Dietetics and Nutrition students help fight hunger, kick-start healthy habits

Currently, more than enough food is produced worldwide to feed everyone globally. Yet, 11 percent of the world’s population, roughly 815 million people, suffer from food insecurity or hunger, according to the U.N.

Closer to home, 17.6 percent, or nearly 433,000, people living in Miami-Dade County are not sure where their next meal will come from or how substantial it will be.

In an effort to help, the Student Dietetic Association (SDA) and the Association of Graduate Students in Dietetics and Nutrition (AGSDN) joined forces with the Dietetics & Nutrition Peer Mentors to launch a food drive at Stempel College that will help supply non-perishable items to the FIU Food Pantry before the busy holiday season.

Roary Visits Food Pantry“This is the first food drive organized by the Peer Mentors and we could not think of a better place to start donating than within our own Panther family,” said Maria Sader, graduate student in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition. “The drive will run throughout November, and we are hoping to collect as many items as we can to bring to the FIU Food Pantry in the beginning of December.”

But the students are taking their efforts a step further, using their expertise in the field of dietetics and nutrition to provide tips for healthier eating.

“When you do not know where your next meal will come from, you end up not being too concerned about following healthy habits. There’s an association between being food insecure and lower intakes of fruits and vegetables, which tend to be underrepresented in the diets of most college students,” said Alexander Gonzalez, SDA president and bachelor’s student in the department of dietetics and nutrition.

Healthier food options tend to be more expensive in terms of cost, but for perishable items, there is also chance for waste. On the other hand, processed foods that are high in sugar and fat are usually less expensive and often become a first option.

“Our idea is to provide a flyer with recipes including pantry items to promote healthier eating,” said Alexandra Briceno, SDA member and undergrad in the department of dietetics and nutrition. “With an easy to use guide we want to help people better understand what appropriate portion sizes look like to avoid overeating. Limiting portion sizes can help decrease obesity, which is a big problem among college students.”

Another tip? The group recommends eating foods that are rich in fiber, which can help lower the risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes by 21 percent.

“If we are able to promote at least one healthier eating habit, we believe we are moving in the right direction,” added Sader.

To contribute to the Dietetics & Nutrition November Food Drive, please drop off non-perishable items to AHC5, room 317 between 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.