Torto headshot

Emerson Fellow

Niisoja Torto

27th Class, 2020-2021

Niisoja graduated from Duke University, where he studied public policy with a focus on health and nutrition policy. His Ghanaian heritage and experience growing up in Florida inform his interest in equity issues. Niisoja’s particular passion for food and nutrition solidified with his senior thesis that explored the role of food assistance in addressing overweight and obesity. He has conducted heart disease community-based research in rural central Uganda, where he worked alongside community health champions to develop a heart disease prevention program that still runs today. Niisoja has also provided high-level nutrition policy support as an intern at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, where he authored the main text of a report of the UN Secretary-General.

Field placement: Chicago Food Policy Action Council

Chicago, Illinois

Niisoja's work at the Chicago Food Policy Action Council (CFPAC) centered on reimagining Chicago's food-related social safety net. Through CFPAC's diverse collaborations with people working in and affected by the food system, Niisoja was exposed to many of the strategies that Chicagoans have adopted to improve food access. This exposure, matched with his review of innovative models from across the U.S., informed a report exploring the opportunities for local government to improve food access and champion food sovereignty.

Policy placement: FoodCorps

Niisoja worked with FoodCorps, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all school children have access to healthy food. He supported FoodCorps' policy work by connecting the on-the-ground experiences of service members and partners to the policy context at the state and national levels. His storytelling pieces covered farm to school initiatives, school meals and child nutrition reauthorization.

Publications & Blog Posts