Decision-making can be complex, especially when competing values must be weighed. My early career experience working in the natural foods industry taught me that food decision-making is often fraught. Health, convenience, value($) and cultural/emotional attachments can lead to uncertainty around what values are most important in any given eating/consumption experience. Often, the “best” decision in one realm can be the very worst in another (for instance, the healthiest options may cost the most or take the longest to prepare).
As a graduate student, I became interested in food waste as an unintended consequence of the way that people shop for and consume food. My research on food waste led me to think about the ways that individuals and families manage household resources and the priority given to some values over others in any spending decision. This research connected my two favorite topics: food and household money management (personal finances).
I feel so fortunate that I now get to teach courses in personal finance and food systems. These two topics feel important because they can directly impact student’s lives and the health and sustainability of our communities. I am also fortunate to manage outreach programs for the Take Charge America Institute, including the Take Charge Cats program.
My academic background includes an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, where I studied Public Policy, and an M.S. in Family & Consumer Sciences from the University of Arizona. I am currently ABD in my pursuit of a PhD in Family & Consumer Sciences. My dissertation research focuses on how couples negotiate food provisioning decisions within their households and how the sharing of decisions may lead to food waste.
Areas of Expertise
- Food waste
- Food Systems
- Financial literacy
- Sustainable consumption
- Consumer decision-making
- RCSC 150B2: Money, Consumers and the Family
- RCSC 330: Food Retailing Principles
Helm, S.V., Serido, J., Ahn, S., Ligon, V., & Shim, S. (2019). Materialist Values, Financial and Pro-Environmental Behaviors, and Well-Being. Young Consumers (in press).
Helm, S.V., Ligon, V., Stovall, T., & Van Riper, S. (2018). Consumer Interpretations of Digital Ownership in the Book Market. Electronic Markets, 28(2), 177-189.