Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hunger Action Los Angeles

Happy weekend, nutrition nerds!

I went to an incredible meeting yesterday morning and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.  I attended the Hunger Action LA monthly meeting with several of my fellow dietitians-in-training and some amazing organizations working to diminish food insecurity issues across Los Angeles.

Ever had one of those experiences where you hear someone say your thoughts outloud?  It was beautiful to hear walk-the-walk (not talk-the-talk) nutrition, public health, grassroots, and non-profit folks describe all they had accomplished and all that was left to be done.  I was especially excited because, as part of my new job, I will be connecting organizations like these with students in my program.  Remember my post from last week where I talked about finally using my Master of Public Health degree (in the context of my new degree)?  This was another one of those moments.  Instead of sitting in a classroom hearing about nutrition resources that have been established, I was out there learning about what was left to be done.  This is where nutrition students should be - active in grassroots efforts, making real changes, educating the public with practical tips, and learning through hands-on experiences (far beyond the competencies required by a Dietetic Internship).  It gave me inspiration on why and how to connect with them in the future.

I'm so grateful for this clarity!

Before I wrap up, I just wanted to highlight these organizations and some of their efforts:

  • Re-Imagining Empty Space - Bike through areas to see for yourself how much empty space can be utilized for positive, healthy purposes.  Then meet to discuss ideas for each space with those who can make a difference (free dinner!) - March 12 and 15, 2011
  • Food For Lunch - Working on added sugar issues with LAUSD (even collaborated with Jamie Oliver).  Their canteen (instead of "cafeteria") idea was really impressive!
  • Proyecto Jardín - Community garden that runs a CSA!  Irene has such an incredible spirit and needs committed volunteers.  They're part of the CA Endowment-funded Boyle Heights Collaborative.  They meet at 1718 Bridge Street (the corner of Bridge St and N Boyle Ave) on the third Thursday of every month from 3:30-5:30pm.
  • Comment period for Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs - Comments are possible through April 13, 2011.  School food service operators are likely to comment on how expensive, time-costly this is.  Let's comment on how nutritionally beneficial, not to mention proactively financial, this is!
Please check them out! Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Guest Post - Nutrition Round Up: The Healthy-on-a-Budget Edition

Factual Fridays Guest Post on Healthy Men Today

Everyone can eat healthy on a budget. Don’t believe me? Here are tips and tricks from some of the best.

An Oxymoron or The Way of the Future? Food Stamps and Organic Foods

I was inspired this week by Jenni Grayson’s incredible article of practical tips for eating organic on food stamps in the Huffington Post. It is one of my favorite articles ever written on the subject of healthy eating on a budget. Food stamps – called SNAP nationally and CalFresh in California – has become a reality for more people as times get financially more difficult across the country. While programs like FSNEP publish healthy eating education materials on a regular basis, Jenni’s tips reign supreme for me. I highly recommend that you click through each of the links she includes. Each and every one is unique, useful, and a money saver! Here’s a rundown with a few of my own links:

Jenni will be putting her tips to the test and writing a follow-up column. I hope you’ll stay tuned with me for an update! (And, no, I don’t just love her because she has the best name ever ;)

Still Need More Tips? 30 Ways in 30 Days

Imagine how much of an improvement you can make in your food budget with just a few of these 30 tips from the CDC. Just in time for March’s National Nutrition Month)! I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites:

Do you think you can eat healthier on a budget? If not, what do you think stands in your way? If so, what are your favorite tips?

Jenn Jackson, MPH
The Nutrition Nerd

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guest Post - Nutrition Round Up: The Groceries Edition

Factual Fridays Guest Post on Healthy Men Today

This will be the first in a weekly series including the ever evolving changes in promoting health and nutrition. This week’s focus is on the successes, and contradictions, of healthy food options.

Walmart Community Nutrition

The largest food chain in the country (by far!) has partnered with Michelle Obama to begin a system of change: building stores in current food deserts, reducing produce prices, and reducing sodium and sugar in some processed foods sold at Walmart. Can this industry food giant change the landscape of grocery shopping and redeem itself?

Junk Food Banks

Times have been hard for a majority of Americans in recent years, and the need for assistance from local and regional food banks has also increased across the country. While grocery stores are improving the nutritional quality of their foods, they are donating their not-so-healthy food items to local food banks. Does this strike anyone else as counterproductive?

Goodbye To An Era

If the predictions are correct, the era of cheap food is coming to a close. As the world’s population grows, so do food demands. As subsidies turn grain crops into processed foods and alternative energy sources, prices increase. How can we make changes to prevent this and who will implement them?

Mandate 100% Truthful Labels

What a concept! This is one of the central ideas of Mark Bittman’s Food Manifesto for the Future. Imagine the products that companies would have to make in order to obtain the best in truthful labels. Now remind yourself how little truth labels tell us now. If we do take a giant step and regulate truthfulness in food labels, who will come up with the rules?

McDonald’s 2.0

What if the brains (and money!) behind the most famous fast food chain in the world decided to open a new restaurant, except that this time it would be “healthy.” Trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup will be banned and all menu items contain less than 600 calories. Using fast food profits for good? Too good to be true? This article from the Huffington Post describes the controversy that is Lyfe Kitchen.

When looking at all of these news stories together, is each initiative doing enough to facilitate measurable change in healthy food options? Or, akin to greenwashing and pinkwashing, are these deceptive ways to give the appearance that they are making a difference while still turning a profit? Will we ever know until it’s over? Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Hi nutrition nerds!

As usual, I'm still updating the Tumblr daily.  Beyond that - the winter quarter is in full swing!  It's been a very busy month of packing, moving, and unpacking but the end is in sight!!  As the boxes disappear and my new apartment becomes less cluttered, I feel my mind becoming less cluttered as well.

So what has happened over the last month?
- I got a job as a Graduate Assistant with my school's Community Nutrition track.  I get to help shape the program and encourage my fellow students to get out and do the work we spend so many hours talking about in class!

- I am using my MPH degree more now within the context of my MS/DPD program than I ever used it in my previous "public health" jobs.

- I am completing field hours for my Community Nutrition class, while also seeking "out of the box" volunteer opportunities.  I can't wait to share my thoughts on these experiences.

- I may have found my future DI internship - or at least two ideal options!  Has anyone else explored the Distance Learning option?  I'm looking into that as one of my options.  Now to find an RD who can help me implement my ideas!

I hope this post finds everyone having a great February so far!  Can't wait to share more on my journey very soon :)

The Nutrition Nerd