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MTSU center makes healthy food, beverage choices t...

MTSU center makes healthy food, beverage choices taste good in student classes

In advance of one of the biggest eating seasons of the year, some MTSU students will approach the table with a different perspective because of a special program.

“Blue Raiders Drink Up: Healthy Choices for Healthy Students” is sponsored by MTSU’s Center for Health and Human Services. It is funded with a three-year grant provided by the Tennessee Department of Health as part of the Project Diabetes initiative. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.

Christina Byrd, Project Spark coordinator, Center for Health and Human Services

Christina Byrd

Dr. Janet Colson, professor of nutrition and food science

Dr. Janet Colson

The goal is to help reduce excess weight and obesity as risk factors for the development of diabetes. Students are learning the importance of health beverage choices and reducing sugary beverage consumption.

They also have opportunities to receive counsel from a registered dietitian, receive a scholarship for personal training sessions and participate in a variety of campus educational events and activities.

Following the July 1, 2019, start of the grant period, MTSU launched its first “Blue Raiders Drink Up” cooking class series in September. The classes are modeled after the evidence-based national “Cooking Matters” program and are led by registered dietitians and staff from MTSU and the University of Tennessee Extension Office.

Christina Byrd, the CHHS program coordinator for the project, said students learn how to plan meals, make healthy recipes on a budget and make food taste good.

Aaron Musico, an sophomore biology major from Parsons, Tenn., shows his excitement in one of MTSU’s cooking classes under the Project Diabetes initiative. (Submitted photo)

Aaron Musico, an sophomore biology major from Parsons, Tenn., shows his excitement in one of MTSU’s cooking classes under the Project Diabetes initiative. (Submitted photo)

“The first week we created a Greek salad and different versions of infused fruit water,” Byrd said. “The final session of the four-week series concluded with a grocery store tour.”

Two undergraduate MTSU dietetics students serve as student ambassadors for the project and have assisted with cooking classes and other activities.

“We are thrilled to have our students involved in this grant, which provides a great learning opportunity for them as future dietetics professionals,” said Janet Colson, a professor in the Department of Human Sciences and a registered dietitian. “It’s great the student ambassadors are able to help their peers become healthier through nutrition education.”

Partners with CHHS in the Project Diabetes initiative with the Department of Human Sciences include MTSU Student Health Services, the Division of Student Affairs, Aramark, the Department of Health and Human Performance, the Tennessee Clean Water Network, the University of Tennessee Extension Office and local apartment complexes.

Center for Health and Human Services logoTwo additional cooking class series, each with four weekly sessions, will be offered in the spring 2020 semester. Dates will be announced later.

Students are encouraged to check www.mtsu.edu/chhs or contact Byrd at 615-904-8342 or ctb4f@mtmail.mtsu.edu for dates and registration information.

Cynthia Chafin, associate director for community programs, Center for Health and Human Services interim director

Cynthia Chafin

The Center for Health and Human Services seeks to improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans and the nation through multistate partnerships. The center facilitates research, communications, education and training in public health issues of importance to Tennessee.

For more information, contact Cynthia Chafin, CHHS associate director, at 615-898-5493 or cynthia.chafin@mtsu.edu. The CHHS also keeps an active presence on social media at Facebook and Instagram at mtsu_chhs and Twitter at @mtsuchhs.

— Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)


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