The Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ArAND), Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance (AHRA), UAMS dietetic interns, and UAMS Culinary Medicine all banded together Thursday, July 13 to present an interactive workshop for the students of the UAMS Pathways Academy. Pathways Academy is a statewide K-12 STEM program with the mission to diversify the healthcare workforce. The program is an excellent opportunity for kids to level up their education and is funded by the Division of Workforce Services.
ArAND received an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) mini grant to promote the nutrition and dietetics profession, and implement nutrition education and hands-on programming for underrepresented groups. Stephanie Jones MPH, RD, LD, CHES, CPT, a Well-Being Clinician for Arkansas BCBS and ArAND’s Diversity Liaison, applied for the IDEA grant with the help of Sarah Keathley M.S., RD, LD, private practice dietitian, and Courtney Fose, M.S., RD, LD, CNSC, FAND, program director of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Dietetic Internship.
The event took place at Carver Magnet Elementary School, but the students are from many different schools. It began with a nutrition discussion, basic kitchen safety tips, and a brief talk about what dietitians do. Stephanie Jones and Alyssa Frisby from UAMS Culinary Medicine both led these discussions and answered questions from participants. The talk was followed by a hands-on activity for the kids; they got to make their own fruit parfaits. The students ranged from fifth to eighth grade and were enthusiastic about making this nutritious snack. Some even experienced eating kiwis for the first time and loved it.
“We were able to impact many children by teaching them the fun of nutrition and the benefits of being a Registered Dietitian,” shared Jones after the event. Keathley added, “I watched so many kids taste a new fruit for the first time and then build creative parfaits with a lot of flair!”
With the Academy’s support through the IDEA grant and the additional funds granted by the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, ArAND plans to continue to promote the nutrition and dietetics profession and cultural understanding of current professionals and provide a welcoming environment for all participants.