Skip to main content


Associate Professor

Roni Neff, PhD '06, ScM, researches ways to cut food waste and address climate change through more resilient, equitable, and healthy food systems.

Contact Info

615 N. Wolfe Street, Room W7009

Research Interests

Food system; food waste; resilience; climate change; sustainability; workers; food donations; food insecurity; equity; COVID-19; environmental justice; policy; communication; service-learning; Baltimore; history; qualitative
Experiences & Accomplishments
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Harvard School of Public Health
Brown University
I research wasted food, food system resilience, and food worker issues through the lens of public health and equity. I am a co-PI of a new NSF-supported research network addressing wasted food, through which I will lead evaluations of food waste solutions in schools and local governments, teasing out typology factors affecting how interventions play out differently in different contexts; work with a cohort of food workers to co-create and examine impacts of worker-led interventions; and explore interconnections between food system resilience and food waste. My other food waste projects include serving as PI of an INFEWS (food-energy-water nexus) study assessing resource use and waste across the US seafood supply chain; and working with a team in Albany, NY to study the lifecycle environmental and health impacts of fruit/vegetable food rescue.

During the pandemic, I have served on the executive team for the National Food Access and COVID Research Team (NFACT), co-leading US and Maryland food security surveys; and my colleagues and I performed a COVID-related survey of U.S. food system workers. My team (led by Erin Biehl) has been building on our pre-pandemic food system resilience work and new pandemic insights, to develop tools to help local governments strengthen their food system resilience to climate change and other threats. We are also performing analyses to better understand determinants and indicators of resilience.

I engage with public health practice and with broader food system issues in my role as a program director at the school's Center for a Livable Future, an academic center focused on food systems & public health. I teach a community-engaged seminar course, Baltimore Food Systems: A Case Study in Urban Food Environments and co-teach an online course, Food System Resilience to Disasters: COVID-19, Climate Change and Beyond. I am co-leading a new doctoral track focused on Environmental Sustainability, Resilience and Health, and I co-direct the school's MPH Concentration and Certificate program in Food Systems & Public Health. I edited the first textbook on the US food system, Introduction to the US Food System: Public Health, Environment, Equity (Wiley-Jossey Bass, 2014).

**Note: I have a funded PhD slot for a candidate interested in food waste/food rescue in the U.S. Applicants from under-represented backgrounds strongly encouraged. Due 12/1/22.
Honors & Awards
Excellence in teaching, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2010 - 2021
Delta Omega Award for Innovative Public Health Curriculum – Second Place, for Food System Certificate (co-leader of certificate), 2017
Faculty Excellence in Service Learning Award, SOURCE, JHSPH 2014
Champion of the Month, May 2014, SOURCE, JHSPH
SOURCE Service Learning Faculty Fellow, 2012-13
Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society, Alpha Chapter, 2007
Victor P. Raymond Award in Health Policy, 2003
Select Publications
Below are some of my most recent first- and last-author publications, and one from a recent National Academies panel on which I served.
  • National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine, Committee on a Systems Approach to Reducing Consumer Food Waste. 2020. A National Strategy to Reduce Wasted Food at the Consumer Level: A Consensus Study Report. Board on Environmental Change and Society. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.
  • Ceryes CA, Robinson J, Biehl E, Wirtz AL, Barnett DJ, Neff RA. Frequency of workplace controls and associations with safety perceptions among a national sample of U.S. food retail workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 63:7, 557-64.
  • Neff RA, Hecht AA, Zaltz DA, Pate PR, Neelon B, O’Neill JR, Benjamin-Neelon SE. Preschool healthy food policy did not increase percent of food wasted: Evidence from the Carolinas. Nutrients. 2020, 12(10), 3024;
  • Turvey C, Moran M, Sacheck J, Arashiro A, Huang Q, Heley K, Johnston E, Neff RA. Impact of Messaging Strategy on Consumer Understanding of Food Date Labels. 2021. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior 53:5, P389-400.
  • Ceryes CA, Antonacci CA, Harvey S, Spiker ML, Bickers A, Neff RA. “Maybe it’s still good?” Supermarket workers’ experiences of food waste reduction, recycling, and rescue efforts. Appetite. 2021. June 1; 161: 105111.
Food waste national consumer survey
Southwest Baltimore Supermarket Intervention
Longitudinal study of pathogen exposure and CAFO worker health
Protein consumption, environment and public health
Urban Food System Resilience
Wasted Food
Food + COVID-19 Community of Practice + indicators
National Food Access & COVID Research Team (NFACT)
Food system workers and COVID-19 survey
Nutrition policy for healthy meals in early childhood: Impacts on diet quality and food waste