Campus Dietitian Helps Create Balanced Diets for Students

Julia Barton ® Staff Writer |

Understanding food, the human body and how they work together is the domain of the dietitian.  Here on the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus, dietitians work everyday to help students stay happy and healthy

The jobs of a registered dietitians and licensed dietitian include many responsibilities. Dietitians help in a variety of ways regarding food allergies and how to maintain a well-balanced diet.

The four main areas of practice are clinical, food service, community, and research. RDs can work hospitals, kitchens, research labs or at schools and college campuses.

“Helping students with special dietary needs is my main job here on campus,” Holly Ellison, MNSU’s RD and LD, said in her Exploring Health Careers presentation. “I am here to talk with students about anything regarding diet or nutrition. I do one-on-one counseling, presentations about health and nutrition, conduct tours in the University Dining Center for students with special allergens, and I help with campus events such as Mindful Week and Stress Less during finals.”

“Also, I help with the dietetics program here at MNSU and some of the classes. I play a little role in many different areas, I also work with the athletic teams, Health Services, Res life, disabilities resources, dorms, campus rec, and the list goes on. I’m all over the place within the campus so I get lots of steps in during the day which I really like.”

In the University Dining Center you’ll find a dietitians choice of the month, which introduces a new food that students can try. What’s for Lunch Wednesday is also a special dietitian choice feature that is a new menu item every week that isn’t typically served. MNSU Mindful Meals are dietitian-approved meals that meet required health guidelines as well approved by the executive chef as delicious and filling.

“I think the simple servings area is a fantastic addition to the dining center. I think it has healthier options as well as more options for those who need different food options,” Abbie Gustafson, freshman at MNSU said. 

“I think it’s really good that the university provides these types of options, because at my high school you would have to fill something out to get a gluten free version of the foods, which typically were not all that tasteful. I enjoy the simple servings area, they have really good food,” Gustafson continued. 

To see the school’s dietitian, all that is required is a meal plan or a minimum balance of $25 dining dollars in your account.

Although some might use the terms ‘dietitian’ and ‘nutritionist’ interchangeably, they are not the same. A nutritionist is anyone who has an interest in diet or nutrition, anyone can call themselves as such. 

A registered dietitian must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university program and complete a criteria set by the governing body of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. By Jan. 1, 2024 all dietetics students must have a masters degree to qualify for their RD board exam. 

You can find Ellison’s office at Student Health Services located at the lower level of Carkoski Commons.

Header photo courtesy of the Campus Dietitian’s Facebook page.

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