As usual, I’m pretty excited about what’s going on in the realm of food and nutrition policy. This month, we’re going to learn about a couple of major things on the public policy radar: The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
This conference is long overdue. The first Conference was held in 1969. The recommendations delivered from that Conference became the bedrock of America’s action on hunger and nutrition. In that conference, some 1,800 recommendations were developed and delivered. Over the following two years, 1,650 of those recommendations were implemented in some way, shape, or form - including the creation of WIC, and the expansion of both the Food Stamp Program and the National School Lunch Program. If you’d like to learn more about the 1969 conference, check out the 50th Anniversary Report released in 2019.
The 2nd Conference is in the planning phase. Of immediate importance are listening sessions set up for the public to share thoughts and ideas regarding the scope of the Conference. Our session - West Coast & Pacific - is on Thursday, June 9, from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm. Click on this link to register. There will be breakout sessions within these meetings for more specific guidance. You’ll be asked to indicate your top 2 choices for breakout sessions during registration. Click here to learn more about the new Conference, and to sign up for updates.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are recommendations and are not public policy per se. However, these Guidelines inform policies and programs that deliver food to individuals, including the NSLP, SBP, CACFP, and many more.
The process for 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is already starting up. The process itself is quite lengthy, taking a good 2.5 years from start to publication. The first call for public comment (on scientific questions) has ended, but there will be more to come.
Learn more about the process at dietaryguidelines.gov, Work Under Way. You can sign up for updates, make public comments, view public comments, view information about the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), view meeting agendas, and even stream the DGAC meetings live. The pic below gives you an overview of the 2020-2025 DGA process, and you can expect the same general timeline for this iteration of the Guidelines.
As always, keep an eye on the Academy’s Action Center for Action Alerts. Legislation like the MNT Act of 2021, the Health Equity and Accountability Act, and the DEMAND Act are all still making their way through the process.
Feel free to contact me with any questions!
Have a wonderful June!
Dawn Matusz, MS, NDTR
Public Policy Coordinator
Bryce Hunt is a nutrition student at UNR specializing in dietetics. Bryce is said to be a wonderful student, participates in class, and is very passionate about nutrition and his future career. He is described as humble, talented, and a future wonderful contributor to the field. After graduating this coming May, Bryce plans on immediately taking the NDTR credentialing exam. He will work on this until he hopefully starts his dietetic internship in August. Bryce finished applying for the internship in February and will find out the results in a few weeks.
When the pandemic hit, Bryce had just started his first semester at UNR. He was able to start in person and then everyone scrambled to figure out how to do remote learning. During this time Bryce had to learn to adapt just like his teachers did. Everyone had to work together to ensure proper communication. He admits it was a bit rough at first but eventually he found a groove that worked well.
Bryce currently has two jobs in addition to finishing his degree. He works at Renown Rehab Hospital as a Nutrition Representative. He also works at a Nutrition Microbiome Research Lab on campus under the guidance of Dr. Steven Frese. Over the past year, Bryce has also volunteered at various food collectives and non-profits such as Eddy House (a Reno-based nonprofit that provides housing and support for homeless youth), Urban Roots (a small community farm that educated children and families on crops and foods), and the Food Bank of Northern Nevada
As a student Bryce makes a difference to fellow students in two ways. He likes to provide resources to other students that are interesting or useful on a particular topic. He also likes to be someone that other students can reach out to if they need to brainstorm or have ideas they want to bounce around.
To make a difference in the community once he becomes an RD, Bryce wants to have a hand in making nutrition literacy more attainable as it pertains to current research. Bryce wants to become an RD because he loves sharing knowledge.
In his spare time, Bryce likes to hike, walk, cook, ferment various foods (like cider, kombucha, and sauerkraut), and start projects.
Ian Dodge completed his undergraduate degree at UNLV last year and is currently a Dietetic Intern and graduate student through the UNLV program. He is expected to finish his master’s degree in 2024 and his internship in August. Ian is also a part time faculty member at UNLV through the Department of Dance as his first degree many years ago was in Dance. He teaches two online Dance classes each semester. Ian has been a member of NvAND for 3-4 years when he first started taking nutrition courses. On the weekends, Ian also works at Sprouts part time. Ian was nominated for being someone who gives trustworthy nutrition advice. He is described as animated, enthusiastic, and passionate.
After finishing his internship, Ian plans to get his provision license, start studying for the RDN exam, and get a part-time clinical job while he is finishing his degree. His ultimate goal is to work in the community, specifically with the HIV/AIDS population.
Ian reflects that his fellow classmates refer to him as their “fairy godmother” because he is older, and this is his second career. He has already had a full-time career as a professional dancer. He comes with a little bit more life experience compared to his classmates. He said when you are in your 20s and not really sure about yourself it is helpful to have someone a little older than you on the journey that can speak to life experience. For his class and fellow dietetics interns, he said he is like a guru and can provide some really great advice on how to not be so anxious or nervous.
To make a difference once he becomes an RDN, Ian wants to work with the HIV/AIDS population. He says not a lot of RDs go into this area and there is a lot of misinformation about this disease. He says this disease is not created equal and a lot of people who have it are food insecure or homeless so he really wants to work in community to do what he can to help. He wants to help people get access to healthy food because with this disease if you do not have access to healthy food, it is that much more detrimental to a person’s health that is HIV/AIDS positive.
Ian wanted to remind fellow students to pause and remind ourselves why we got in this field in the first place. Are we getting bogged down or are we keeping that human connection?
In his spare time, Ian loves to see his friends and rest or focus on self-care by meditating or going to the gym. People and building relationships are a huge part of Ian’s life and being social.
Samantha M. Coogan, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, FAND, is our member spotlight for January. In 2019, she was awarded the Emerging Dietetic Leader award from AND and was then made a fellow of AND. She is described as nurturing, driven, and having a strong desire to see people grow and better themselves.
Sam is the DPD director at UNLV and is a sports dietitian by trade. Sam has been a member of NvAND/its predecessor since 2010. She jumped right into the top of the leadership chain and served as President Elect, President, and Past President without serving any other board positions. Sam does recommend that members do try to serve some other position first before the president positions just to get your feet wet. Sam did enjoy her time as President because she grew so much as a leader and communicator. As President, she learned she had to delegate in order to get everything done. She feels it did make her a better leader not only for NvAND but also in her job as program director. Sam also liked being able to see what she had accomplished the following year as Past President and see things she had started be built upon.
Samantha reports she owes a lot of here career to UNLV. She stepped on campus in 2007 where she earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree and completed her dietetic internship. In 2011 she became a grad assistant, and eventually transitioned into the role of DPD director in 2016. She really enjoys being DPD director because she can bring the perspective of a former student who saw what worked or what did not work so well and has been able to make changes to the program based on this. It is a unique perspective because now as a faculty member, she can see the same stresses that her students are going through. She can connect with them really well because she had the same wins and losses. Plus, she is now getting to work with people she was previously under as a student. She reports it was a nice transition from student to colleague. She feels many students can appreciate this journey since so many students from UNLV were born and raised here in Las Vegas. This shows you do not have to branch out and move away from the state to be successful. Sam also likes seeing the “lightbulb” go on when she explains a concept to students and they all of a sudden get the whole picture.
Samantha feels she makes a difference as an RD to her students by being very transparent which makes her approachable not only while they are students but once they become RDs as well.
Communicating better is the most important skill Sam says she has developed. Sticking to rules she had set is one of the biggest lessons Sam learned as an instructor. She discovered that when she would be flexible or cave on a deadline, the students were not appreciative because it does not reward the students who submitted their work on time.
Getting involved as much as you can is Sam’s advice for students. The more that you get involved, the more comfortable you will feel in your internship. Sam shared that she was afforded many opportunities like becoming a fellow of AND by getting involved. Becoming a fellow of the Academy has opened a lot of doors and elevated her position as an expert in the field which would not have been possible without leadership experience, though she does say that serving as a president role was not required for this.
In her spare time Sam likes to listen to metal music, work out, watch movies, and appreciate tattoo art.
Estefania Herrera became an RD this past March and has been a member of NvAND for five years. Estefania is from Mexico and moved to the US her sophomore year in high school. She said that this has shaped her interest in wanting to assist marginalized and under-served communities. Estefania was nominated for working tirelessly to help underserved populations, including forming her own non-profit organization, Lime Nutrition. She is described as compassionate, giving, and thoughtful.
In addition to working on completing her master’s degree at UNLV, she works as a Graduate Assistant, works for her parent’s family-owned, tire shop, and has developed her own non-profit. As a GA, Estefania is responsible for precepting community rotations and serving as the clinical liaison, and assisting with classes.
Lime Nutrition in the non-profit that Estefania created earlier this year and has already served 30-32 clients, serving primarily homeless clients and sex-workers. Estefania created this non-profit with the encouragement of her father when she realized as an intern, she would like to do more to help marginalized groups. Estefania has faced various barriers and has had to teach herself about the unknown. She said there are plenty of moments of frustration and doubt on whether she should have really tried to set up Lime Nutrition, but she also says there are other moments that make everything worth it. The most challenging part of running her non-profit is getting people motivated. Having affordable MNT counseling opportunities for people sounds great in theory but in reality, it is very difficult. Convincing people it is a real service is a big challenge. Some people are actually not underserved and just do not want to pay a dietitian and other people feel since it is a free service then it is because it is not a good or competent dietitian offering the service. Time and effort are of course challenges as well. Estefania would love for anyone to reach out who is interested in collaborating with her or have any tips or advice.
Resilience is the most important skill Estefania has developed. Resilience being patient with herself, the process, the non-profit, and patients. She says it takes a long time to learn how to sit back and gather yourself in moments where things are not going your way, are hard, or are difficult to understand. You have to be able to encourage yourself to pick yourself up even when things do not go as planned.
Estefania encourages others considering starting their own business or non-profit to “go for it!” You can Google, investigate, and teach yourself a lot about opening a non-profit but the process itself is something that is unteachable and something that only you will be able to learn through the process. Just throw yourself to it and do it with intention.
When asked how she balances her GA, with her studies and working on her non-profit, Estefania laughed. She replied “I will be honest, there are times when it is not balanced”. She says you just have to prioritize what is most urgent. Sometimes it is school, other times it is the non-profit. You have to be okay with spreading yourself thin and somethings you have to compromise on and deem more important. I have learned how to let go of things and accept the outcome when I prioritize other things. I have to be compassionate and understanding with myself when I am not able to give every task my 100%.
In her spare time Estefania likes to cook. She is going back to her roots working with her grandma’s recipes and learning about new ingredients. She also likes to work on puzzles.
Dr. Jamie Benedict was nominated for a Member Spotlight for her contributions to Nevada’s SNAP-Ed program, demonstrating care for the community, and serving as a mentor to students. She is described as researcher, educator, and compassionate. Dr. Benedict has been a member of the state organization since 1990 and at one point was the President of the Northern chapter.
Dr. Benedict has served various roles during her career at the University of Nevada Reno as she has been there since 1990. She is currently the Chair of the Department of Nutrition, she has also had roles as the director of the DPD program, the director of the nutrition graduate program, and the state nutrition extension specialist. Dr. Benedict reflects that she has liked each of the roles as they allowed her to develop different skills and focus on different areas.
During her tenure as Nevada’s state extension specialist, Dr. Benedict was awarded a contract from the USDA to create the foundation for Nevada’s first Food Stamp Nutrition Education Plan (SNAP-Ed). Dr. Benedict states that the growth of this program is the direct result of dietitians, nutrition educators, administrators, and others throughout Nevada’s communities. She states she is inspired by her colleague’s creativity, perseverance, and is honored she can continue to be a small part of this.
Dr. Benedict would like to think that she makes it easier for people to achieve a healthy diet and hopes she has accomplished this through education including the education of future health professionals but also through her advocacy work in regards to school wellness policies and the development of Nevada’s SNAP-Ed program.
Dr. Benedict states that there are so many wonderful aspects about working in an academic setting so she narrowed now her favorites to three things.
Dr. Benedict has never regretted changing her major in college from geology to nutrition. She says it was the best the best thing she ever did. She is so pleased with her environment, opportunities, and the people she has met. “You can’t beat it.”
In her spare time, Dr. Benedict likes to spend time outside with her children and avid outdoorsman husband such as skiing, hiking. In her alone time, she likes to create new recipes, listen to music, and enjoy the quiet.
Darlene Dougherty, MS, RD, FAND is a 50-year member of AND who has had a diverse and involved career and is still actively practicing in dietetics. She is a former AND President, was the dietetic internship at the University of California San Francisco where she enjoyed teaching and training students, has conducted mock Joint Commission surveys across the country where she was able to test if what is taught in school is effective in practice while also assisting facilities in preparing for actual surveys, and has worked in business and industry markets such as Campbells, Kellogg's, EcoLab, General Mills, and Jack in the Box. Darlene was hired for her current position 16 years ago at a critical access facility after she conducted a mock survey. She has now completed 2 complete Joint Commission surveys at that site. Darlene has served on NvANDs Political Action Committee and as Newsletter Editor. Darlene enjoyed her time volunteering and serving on various boards throughout her career and now likes to support other younger members taking on their own leadership positions.
She is described as interesting, engaging, and involved. Darlene was nominated for a member spotlight due to her efforts not only as a former Academy president but also because of her role in helping to create and market Campbells Special Request soup line. Darlene fondly reflects that she worked with 2 other RDs on this project to try and reduce sodium in Campbell's soups so they could market to hospitals and patients. Barriers that had to be overcome during this project were determining if people really believed the soup had less sodium, if there was less sodium, did the lower-sodium version have a flavor that was at all palatable, and would it work in healthcare as well as retail markets. To test and overcome these barriers and questions, Darlene helped set up tasting samples, many in hospitals to allow RDs, MD, and nurses to become familiar with the soups. They also participated in a lot of trade shows. Darlene herself was the West Coast Representative so her role was in leadership and administration where she staffed the sample projects and trade shows and reported back their findings to Campbells. The Special Request soup line remains on the market today. Darlene also helped create Healthy Choice from ConAgra where she did the introduction kick-off for this product into the market. Darlene says she had so much fun working in this setting for a third of her career. Darlene stated that with any retail introduction of products to the market there was always the need to educate the population and media as to what the product was trying to accomplish. Overcoming the dietetic community's opinions about foods, whether it was for a particular product or even in other roles she has had in management, is always a challenge since students and RDs all have their own opinions about foods.
Darlene is getting ready to move out of state, but in her spare time she likes to travel, collect antiques, and bowl.
Darlene says she is a “butterfly lady” because “without change we would not have butterflies and so I enjoy change and the result of that change being butterflies”.
Jessica Enders RD, LDN, has been a member of NvAND since she moved to Nevada seven years ago. Jessica was nominated by multiple of her peers as a dietitian who makes a difference. She is reported as working on the frontline of counseling children with obesity and depression and being seen as a comfort for the parents of these children. She is described as engaged, passionate, and understanding.
Jessica is the director of the Healthy Hearts Program and the Children’s Heart Center in Las Vegas. Healthy Hearts is a risk reduction program for children with early obesity, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, etc. that helps not only the child but also the whole family make healthy changes to help prevent problems in the future. It is a multi-disciplinary program that addresses various aspects affecting the child’s life. Jessica says she is helping families learn how to eat and feel better. This makes her feel like she is making a difference because she is helping with the future. She says one of the best things about being a dietitian is that, ideally, you are helping people find ways to feel better on a day-to-day basis, through nutrition, exercise, and diet.
All the different possibilities that RDs have to work in different settings is what Jessica likes best about being a dietitian. For example, Jessica has worked in-patient, out-patient, in a doctors office, in a dialysis clinic. Sometimes dietitians do not realize the wide range of opportunities we have available to us which is one reason why Jessica likes the way dietetic internships are set up because you get to go to so many sites as an intern and discover opportunities you may have never even considered a RD being a part of. Being a part of organizations such as NvAND really helps identify and discover many opportunities that are out there in Jessica’s opinion.
In her spare time Jessica works with her husband at their new dog boarding business in Henderson. She also likes to travel, read, watch Netflix, and play with her animals.
Dr. Nancy Collins is a wound care certified Registered Dietitian (RD) with a varied and robust nutrition practice. Dr. Collins has been a member of NvAND since she moved to Las Vegas 10 years ago. Prior to relocating, Dr. Collins resided in Florida where she held volunteer positions for over 25 years including President of the Florida Dietetic Association, chair of the Nutrition Entrepreneurs dietetic practice group, delegate in the House of Delegates, and many more. Here in Nevada, Dr. Collins has assisted in planning the annual meeting, was the newsletter editor for three years, and participated with several committees. Dr. Collins was nominated for this spotlight for always offering to help others in addition to being very particular and doing things well. She is described as influential, entrepreneurial, and daring.
Dr. Collins built a large entrepreneurial practice over the past 30 years. Dr. Collins’ main priority is helping to heal patients, most of which have a chronic wound. Most commonly, these wounds are from a recent surgery, an accident or other trauma, diabetes, or a pressure injury. Dr. Collins’ practice also has a medical malpractice component. Dr. Collins has served as an expert witness in over 500 legal matters in which an RD has been implicated in negligence, medical malpractice, or wrongful death suits.
Dr. Collins also authors and publishes professional articles for peer-reviewed journals and textbooks and is a highly sought-after speaker for professional conferences. In addition, she is a current member of the Board of Directors of the American Professional Wound Care Association, a board member of Wound Care Gurus, an editorial board member for the journal Wound Management and Prevention, and the Academy representative to the Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders. This involves many hours of volunteer work but Dr. Collins enjoys it and states that she likes to give back to the profession.
Dr. Collins was also the founder of the website Nutrition411, which was often referred to as the “google of dietetics and nutrition.” She reports her greatest accomplishment was starting a website from nothing, building it up, and later being able to sell it to a multi-national corporation. Creating something that others thought had that much value was certainly an accomplishment for her.
When asked what the most important skill Dr. Collins has developed, she stated she is not sure it is a skill but that she is often described as “intense.” She states that she is a little easier going now and has mellowed with age.
Dr. Collins states that her most rewarding experience came from serving as president of the Florida Dietetic Association. She was able to accomplish many of the things she aspired to during her term, felt she was a good leader, and was able to have a lot of fun while helping the Association have a successful fiscal year. She remembers she enjoyed being president so much that at the end-of-the-year banquet with several hundred Florida colleagues present, she closed her term by wishing she could be president for a full 4-year term just like the President of the US. It was that much fun!
In her spare time, Dr. Collins has various hobbies including sight-seeing and seeing shows in Las Vegas, playing video poker, and collecting Barbie and other fashion dolls.
NvAND strived to make a difference in the 2020-2021 year. During this time, we were able to spotlight 13 members who truly make a difference to their clients, co-workers, interns, community, and state.
Here is a recap of the 13 members spotlighted during the last year:
Supporting Nevada Nutrition Professionals