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Mahood Takes Home Economics Beyond the Home

While Foods and Nutritional Sciences’ lab instructor Lucy Mahood may have been shocked when she received the Ontario Home Economics Association Founders Award, the rest of the Brescia community felt no surprise. Since earning her BASc in Applied Human Nutrition at the University of Guelph in 1981, Mahood has been balancing her presidential role on the London Home Economics Association (LHEA) with volunteering for other organizations such as the YMCA and Heart and Stroke Foundation. She also provides freelance cooking classes to the London community and teaches foods and nutrition labs at Brescia. Awarded for her ongoing contributions to the field, Mahood has certainly made significant advancements in the nutritional knowledge of Brescia students and the surrounding area as well as in the professional field of home economics.

One of the most significant contributions she has made to the field has been raising awareness of how home economics has changed over the years. In the ’90s Brescia changed the name of its home economics programs to human ecology in an attempt to discard the feminine stereotype the program had acquired. Regarding the role of women in the field today Mahood scoffs, “This is not a woman’s role. This is everyone’s role!” Today men are often buying groceries, cooking meals, and taking children to extracurricular events while women are choosing to focus on their careers. Male enrolment in Human Ecology programs has grown just as it has spiked in global home economics. World renowned James McIntosh (a prominent male home economist) from Britain is a case in point. Mahood believes that home economics is no longer just looking after the family. She affirms, “It means looking after the entire community. It is a proactive promotion of health outside of one’s own home.”  Home economics has also become a respected science, with education focusing on topics such as nutrition, food safety, dietetics, and consumer behavior. These are not terms that one typically hears within a home but they are heard – loud and clear – in industrial kitchens, hospitals, marketing firms, and other centres of business. As we all embrace healthier lifestyles it is natural that home economics is no longer considered to be “a woman’s domain.”

Knowing that her field extends beyond the home and family, Lucy has incorporated community outreach into her own life and her students’ lives through volunteering with the London Home Economics Association (LHEA). Mahood sees the future of the association in Brescia’s Student Human Ecology Association (SHEA) members. As one of the faculty advisors for SHEA, Mahood acts as a mentor and networking facilitator for the association. Members have had opportunities to apply practical and theoretical skills by hosting the national Association of Canadian Human Ecology for Students conference in 2009, launching the SHEA Professional Success Series certificate program in 2011, and taking part in various community events. With such an inspiring mentor to look up to, it is certain that our SHEA members will follow Mahood’s lead in developing the future of Foods and Nutritional Sciences for this region and beyond.

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Brescia SHEA web site

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