Press Release for Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Student Nutrition Club Gets Outstanding Commitment Award

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

The Student Nutrition Club at the University of North Florida recently was presented a Clinton Global Initiative University Outstanding Commitment Award for the club’s commitment to improving lifestyle health.

The Clinton Global Initiative University is a project of the William J. Clinton foundation, with the goal of challenging college students and universities to address local and global issues with practical and concrete solutions. These commitments are led by students, focusing on leveraging the resources available to students to take specific action in the larger community.

The UNF Student Nutrition Club received $2,500 to use towards their program called “Reducing Health Disparities through Lifestyle Choices,” which is aimed at reducing racial and income health disparities in Jacksonville through addressing the access and knowledge barriers to healthy lifestyle choices.

Student Nutrition Club leaders involved in this initiative include UNF students Yamivette De La Moneda of St. Augustine; Spencer Greenwood of Julington Creek; Orange Park resident Valerie Lorbis; Rachel McCandless of Jacksonville Beach; Ponte Vedran Bobby Walsh; and Southside residents Lacey Durrance, Malory Foster, Caleb Frazier and Malaika Wilcher.

“As the Student Nutrition Club advisor, I’ve never seen the extent of commitment and a heart for service that this year’s group embodies,” said Dr. Sally Weerts, a UNF professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics. “These student leaders are institutionalizing the American Dietetic Association’s mission of servant leadership and evidence-based practice.”

Members of the nutrition club will be working to improve the lifestyle health of residents living in Cleveland Arms Apartments, a 200 unit, inner-city subsidized housing complex, which is primarily comprised of women, teens and children.

Club members will empower community residents through active engagements with UNF nutrition and dietetics students in an integrated program of personal gardens, culinary workshops for organic produce, physical activity and games instruction and leadership development. Residents of Cleveland Arms Apartments will gain practical, hands-on experience and skills to incorporate fruits, vegetables and physical activity into their daily lives.

“By combining the aspects of food security, dietary intake and physical activity, we aim to build the necessary skills to empower the residents to realistically effect positive behavioral changes and improve their physical health and that of the larger community,” said McCandless, a team leader of the nutrition club’s program.

The club’s program, scheduled to kick off in January with a Metro Kids Konnection nutrition grant from the Jaguars Foundation, will have three stations each Friday night for 12 weeks. Residents will first grow herbs and vegetables in personal gardens, which will produce sustainable gardening skills among the 30 participants.

Second, participants will be cooking organic produce to take home with them at the end of the evening. UNF students will approach each week from a different culinary skill that demonstrates affordable and realistic methods of preparing healthy foods. The third phase of the program is integrating physical activity into daily life through fun aerobics, like dance, and strength training.