews after reviewing the literature. Renwick explained, "The literature tells us that among the Latinx population interviews are more likely to make participants more comfortable to speak freely." 

Rachel Goehner, junior global studies major from Rockingham, Virginia and CAS Corps member, serves as Renwick's research assistant for the project. Renwick shared how the study has provided Goehner, who hopes to enter the healthcare field in Latin America in the future, with valuable experience. "I know her medical Spanish has become much stronger from this project and she has gained a lot of experience in watching how research is designed and implemented," wrote Renwick.


About the SAFE Fund
Initially endowed by Hughlene and Bill Frank, the College of Arts and Sciences Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund provides resources that can be used to support undergraduate, graduate and faculty experiences. The SAFE Fund provides funding for college priorities and opportunities that arise throughout the year. These unrestricted funds support student and faculty travel, publication support for faculty and student research opportunities. Learn more at:

About the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in four program areas: Appalachian studies; gender, women’s and sexuality studies; global studies; and interdisciplinary studies. The department is also home to Watauga Residential College, an interdisciplinary, alternative general education program. The department promotes creative and imaginative engagement through a cross-disciplinary investigation of complex systems and problems. Learn more at

Written by Lauren Gibbs
February 1, 2024

Dr. Kelly Ann Renwick, associate professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
Published: Feb 1, 2024 7:50am