Free food, cooking demos, and fun activities: National Nutrition Month is finally here, and the University of North Florida is ready to for the festivities to begin!
UNF is very fortunate to have five registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) with specific responsibilities that encompass nutritional wellness on campus. A RDN is a trained and educated health professional that helps inform individuals about how they can improve their health by eating nutritious foods. An important component of improving and maintaining nutritional wellness involves increasing consumer awareness. RDNs do this by reaching out to the public on a variety of social platforms by holding events and workshops. To do this, RDNs everywhere hold special programs to get the word about good health and nutrition.
For decades, National Nutrition Month has been taking the nation by a storm. In the 1970’s, a call to action was initiated by what was formerly known as the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Some of the first themes that National Nutrition Week took on are “Invest in Yourself—Buy Nutrition” in 1973 and “Nutrition $aves” in 1974. In 1977, the ADA created “Nutribird”—the cartoon character that knows health starts with nutrition. The animation was depicted in such a manner that it’s head was made of lettuce and had a carrot for a beak. Eventually, Nutribird lost support from dietetic professionals. National Nutrition Week later evolved into a month-long production in 1980 after public interest gained traction. The theme during 1980 was “To Hit Your Stride . . . Eat Smart,” putting an emphasis on the important of diet and exercise. In the 1990’s, the ADA turned their focus to what the demands of the consumer. In 1992, the theme “Eat Right America!” became the slogan for NNM and remained for three years. This later became the new slogan for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) website. The 2017 theme was “Put Your Best Fork Forward” and this year we are very excited to announce the theme will be “Go Further with Food,” which will emphasize fueling your body based off your needs and going further with your food in a home or community-based setting.
National Nutrition Month is more than just informing the public about the importance of eating healthy. It is thirty days of activities and celebrations to emphasize all aspects of healthy living and engaging in the community. Issues such as food waste, food insecurity, and food inaccessibility are prevalent in many different communities. RDNs act during times like National Nutrition Month to shed light on and increase awareness of these problems. RDNs will also perform cooking demos, hold teaching kitchens, offer grocery store tours, give out recipe cards, and do Q&A for the public to provide interactive and low-cost services for a variety of populations.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists have a variety of occupations and responsibilities. Clinical dietitians often work at hospitals or clinics and provide information for patients that may require special dietary needs. Dietitians can also work as food service managers at hospitals, schools, the military, or even prisons. Food service managers will often oversee large-scale food service operations and work with high quantity food menus and ensure that all food preparation, storage, and distribution is safe for the individuals, like those that have food allergies. Dietitians in private practices own their own business and can have a variety of different responsibilities including nutrition counseling. There are also sports dietitians that work with professional athletes to help ensure they are eating healthy, so they can perform well. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars have a sports dietitian! Dietitians can also be nutrition counselors for schools, like the University of North Florida. UNF has five dietitians: Yemila Lowry, Dining Services Dietitian; Callie Stewart and Kelly Schooley, Wellness Dietitians; Holly Pudwill, Counseling Center Dietitian; and Teresa Steele, Student Health Services Dietitian, specializing in diabetes education. As you can see, we have a lot of dietitians at available to the students at UNF serving their community’s needs and helping make the campus a more nutritious place to be.
Here are some highlighted events happening in March from UNF Dining Services:
1. Picnic on the Green, March 1, 11a-2p.
Come kickoff National Nutrition Month with us on the Green, located by the Fine Arts Center and The Library. We’ll be serving Tandoori Chicken Burritos with a savory side of quinoa tabbouleh. Free food, the warm sunshine and great company will make this day a blast! RSVP is not required, just show up!
2. Fresh and Local Market Day, March 7, 10a-2p
Nothing is better than fresh AND local produce, especially here on campus. Swing by Market Day and select seasonal fruits and veggies for a very low cost. Come out and support your local garden, the UNF Ogier Gardens!
3. Pick Your Own Salad, March 9, 11a-12p
That’s right! You are going to be harvesting your own salad at the UNF Ogier Gardens! Enjoy the beautiful day with great company and receive a FREE mason salad jar when you attend the event. Bonus: come learn how to make your own fresh dressings from our campus executive chef! No RSVP is required.
4. Registered Dietitian Day, Market Day, March 14, 10a-2p
Every year dietitians are honored and recognized for their hard work and willingness to give back to the community. Come celebrate with us at Market Day and meet all the campus dietitians that serve you! We will be handing out our superfood of the month, hosting a cooking demo, playing games, handing out prizes, and more!
5. Nutrition Expedition, Campus Wide, 11a-1p
Come hitch a ride with the dietitian on her golf cart! She’ll take you anywhere on campus, whether it’s to your dorm, car, or to class. All you have to do is answer her nutrition trivia and in return you’ll be dropped off at your destination PLUS you’ll receive free $dining dollars$! Follow her on Instagram @OspreyDietitian to see where she’s at around campus and DM her for a ride!
6. Whole Grains Day, Market Day, 10a-2p
What’s all the hype about whole grains? Find out at Market Day and receive free food samples of our quinoa and other savory grains. Chat with the dietitian and executive chef and learn how to incorporate this fiber and protein rich food group into your diet!
Lastly, with the assistance of the Department of Recreation and Wellness, an icon to indicate a healthy meal on campus has been developed and created, known as the Certified Healthy Osprey Icon. This icon will be published around campus at various dining locations to help guide students towards making healthier options. Because, the healthy choice should be an easy choice! The icon is currently at the Osprey Café, Chop’d and Wrap’d, and Jamba Juice. Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A coming soon, so stay tuned!
We hope to see you at most of our National Nutrition Month events in March. We want to bring more awareness of why nutrition is important and how easy it can be to live a healthy lifestyle, even as a college student. For any information, concerns or questions, please contact Yemila Lowry, RDN.
As always, Stay Healthy Ospreys!
Yemila Lowry, RDN, LDN
Registered Dietitian | University of North Florida
UNF Dining Services | Office: 904-620-2247