Nutrition Professor April Engel Promotes Nutrition Through Pooky’s Pantry — Faculty Highlight

By Dani Moritz-Long

Food is life for April Engel — but not in the overindulgent way it is for some of us. Quite the contrary, actually. For April, a nutrition professor on East Campus, April’s passion for food revolves around reducing hunger and promoting health and nutrition.

“I have been a registered dietitian for 23 years, and my interest in nutrition began with a love of food and eating,” she said. “I also believe in engaging in healthy habits, such as eating healthy, to try to reduce our risk of chronic diseases that can cut our life expectancy.”

As part of her efforts to promote healthy eating, April has partnered with the Valencia Hunger Charge Committee to reduce hunger and malnutrition among Valencia students.

“I decided to join the Hunger Charge Committee because I am the only full-time nutrition faculty member on East Campus, and I believe that my job extends way beyond the classroom,” she explained. “Hunger and malnutrition can greatly affect a student’s academic performance, and I feel it is my duty to help combat this huge problem among the Valencia community as much as possible.”

To accomplish this, April is utilizing her Chesley Magruder Foundation Chair in Allied Health to improve Valencia’s food pantry, Pooky’s Pantry, through education, marketing and expansion. Paramount to this effort will be the purchase of a refrigerator for East Campus’ pantry, which April hopes will increase student access to healthy, whole foods.

“Purchasing a refrigerator will allow for the donation and storage of healthier, but more perishable foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, so we can enhance the nutritional quality of the foods provided,” she explained. “Funds will also be used for better marketing and awareness of the food pantry to try to reach all students in need.”

Furthermore, April is currently mentoring two Seneff Honors College students on research projects pertaining to nutrition. One student is researching hunger relief organizations and programs outside the College, which will be used to create educational materials for Valencia students who frequent Pooky’s Pantry, and the other is studying the food costs of healthy and less-than-healthy food choices. This information will also be used to educate Valencia students, particularly those looking to implement a healthy diet on a tight budget.


  • Ozella Knox said:

    Thank you April! I am a big fan of the service provided by Pooky's Pantry here on West campus. A refrigerator would be amazing for this campus as well. Thank you for being an advocate for health and nutrition and promoting this valuable resource for students and employees.

    PMWed, 25 Oct 2017 14:15:41 +0000Wed, 25 Oct 2017 14:15:41 +0000pm17,2:15 pm

  • Susan Howard said:

    Love the article….you are a valued member of our hunger charge committee!

    AMThu, 26 Oct 2017 07:33:47 +0000Thu, 26 Oct 2017 07:33:47 +0000am17,7:33 am

  • Carol J. Millenson said:


    I love the intentional integration of your expertise and long history of work promoting healthful nutrition as a critical means of fighting disease. Our students benefit so much from Pooky's Pantry and your vision to expand its outreach through both practical and educational ways is very exciting!


    PMFri, 27 Oct 2017 12:36:34 +0000Fri, 27 Oct 2017 12:36:34 +0000pm17,12:36 pm

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