Tag Archives: UDC

More Staff, Resources Needed at UDC Nutrition Program

This week DC City Council heard day-long testimonies from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). University president Allen Sessoms and Joseph L. Askew, Jr., UDC Chair of the Board of Trustees, made their case for additional operating budget dollars before the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development.  Chaired by Councilmember-at-large Michael A. Brown, the hearing included councilmember Marion Barry of Ward 8.

With potential funding looming this summer UDC aims to climb the top of the priority list. One group within the UDC enclave is the nutrition program housed within the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences. Advocating for more staff and improved facilities, Tambra Stevenson, the outgoing president of the Student Dietetic Association, provided the committee with her remarks sparking interests from Councilmember Barry. As a workforce development opportunity she added the need for a dietetic internship at the University to ensure that the students gain supervisory experience to become Registered Dietitians given today’s job requirements.

Apparently the long-time local politician wasn’t aware of the state of the nutrition program until now. He went on to inquire about the funding needs of the program since the current Mayoral budget has 0 full-time equivalents (FTE) listed. Stevenson stated to the Councilmember: “Conservatively the Department needs at least a million to fund three full-time positions and renovate educational facilities.”

To take a view of Stevenson’s testimony, see below:

Currently I am the outgoing President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia that I call ‘family.’

Like my Oklahoma roots—as a UDC family—we work hard together, struggle together; but ultimately still we rise together.

If it wasn’t for UDC, my goal to become a Registered Dietitian would not be possible. Due to passionate faculty, dedicated staff and supportive peers, I have been learning and doing my passion.

Right now the acceptance rate for a dietetic internship to prepare for the RD exam is 49% nationally; yet for UDC it was 100% this year.  As a testament, I received my number #1 choice Virginia Tech—because UDC prepared me.  And it rightfully should have its own program like most universities. Therefore Council I ask you to increase our funding.

Increase in Opportunities in the Field of Nutrition and Dietetics                                                                                                     

Even in a rough economy, we have been able to still rise.  The UDC Nutrition Department had a 300% spike in enrollment since 04. With DC ranking in the top 10 for childhood obesity, DC residents have been answering the call of First Lady Obama.

And in many ways I am like my late father, an Oklahoma City firefighter. But I am a food fighter on the frontline fighting a fractured food and healthcare system for the next generation to have a better life.

With most of America, the District has rightfully focused on food access like in my Ward 8. Yet for residents in the TANF and SNAP programs, making informed food buying and eating choices maximizes those public dollars.

And that’s why through the UDC Center for Nutrition Diet and Health, I am empowering residents to prepare healthy meals and to double their dollars at the farmer’s market.

Another reason to support our UDC family: It’s the only land-grant accredited and affordable academic program in DC to prepare future RDs like me.

The road has been challenging though with no admin support and only 3 FTE faculty for 80 students. How is this possible? Passion for family!

Our Department Chair, Dr. Prema Ganganna does the work of 3 FTEs with no salary increase in 5 years while losing her son and battling cancer.  And our facilities are that of an elementary home economics lab with outdated equipment and confining space.

Still through all of this, UDC nutrition rises because of professionals like Dr. G.  Without her there would be no program.

And like a family our Nutrition Advisory Committee has supported students with service-learning opportunities in DC Public Schools, DC Cooperative Extension Services, and WIC clinics to name a few.

Funding the Future Food Fighters                                                                                                                                   

It’s difficult training future RDs like me with limited funding. That is why we are here today to urge you to fund the Department for a state-of-the-art learning lab and 2 FTEs to operate our first-ever dietetic internship.

Your decision will determine if we continue to struggle together or rise together. Dear Council, what are we going to do together?

Take Action! In supporting a strong nutrition program for the District, supporters should email a letter this week to Councilmember Barry and to Chairman Brown.  Here is a sample letter to personalize: 

Contact Information for the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development that oversees the University:

Councilmember-at-Large Vincent Orange

Office: 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 410, Washington, DC 20004

Tel: (202) 724-8174 

Email: vorange@dccouncil.us


Councilmember Phil Mendelson

Office: 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 402, Washington, DC 20004

Tel: (202) 724-8064

Email: pmendelson@dccouncil.us

Councilmember-at-Large Michael A. Brown

Office: 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 406, NW

Tel: (202) 724-8105

Email: mbrown@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Marion Barry 

Office: 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 102, Washington, DC 20004

Tel: (202) 724-8045

Email: mbarry@dccouncil.us


April 26, 2012

Councilmember Michael Brown

Committee on Housing and Workforce Development

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Suite 406

Washington, DC 20004

Dear Councilmember  [Name]

Please take action to ensure a funding commitment beyond 2012 for the UDC Department of Nutrition and Food Science!

I am a student of the UDC nutrition program. [State your work, occupation or relationship to UDC, Personalize to your story]

Over the years, District youth have become an unlikely statistic—the top ten in childhood obesity. In fact, over the few decades, access to healthy foods along with nutrition counseling and education has been bleak in communities like Mt. Pleasant and East of the River.

Why does it matter? Obesity has become the gateway to diabetes, heart disease and hypertension like a domino effect.  At this rate today’s youth will become tomorrow’s early candidates for disability and underproductive workforce! The soft savings achieved in prevention is clear from that perspective. So are we going backwards or forwards, Council? A Baltimore Sun article noted that are youth are becoming obese and malnourished. Meaning they have access to food but not eating nutritious foods.

Through the years, so little has been spent on community nutrition for District residents; yet is the cornerstone to prevention. Really! How else can you explain the epidemic of chronic disease plaguing women, men and children—who suffer from diet-related diseases and think the solution is in a pill? Proper nutritional support and access to healthy foods work together; yet the connection between food and health gets overlooked along with recognizing the role of registered dietitians daily.

It has taken until 2010, to get a master’s nutrition program off the ground at UDC training students in nutrition policy, research and communication. With Howard University downsizing its nutrition program, UDC stands in the lead to train and empower residents on a critical topic—nutrition as medicine and as prevention. Together UDC nutrition faculty and students work diligently to ensure continued success regardless of their circumstances. In support the UDC Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health provides student training opportunities and administrative support to the program.

My issue does not have the representation of a high profile of a celebrity or a PR machine—this may explain why it has taken so long to get a concerted effort going on behalf of our nutrition program.  It is vital to keep the UDC nutrition programs going to help our residents to live a healthy, happy life.

I wait to hear back from you as to what steps you will take to ensure the continuation of the UDC nutrition program. Thank you in advance for your attention to my request.


[your name]


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Local Group Kickoff National Nutrition Month

by Tambra Stevenson

WASHINGTON, DC—In celebration of National Nutrition Month and Registered Dietitian Day, the DC Metro Area Dietetic Association, an affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy), will host an event at the IONA House in northwest Washington on March 14th at 6:30pm.

In the US Obesity Trends 2011 report, the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention finds that poor nutrition is a major contributing factor to the obesity epidemic in America with over 30 percent of US adults and about 17 percent of youth are obese. Locally the District of Columbia ranks in the top 10 states in America for high rates of childhood obesity according to the F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011 report.

That’s why the Academy  (formerly the American Dietetic Association) launches the annual nutrition educational campaign in March.  This year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape” to encourage balanced nutritious meals.

In educating the public about the shift from the My Pyramid to the My Plate, the Academy and local groups like DCMADA and the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia host public outreach efforts to promote evidence-based nutrition information for people to improve their lives.

Like My Plate, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommend eating whole foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, seafood and low-fat dairy. And they also encourage reducing sodium, added sugars, trans fats, and refined grains. Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reviews and adopts the guidelines.

To attend the DCMADA event, register online at http://dcmadanutritionmonth2012.eventbrite.com/. To get more nutrition tips, visit National Nutrition Month‘s website. In addition this month, Academy members will be voting for a new President and Board. The deadline is this Saturday. Voting is online at http://www.eatright.org/elections/.

Program Agenda

Keynote Speaker

Jessica Donze Black, MPH, RD, Director, Kids Safe and Healthful Food Project – The Pew Charitable Trusts

“Setting Consumers’ Tables with MyPlate: The Critical Role of RDs”

Robert C. Post, Ph.D, M.Ed, M.Sc, Deputy Director of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) and responsible for overseeing the planning, development, review and promotion of the new MyPlate consumer communications initiative

“What’s On Our Seniors’ Plates?”

Rose Clifford, RD, LD, MBA, Owner, Corn Hill Consulting LLC and nutrition consultant at IONA Senior Services

“Serving Farm-Fresh Food in Schools and Getting Kids to Eat It!”

Andrea Northup, Director of the DC Farm to School Network and advocate for getting healthy, local foods and food education into DC schools.

Tambra Stevenson is the President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia. Follow her on Twitter at @tambra.

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Trail Begins at USDA in Search of African Foods

by Tambra Stevenson

WASHINGTON, DC—In the quest for answers about the absence of the nutrient analysis of African foods in the United States, a visit to the Beltsville [Maryland] Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC) of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) becomes the first step.

The Student Dietetic Association (SDA) of the University of the District of Columbia takes a tour of the facilities and hears presentations by senior scientists. During the meeting, SDA President Tambra Stevenson raises the question about including African food composition to the U.S. nutrient databases to Pamela Pehrsson, PhD, USDA nutritionist who works on these databases at ARS.

Dr. Pehrsson states that one food sample costs $2,000 and a minimum of 12 samples per food item is conducted. She further states that nutrient analysis is planned around the season and crops are gathered from various states in different climates.

As part of the BHNRC, researchers like Perhrsson work                                                 within the three ARS laboratories:  the ARS Nutrient Data Laboratory, the ARS Food Composition and Methods Laboratory, and the ARS Food Surveys Research Group. These labs develop methods and obtain food-composition data and dietary-intake survey results for public use.

Like Pehrsson who declares the importance of capturing nutrient analysis of traditional foods in Alaskan communities more than five years ago, Stevenson states, “As a future registered dietitian working with foreign-born African and Caribbean communities, the inclusion of their traditional foods in the database can help to develop culturally-based dietary therapies for people with diabetes and other health problems.”

To reinforce this point the foreign-born African population has been a growing population in the United States according to the Brookings Institution.

Stevenson inquires if it’s possible to use the International Network of Food Data Systems (INFOODS) to include African and Caribbean foods into the U.S. nutrient databases.

Since 1990, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations coordinates efforts to improve the quality and worldwide availability of food analysis data and to ensure that anyone anywhere would be able to obtain adequate and reliable food composition data. Within INFOODS, the AFROFOODS section continues to face capacity building as its main issue to develop an Africa-wide food composition database. Currently some African countries use existing food composition tables from developed countries which may have little analysis of tradition African foods.

“Because discretionary funding is shrinking, we must collaborate with industry and universities,” states Joseph Urban, PhD, research leader for USDA Diet, Genomics and Immunology. Partnerships include Tufts University, Nestle and DMI to name a few.

”There are several roles that the food industry, government agencies and universities can play in updating and maintaining this valuable data bank,” Kathleen C. Ellwood, Ph.D., former USDA National Program staff, shares at the 23rd National Nutrient Data Conference more than a decade ago.

“Those roles include providing verifiable information about new food products, providing food samples for analysis, conducting sample analysis, providing data, and direct funding.” She goes on to state that the current funding for the Nutrient Data Laboratory is insufficient to meet the challenge of acquiring new data to reflect changes in the food supply and to continuously update existing data. Therefore, it is imperative that the National Nutrient Data Bank is supported by its numerous partners.

Dr. Urban shares how to advocate for adding new items to the USDA research agenda. “This is the right time to contact the USDA human nutrition program leaders, David Kurfeld and John Finley because the Office of Scientific Quality Review will be reviewing programs to include by year 2013 for the revised 5-year nutrition plan.”

Tambra Stevenson is the President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia. Follow her on Twitter at @tambra.
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Student group prepares for campus-wide nutrition programs

by Tambra Stevenson

Members share their culinary skills for a heart healthy cause

WASHINGTON, DC—Students snack on scrumptious crème-filled strawberries and oatmeal cookies—a sampling of culinary creations prepared by the Culinary Crew part of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia. Housed within the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, SDA hosts this month’s Lunch and Learn with a focus on heart health in celebrating Valentine’s Day. As part of its outreach efforts, SDA posts their program flyers with healthy tips to protect heart health. This month’s flyers shares 14 ways to show yourself some love:

  1. Learn proper portion size.
  2. Vary your meals. Do something different today!
  3. Eat a nourishing breakfast – whole grain, raw nuts, fruits.
  4. Keep healthy snacks around – veggies, whole fruits, raw nuts.
  5. Don’t fight stress by eating. Journal, walk or talk it out.
  6. Drink plenty of fresh water. Reduce plastics.
  7. Limit sugary & caffeinated beverages – soda, juice & coffee.
  8. Try to eat fruits and veggies.
  9. Limit junk food – candy bars, chips, & cookies.
  10. Make it easy to eat right. Prepare, Plan & Prevent.
  11. Don’t skip meals. Keep balanced daily energy.
  12. Indulge every once in a while.
  13.  Take your vitamins and minerals.
  14. Get help for eating disorders.

Because of its public relations outreach efforts, SDA continues to increase its membership and participation exponentially over the past year. “We want more students to know that careers in nutrition and dietetics are rewarding personally and professionally,” said Seanita Terry, SDA member. “This moment is the best time to launch a career in nutrition, given the need to improve the health of our future—the children.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Open to members and the wider campus community, military veterans-turned-nutrition students representing the Navy and Marine Corps. During the meeting they express their interests in pursuing a career in dietetics. For one member she looks forward to the programming and meeting more new visitors. . In preparing for the Spring semester, SDA member set their program activities which include educating the campus community on careers in nutrition and food issues. “The Lunch and Learn is a great first meeting for the semester,” says Regina Robinson, SDA member and Vice President of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Relates Sciences.  “It is nice to get to meet new faces of SDA. I look forward to visiting the USDA nutrition labs, the Symposium on Food & Behavior and the Food and Film Festival.”

Providing an overview of the Spring 2012 calendar, the program line-up included campus and community events:

  • February 24 @ 10am: Field Trip to the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, Beltsville, MD
  • March 13 @ 3pm: SDA’s Food Film Fest in CAUSES, Building 44, Room A03
  • March 14 @ 6pm: DCMADA’s event at IONA House, 4125 Albemarle Street, Washington, DC 20016
  • April TBD: Symposium on Food and Behavior in CAUSES, Building 44, Room A03
  • April TBD: SDA Leadership Awards Ceremony in CAUSES, Building 44, Room A03
  • May 17 @ 9am: Agricultural Fair for DC Public Schools, Beltsville, MD

During National Nutrition Month, SDA has ongoing projects such as a global seasonal cookbook and a campus-based grassroots campaign to promote careers in nutrition. This year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape,” which more information is available at http://www.eatright.org/nnm.

Members plan programs for the Spring 2012

The Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia is a professional student organization working to enhance leadership/professional development opportunities and networking relationships between faculty, staff, local professional organizations, and the dietetic student body. They assist graduating seniors into rewarding internships, graduate degree programs and successful careers within the nutrition and dietetics profession. Dedicated to upholding the legacy of the dietetics profession, SDA is leading a new generation into becoming true professionals in action. The SDA’s Facebook page is www.facebook.com/eatrightUDC.

Tambra Stevenson is the President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia where she is refreshing her media skills by taking a web journalism course. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/Tambra or email her at tambra.stevenson@alumni.tufts.edu.

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