Sunday, March 29, 2015

UMD goes to DTA

Growing up with Annapolis in my backyard, spending a lot of time in Downtown Annapolis (DTA), and looking at the state house from a far, I never truly appreciated everything that takes place in the capital of my home state. I just go there for the dining and shopping! That was until I went there with the University of Maryland Dietetic Internship.

The Maryland Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (MAND) arranged a legislative event in downtown Annapolis. The event, which was held at the restaurant, Harry Browne’s, a place I would go for brunch, counted as a joint class day. The teams were made up of interns and registered dietitians based on living locations. Meetings were set-up with delegates and senators to discuss our stance on certain nutrition-related bills. A few guest speakers provided us with advice on how to speak with legislators.

My team with Delegate Mark Chang
Megan Solloway and I outside the Senate

The second day spent in downtown Annapolis was a public policy day with the University of Maryland interns. The class day started with a history lesson on the state house and what events take place in that building. Learning about the history of the building reminded me of a school field trip although I would certainly pass on the traditional brown bag lunch of a high school student for some steak and seafood at a nice City Dock restaurant.

Some interesting facts picked up from the tour:
1. The stained glass ceilings were designed by Tiffany & Co.  

2.  It is the only state house to serve as the nation’s capital.

3.  The lighting rod on top of the dome was constructed to Benjamin Franklin’s specifications.

Next, we observed the Senate in session and the House of Delegates. As an intern class, we were announced in both sessions. Then, we met with Senator Brochin who was very candid with us and answered any questions we had. He even invited us to observe him debate bills with one of the committees he serves on. The day ended when we met recently-elected Maryland Governor Larry Hogan!  We got the opportunity to briefly chat with him, and he even took individual pictures with each intern. Governor Hogan asked us for nutrition advice now that he has a personal chef. What a lucky guy!  
UMD Dietetic Interns with Governor Hogan

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Weather Calls:An FSNE Experience

My latest rotation included working for two weeks with University of Maryland Extension, Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE). It even reunited me with my internship partner Rory! FSNE is a nutrition education program designed to educate and help recipients of SNAP. FSNE sends nutrition educators to different sites across the state such as elementary schools and community centers to educate children and adults alike.
When working with schools and community centers during a snowy winter season, I learned to always remain flexible. During our two week rotation, several planned experiences were canceled due to inclement weather. Due to snow, ice, slush, and freezing rain, we were forced to switch gears and work from home. While working from home we were given assignments such as blog writing, creating themed Facebook posts, and website review of similar programs. I wrote a blog regarding added sugar in children’s diets and Facebook posts for the month of April; all of which will appear on the FSNE blog and Facebook page.
However, as the temperatures rose and the snow melted away, we were able to travel to different locations and join in on the fun! We traveled with different educators to sites in Frederick County, Gaithersburg, and Baltimore City. While in Frederick County we worked with fourth graders and adult mothers learning to speak and read English. In Gaithersburg we worked with first graders learning to think of seeds as suitcases for fruit; how cute! In Baltimore City we worked with both children and adults.

Whether working with children or adults, FSNE utilizes planned curricula developed specifically for nutrition education. Lesson plans cover topics anywhere from sustainability to eating more fruits and vegetables. We had the opportunity to both observe and co-teach lessons. Together Rory and I taught fourth graders about sustainability and living green with a tasting of green vegetables. We also co-taught a class of adults about eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables.

FSNE is a quick two week rotation. But, like I stated in a previous blog, quick does not mean the experience is not as valuable as others. Instead, it means you have limited time to maximize your experience. As an intern, you must show initiative and say yes to the opportunities presented. Only then, will you be able to take full advantage of your experience.  

Working with children was fun and rewarding as was working with adults. I learned something different from each group.  I learned even more from the educators.   The two weeks I spent at FSNE was time well spent and a lesson well learned! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

DC Central Kitchen: Working With the Community.

            At this point in the internship, we are nearing the end.  It’s hard to believe how fast the weeks have gone!  As I look ahead to our exciting future, I can’t help but reminisce about my first few rotations. 
Let me take you back to one of our community rotations at DC Central Kitchen.  The staff works with individuals to provide healthy meals, future jobs, reducing hunger, and so much more!  I was so excited to take part in this initiative.  I had many eye-opening days that I will truly never forget.  I’m going to talk through some events we participated in; however, these are only a few provided by this wonderful facility. 

Healthy Corners

            Healthy Corners is a program that my partner and I were able to work directly with.  They focus on bringing affordable, healthy food products to convenient stores to help low-income communities and food deserts and/or swamps.  Essentially, they are selling smaller amounts of healthy food to the stores to increase accessibility. 
            My preceptor took us to a Healthy Corners event.  The event was providing free HIV and Hepatitis C testing, handing out goodie bags filled with healthy food items, and raising awareness.  I helped conduct surveys to participants, to gather and share related information on the program.  Many of the individuals were enthusiastic about providing their positive input on Healthy Corners!  We also shared the "Better for you Brownies" with participants.  They were a big hit!  I was able to strengthen my communication skills by jumping right in during the event.

Here we are helping our preceptor at a Healthy Corners community event.

Culinary Job Training

            The Culinary Job Training program provides students with a chance to become educated, and eventually work, in the food service environment.  My partner and I had the incredible chance to actually teach one of the classes.  Our class focused on whole grains and healthy shopping on a budget.  The class was filled with 8 extremely attentive students.  We provided them with the lesson content, quizzes, and answers to any questions they had.  I was so lucky to help empower the community members by providing useful nutrition content.

In this picture I am teaching a Culinary Job Training class.

Working in the office

            Our work at DC Central Kitchen included many hands on activities in the community.  However, some days we worked “behind the scenes” in the office.  My partner and I had so much fun creating activities to teach nutrition, including fat demonstrations in specific food products, Jeopardy games, and monthly newsletters.  We also worked on a PowerPoint focused on poverty and food deserts right here in Washington D.C.  This presentation was later presented to a class of college students to increase awareness. 

This was a fat demonstration to use in later educational classes.

Whether we were out in the field or behind a computer screen, DC Central Kitchen provided an irreplaceable opportunity.  During the UMD Dietetic Internship you will get your feet wet in so many areas of nutrition ranging from community settings, clinical, food service, and informatics.  My one piece of advice that carries through all rotations: Be open to any and all opportunities! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It’s Not Just Clinical: The Technical Side of the Internship

It is hard to believe that just one year ago I had submitted my applications, checks were mailed, and interviews were being scheduled. I was initially intrigued by the University of Maryland College Park dietetic internship for its widely diverse rotations and “information technology” focus. I thought technology? Hmm… I like working on computers, learning the mechanism behind things worked, and knew technology was an integral part of the future.

Up until now my internship time has been filled with 12+ weeks of clinical experience and shorter rotations in between. I recently just finished my rotation at the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC), working specifically with the SNAP-Ed Connection team and really learned how nutrition and technology go hand in hand.

I spent five weeks working with the SNAP-Ed team learning how to code, develop new pages for their website, perform resource reviews, attend conferences, and research materials for web pages. The SNAP-Ed Connection website is a great resource for state and local snap-ed providers, educators, and consumers. I learned html coding and was able to design nutrition information pages about food preparation and cooking for all ages. As a future registered dietitian, having webpage development skills and a nutrition background can be a great marketing tool. When I was first provided with the upcoming projects I would be working on, I would be lying if I say I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t know how to code or interpret Google analytics, but I do know how to listen and manage my time, which was key in being successful.

Using Google analytics, I was able to track site traffic and hits and depict the reasoning for certain spikes or falls in views. After uploading new materials, we are able to quantify data to make future decisions on the work site for better or worse. Although working on the technical side of things doesn’t involve patient interaction, I was able to see how my work truly made a difference when users emailed the team thanking them for new materials and describing the helpfulness to their classes even from behind the screen.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Producing a Meal for the Masses: A Grecian Island Getaway

            My time spent at Riderwood Village, a retirement community home in Calverton, Maryland, has gone quickly. Five weeks ago my internship partner Chandler Ray and I embarked upon this journey hoping to learn as much as possible about foodservice production in a kitchen restaurant. We have had many jobs while working here including working as kitchen staff members doing various tasks around the kitchen, serving on the buffet line in the Windsor Restaurant, and planning a theme meal that we hosted on Friday March 6th. We have enjoyed meeting residents, staff members, and planning our meal!

Choosing the theme of the meal was the first crucial decision to be made in the production process.  Chandler and I both love the beach and the ocean so we immediately brainstormed places with beautiful beaches. In the end we chose to use the islands of Greece as our theme, entitling our meal “Grecian Island Getaway.”

The next step was to create a menu for the meal. This entailed researching the Grecian islands and their typical cuisine. After two days of research and planning we decided upon our menu:

Once the menu was chosen, theme meal planning went into overdrive. We produced flyers, handouts, and even a TV commercial to help market the meal to the residents of Riderwood. 

Recipes were converted to yield enough food for the 120 people we aimed to serve! Meals were analyzed for nutritional value and as a unique touch we provided the residents with a gluten-free menu; we did this to accommodate the requests of several residents who desire to reduce gluten in their diet. A grocery list was created, food was bought and ordered, and production schedules were created to help keep us on task throughout the final week before our meal.

The week before the meal we spent our time chopping vegetables (I smelled like an onion the entire week), butchering meat, planning, making, and buying our decorations, and prepping and cooking our dishes. Snow threatened the success of our efforts but communication and acceptance between Chandler and I played a key role in making the day run smoothly. We also couldn’t have done it without the help of our kitchen staff!

The day turned out great! Our goal was to serve 120 people and we ended up serving 130! The entire process of planning the meal required patience, flexibility, and hard work. I have newfound perspective on what it is like to work with the elderly population and what it is like to work as a kitchen restaurant employee.

Pictures below are from the theme meal!