Student ambassadors for the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health (IFNH) promote the mission of the Institute and represent the IFNH at various events, working collaboratively to make New Jersey the “Healthy State” and a model for the nation. Students selected as ambassadors are undergraduates who demonstrate professionalism and dedication to the fields of food, nutrition, and health.
In October, the student ambassadors received funding from the Institute to attend and present their research at the 2016 Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition, sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is an international organization of food and nutrition professionals. The conference took place October 15 – 18 in Boston, MA and is considered the world’s largest annual meeting of food and nutrition professionals. FNCE provides the ambassadors with the opportunity to learn about the field of dietetics and network with other nutrition professionals. The students, Megan Devlin, Sofia Zois, and Carly Harris presented their team research project at the conference, “The Influence of Meatless and Vegetarian Food Labels on Food Taste Perception in College-Aged Students.” Peggy Policastro, director of the IFNH Student Ambassador Program, accompanied the students.
Each student was asked to share their FNCE experience. Below are their impressions:
In mid-October I had the opportunity to attend the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) held in Boston over the course of four days. The opening session had many renowned speakers including Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President, Evelyn Crayton. During the conference I had the opportunity to attend many nutrition education sessions on topics ranging from food tourism to the gut microbiome. The nutrition education sessions showcased many experts in the field of nutrition and related health sciences. When I was not attending the nutrition sessions, I visited the expo, where hundreds of vendors gave away products to sample. At the conference I also presented research during the poster session. Our research studied students’ perception of dishes labeled as either meatless or vegetarian. We found that overall students perceived dishes labeled as meatless (i.e. meatless pizza) to be tastier than dishes labeled as vegetarian (i.e. vegetarian pizza). My favorite part of FNCE was talking with people in the nutrition field. I also really enjoyed exploring the city of Boston for the first time. I would like to thank the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health for financing our attendance at the conference. This experience has opened my eyes to the many new and exciting advances made in the field of nutrition and health. After the conference, I have just one question left: what is next to come in the field of nutrition?
Recently, I had the honor of representing the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health at the largest nationwide nutrition conference of the year, the 2016 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Boston, MA. One of my favorite parts of the conference was presenting the research that we, the IFNH Student Ambassadors, have worked on for the last year, “The Influence of Meatless and Vegetarian Food Labels on Food Taste Perception in College-Aged Students”. Though at first I was nervous, I became more at ease when I realized how engaged the audience was in our research. Aside from presenting our research, I had the privilege to learn more about the field that I am so excited to be a part of. Each day, I had the opportunity to attend speaker sessions that were held on current nutrition topics. My favorite lecture was entitled, “Cooking Up Effective Nutrition Education Programs”. As a Community Nutrition major, I loved learning how cities such as Indianapolis, where obesity rates have gone up 8% within the last 10 years, tackle food insecurity, obesity, and nutrition education. I left the lecture feeling completely inspired and motivated to continue the lecturers’ legacies of making nutrition education in America more prominent. At FNCE, we also had a taste at what life would be like as a professional in the field of nutrition by networking and gaining insight into all the different job opportunities. I am grateful for the opportunity that the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health has given me. It was the experience of a lifetime.
The feeling of attending FNCE 2016 can only be described as going to Disneyland for the first time as a kid. This four day conference was a nutrition undergrad’s dream come true, and I found myself a few times saying “pinch me, I must be dreaming”. With the assistance of the IFNH, we were able to present research that we had been diligently working on for the past year. Conducting research is rewarding in itself, but being able to share our team’s hard work with people from near and far who can actually utilize our findings was an experience like no other. Other than research, FNCE had so much to offer, such as the Food expo where various companies would let us sample, test, and learn about their newest products or innovations. When we weren’t touring the expo or presenting research, we were able to attend education sessions of our choosing. Hearing esteemed professionals talk about topics that I was incredibly interested in really confirmed my love and passion for the world of nutrition. If there is one thing I can take away from this year’s FNCE, it is that I am well prepared for my future career in Nutrition and Wellness. Speaking to Registered Dietitians working in various fields opened my eyes to all that lies ahead of me, and I could not be more grateful for the IFNH in giving me this opportunity.