Please join us in welcoming Natalie Cruz as the new co-chair of NAFSN's Leadership Circle!
When speaking with Natalie, one cannot help but notice her incredible passion and knowledge for all things food, nutrition, and wellness. She brings to NAFSN over a decade of experience in food and food systems and an impressive background in advocacy and nonprofit work. As the founder and CEO of Coolinary Kitchen from 2012 to 2017, she equipped children and their parents with the tools necessary for healthy eating. In addition, Natalie served as the Food 4 Life Program Manager at Lantern Community Services from 2017 to 2020. In that role, she educated young adults who had aged out of foster care on food justice, food shopping, budgeting, and cooking. Currently, Natalie publishes a newsletter, Food for Thought, where you can find her reflecting on food, identity, and culture. She is also at work on an Afrolatin cookbook.
With an extensive background in the culinary profession, Natalie hopes to offer a different perspective and foster a more inclusive food systems worldview: "I'm excited to work with NAFSN because I come from a different background than most folks in food systems...I've found that there aren't that many people from the culinary world who know what food systems are or are involved in them. I want to link the bridge [between the culinary and food systems professions] for myself and for others, and to invite people from other backgrounds."
Natalie's commitment to creating better, more equitable, and more inclusive food systems aligns perfectly with NAFSN's ethos of interdisciplinary collaboration and problem-solving. Her enthusiasm, infectious joy, and years of on-the-ground experience are sure to serve NAFSN well.
"I'm really excited to join this team. I'm coming to the space in a total collaborative form. I hope to expand upon what NAFSN has already started," Natalie says. "By coming from a different background, I hope to help open some of those doors and link those connections."
Natalie will succeed Abby Wyatt. We extend our deep appreciation to Abby Wyatt for her outstanding leadership.