UK students serve meals to their peers as part of the Farm-to-Fork program.

UK students serve meals to their peers as part of the Farm-to-Fork program. Photo by Matt Barton, UK agricultural communications.

The University of Kentucky Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition was recently recognized as a national leader in education on sustainable food systems by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.

The foundation named the department as one of four champion sites across the country for its ability to implement its new Sustainable, Resilient, and Healthy Food and Water Systems Curriculum for dietetic interns.

“With the department being in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, it has allowed us to be progressive in offering education and opportunities in sustainable food systems to our students,” said Janet Mullins, interim chair of the department.

The department offers a master’s degree in nutrition and food systems and an undergraduate certificate in food systems and hunger studies. A number of students in the department play an active role in several student-led organizations, including the Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky that gather quality, unused food from community partners and make it into meals for those experiencing hunger on campus and around Lexington.

Each student must complete a 1,200-hour internship to sit for the national registry exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. In the internship program, students work with dietitians and other professionals in the medical, food service systems and community sectors across the state. The foundation’s recognition allowed department internship directors Liz Combs and Aaron Schwartz to incorporate sustainable and healthy food systems education into the rigorous program at the beginning of this semester.

“We have been able to seamlessly weave in several components of the curriculum into our well-established program, and these additions have been positively received by our students,” Combs said. “Our mission is to provide a high quality educational experience to our students, so they meet or exceed high standards for entry level practice as dietitians.”

The inclusion of more sustainable food systems education was welcome news to Morgan Barnette, a senior in the department who is working through her dietetic internship. She hopes to pursue a career in sustainable food systems after graduation.

“Dietetics and Human Nutrition has been unbelievably supportive of my goals and has provided me with ample opportunities and learning experiences catered to my interests,” she said. “These experiences have grown my passions and widened my knowledge base and experience in sustainability more than I could have ever hoped for in my undergraduate career. I’m so thankful to have been a part of this curriculum and to have been so encouraged by my mentors in the DHN department.”

Author: Katie Pratt
Contact: Janet Mullins, 859-218-2798; Amanda Hege, 859-218-4912; Liz Combs, 859-257-9209; Aaron Schwartz, 859-218-3308
Terms: DHN