Demetria Cox-Thomas


Name: Demetria Cox-Thomas
Residence: Charlotte, North Carolina
Degree: Human Nutrition, graduate student

Demetria Cox-Thomas learned to love growing and cooking food from her father who encouraged both.

His passion became her passion and it has evolved so that she wants to find community solutions to food insecurity. Access to quality food should be available to everyone, she said.

“My dad was the cook of the house so he's the reason why I loved vegetables as a child and love to cook now,” said Cox-Thomas, a human nutrition graduate student. “I loved seeing where the vegetables came from and thought it was cool that it was in my backyard in the middle of Charlotte.”

Her dad, Robert, encouraged her curiosity by letting her participate with his projects. He answered her questions and engaged her by letting her water the garden and check on the plants' growth.

“I also helped store the excess garden food and do simple cooking tasks such as stirring and seasoning,” Cox-Thomas remembered.

Her dad advised her to grow and store food so she could always have food to eat. Their family grew enough extra food so they did not need to rely on the grocery store for fresh vegetables, and also could enjoy vegetables out of season.

Cox-Thomas still has a garden today. What does she grow?

Okra, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, kale, cabbage, swiss chard, sweet potatoes and white potatoes.

Her future plans include completing her dietetic internship to receive her registered dietitian credential so she can work in the field on projects that connect nutrition and gardening.

The pandemic has caused her to slow down to take things one day at a time and to extend grace to herself. When she was an undergraduate at North Carolina Central University studying hospitality and tourism, she said she was anxious and excited to be done for her degree competition in 2008 so she could start her career.

“Slowing down during my graduate degree has allowed me to enjoy the process, rest more, learn new skills and reconnect with my creativity,” she said.

Cox-Thomas recently received a $5,000 Commission on Dietetic Registration Diversity Scholarship, thanks to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. She has earned other scholarships and awards from three different groups.

A member of Winthrop's Human Nutrition Student Advisory Board, she is involved as a student member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on the national, state and local levels.

She sees the value of getting involved in each. “I think it's important because all three levels offer diverse opportunities to be engaged, to network and to learn,” she said. “Local involvement is easier to access and a great place to start making the greatest impact. State and national involvement exposes you to other people making a huge impact in other areas and provides a space to share ideas and grow community.”