December 20, 2016
Frida Endinjok has discovered that eating healthy is one of the most important investments. Now, she’s helping other students to understand this concept.
It wasn’t always the case, but these days Frida Endinjok lives by the motto, “You are what you eat.”
She’s discovered how eating healthy is important both physically and financially— a healthy diet will save you money in unnecessary future medical bills and stomachaches — and as a family and consumer sciences (nutrition and dietetics) major she’s working hard to educate and inform other California State University, Northridge students.
“People do not understand the importance of food. Healthy eating should be a priority,” she says. “It is what keeps you going.”
Frida’s relationship with food didn’t have a great start. When she was six, her parents divorced, and she moved to Mexico with her mother. Being raised by a single mother was not easy.
“My mom had to work all the time,” Frida says. “She didn’t have time to cook. Out of necessity, I had to feed myself, so I grew up to be pretty independent.”
Things changed for her in high school when she was noticed by a modeling agency. Although she was healthy, she felt pressured to loose weight and adopt some dangerously restrictive dietary habits like starving herself to fit into a size 0.
Fortunately, her close friends noticed the change. Her boyfriend at the time, whose dream was to be a chef, started cooking for her, and Frida quickly realized that she needed to find a better balance with food. She also fell in love with cooking.
“Food has so much other context, and it is like a relationship,” she says. “If you treat food and yourself right, you will have a healthy happy life. You get something out of it.”
Eventually, Frida returned to the United States to pursue higher education. Initially, her plan was to explore culinary arts as a chef, but a nutrition class in community college revealed another vocation. Now her dream is to help others understand the importance of healthy eating and a healthy relationship with food.
Frida further promotes her passion in her role as a peer financial mentor with CSUN’s Financial Aid & Scholarship Department. The Peer Financial Mentoring program was created to educate students about financial literacy topics.
“As peers, the topics that interest us will most likely interest other students,” she says.
Since groceries are a major financial struggle for many college students, Frida teaches ways to eat healthy without blowing the budget.
Started in spring 2016 through a Campus Quality Fee grant by Professor Yi Cai, acting chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, the Peer Financial Mentoring program hosts weekly financial workshops, one-on-one mentoring and special educational events.
The program hosts events such as “Cooking on a Budget” in which the mentors explain what a budget is and provide tips on how to create a successful budget and demonstrate cooking recipes with healthy and inexpensive ingredients like mango salsa.
“Students should prioritize their budget for food” she says.
In addition to her work as a peer financial mentor, Frida is a BUILD PODER and University scholar, and the president of CSUN’s Food Recovery Network chapter. She works at the Marilyn Magaram Center as a research assistant and coordinator for the Let’s Grow Healthy project, which teaches nutrition and gardening to children. As well, she enjoys spending time at the wellness garden located in the Sequoia Hall courts. She’s also the recipient of several scholarships.
After finishing her undergraduate degree in 2018, Frida hopes to attend graduate school and obtain a Ph.D. in public health.
“I’d like to come back to CSUN and teach one day,” she says.