Spring 2017 Blog Series 9 of 10: Nutrition Students Are a Step Ahead in Dietary Employment

If you visit a health care facility, school district, or food bank there is a good chance that an SJSU Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging student is completing an internship. That’s because Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging students are required to obtain an internship working in their field.

When students enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science program, they can specialize in two concentrations which includes a concentration in dietetics or packaging. They can also specialize in environmental food and health, food management, nutrition education, nutrition science and sports nutrition.

“The Dietetics students who go on to become Registered Dietitians have to complete 1,200 hours of accredited competency-based dietetic internship program as well as pass the national Registered Dietitian Examination,” says Dr. Lucy McProud, Chair, Department of Nutrition Food Science and Packaging. “In addition, after completing a dietetic internship, students must take a national exam to become a registered dietitian.” SJSU’s program boasts a 90 percent passing rate on the exam and according to Dr. McProud “all get employed.”

The Nutrition and Food Science program teaches students about nutrition aspects that includes food borne illnesses, diet and disease and community nutrition. If students want to major in the sports field, they learn which foods can help an athlete’s best performance.

Professor Karen Harvey, lecturer, teaches four classes in the program and is also a consultant dietician. She is especially fond of teaching Nutrition 139 Hunger and the Environment. “This class is a current events class where we discuss poverty in our community. Unfortunately, this topic has become more and more relevant,” says Professor Harvey. “Right now there is such a need and so many students are hungry that we have five food banks on campus.”

Professor Harvey has a master’s degree in nutrition specializing in dietetics and also works for Nutrition Therapy Essentials. “Our interns are all over the place,” says Professor Harvey. “By requiring an internship, students can transition to see what the job is all about and if they really want to go in this direction.”

Many universities do not require an internship in a nutritional program. “If students are enrolled in a program that requires them to have an internship, they have a much greater chance of getting an internship,” says Professor Harvey. “And they also have a greater chance of passing the registered dietitian exam.”

Community nutrition class raises money for soup kitchen

San José State University students enrolled in a community nutrition class put their classroom knowledge to the test by planning a fundraiser to benefit a local soup kitchen.

On April 24, more than 100 people attended a fundraiser for Martha’s Kitchen, a community soup kitchen near downtown San Jose, coordinated by students in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts’ Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging department.

Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging students Annie Su, Jovanna Ponco, Anna Dong, Tracey Nguyen and Vi Tran with Martha's Kitchen Executive Director Edita Cruz and their professor, Marjorie Freedman, pose for a photo at the Martha's Kitchen Empty Bowl event.

Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging students Annie Su, Jovanna Ponco, Anna Dong, Tracey Nguyen and Vi Tran with Martha’s Kitchen Executive Director Edita Cruz and their professor, Marjorie Freedman, pose for a photo at the Martha’s Kitchen Empty Bowl event.

The students who are enrolled in Marjorie Freedman’s Community Nutrition class organized the fundraiser, called “Empty Bowls” as part of a service learning requirement for the class. Organizers included Anna Dong, Annie Su, Tracey Nguyen, Jovanna Ponco and Vi Tran. The students raised more than $1,700 for Martha’s Kitchen.

Since 1981, Martha’s Kitchen has had the mission to “feed the hungry with dignity, no questions asked, no judgment made.” The organization has served more than 2.75 million meals since it opened. The SJSU Nutrition students decided to join forces with Edita Cruz, the executive director, to raise money for  the Kitchen’s essential nutrition services.

The students coordinated all aspects of the dinner fundraiser, from soliciting donations for raffle prizes, menu planning, ticket sales and marketing the event. Attendees were entertained by the SJSU Mambo Club, King Library Rockers and the SJSU Polynesian Club. Some of the donations included a signed puck from the San Jose Sharks hockey team and a signed picture from Steve Blake, of the Golden State Warriors basketball team.

The week before the event, the students had raised $900 but only had 10 people signed up to attend the event. They worked with some Nutrition professors to offer attendance at the event as an extra-credit activity or to use the time for a professional meeting. Their last-minute marketing efforts paid off when more than 100 people showed up for the fundraiser.

The students learned how to navigate event planning, solicit donations and learn about marketing while working effectively as a team.

Student Jovanna Ponco said in a press release, “If we had been missing just one team member, the event would not have gone as smoothly and as successfully as it did. As seniors in our last semester of the Dietetics program at San Jose State, we will graduate not only with the skills and experience that we gained through this event, but the bonds of friendship that we strengthened as well.”

The students also thanked Freedman and Cruz for their support in coordinating the fundraiser.