Brown helps ECSU students with fitness, nutrition


Jennifer Brown is both an assistant professor in kinesiology and director of the Vikings Care Food Pantry at Elizabeth City State University.


By Anna Goodwin McCarthy

Saturday, February 23, 2019

As both an assistant professor of kinesiology and the director of the Vikings Care Food Pantry, Jennifer Brown works to help Elizabeth City State University students with both their fitness and nutritional needs.

Originally from Newport News, Va., Brown earned her doctorate in human movement science and applied kinesiology from Old Dominion University after earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education and exercise science, and a master’s degree in exercise science and wellness.

Interested in diabetes research, Brown said she chose a career that would focus on helping people prevent the disease.

One thing that helps is exercise. In fact, she tells her students, “Exercise is medicine.”

“Ten to 15 minutes of daily exercise can make a difference,” Brown said.

Brown walks five miles a day and participates in yoga and strength training to maintain her own fitness.

Using a digital tracker to count steps is an easy way to ensure you are staying active, according to Brown. She uses an Apple Watch to measure how far she walks each day.

Brown also recommends a plant-based diet that includes raw vegetables and fruits and low-fat proteins like chicken and fish.

As part of her research, Brown worked with students last spring on a survey of historically black colleges and universities that gauged nutritional habits, attitudes about health, and risk perception that was accepted by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Helping students think about better nutrition is also part of Brown’s role as director of the Vikings Care Food Pantry, which opened on campus in January 2018.

According to ECSU, the pantry, which is also open to faculty and staff, is part of the campus’ anti-hunger initiative and is designed to help students augment their monthly food budget. It’s located in Room 120 in the R.L. Vaughan building on campus and is open every Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“We are a student-run pantry,” said Brown, who coordinates the volunteer, work study and field experience of students who work in the pantry.

Recently the pantry, which is a part of the North Carolina Campus Compact and the ECSU Sustainability and Resilience Board, received a $10,000 Souper Bowl Drive award for winning the Food Lion Feeds “Collegiate Challenge.” ECSU, one of 18 university campuses across the state taking part in the challenge, won it by raising an average of more than four pounds of food per ECSU student.

According to ECSU, the campus plans to spend the $10,000 fighting hunger in the community.

Brown said the pantry is looking forward to acquiring refrigeration and both stationary and roll-out shelving.

“We are really happy it is going so well,” she said.

Through her work with the food pantry and her university research, Brown hopes to help young adults pursue healthy food choices.

“You do have control over your health,” she said.

For more information about the Vikings Care Food Pantry, email jjbrown@ecsu.edu.