FNCE, Food Sustainability and You!

You might be asking yourself… where does the “you” come in as the title of this blog. I promise, I’ll tell you, but you’ll have to keep reading!

This past October, your UNF Food Fighters project leaders Leanza Mayo and I had the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia, PA. to attend the Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). FNCE is an annual conference where more than 10,000 registered dietitians present new research, network and grow the field of nutrition & dietetics. 

Students posing with vendor

(Pictured L-R) Yemilla Lowry, UNF registered dietitian;
Siggi Hilmarrson, owner of siggi’s yogurt; Anna Crum, UNF Food Fighters project leader; Brianna Ballard. former UNF Food Fighters co-founder; Leanza Mayo, UNF Food Fighters project leader.

Highlights from this conference were the networking sessions and listening to presentations on new research. At one networking session and met an internship director who focused on food sustainability in Pennsylvania. We shared with her about UNF Food Fighters and she was definitely curious to learn more, particularly our implementation process. It was a great opportunity to talk about our program successes and its operations. 

We also attended a session titled: Cultivating Sustainable Food Systems: A Nutrition-Focused Framework for Action presented by Dr. Kevin Sauer, Ph.D., RDN, LD, FAND – Kansas State University, Hope Barkoukis, PhD, RDN, LD, FAND – Case Western Reserve University, Marie Spiker, PhD, MSPH, RDN – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, and Amanda Hege, MPH, RDN, LD – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. 

The primary takeaway from this presentation was sustainability is not outside of our practice of nutrition and dietetics and by next year, 40+ dietetic internships will include curriculum for sustainable food systems. This is a huge win for sustainability efforts and emphasis in the field of nutrition and dietetics.  We should, can, and are advocates for everyone to receive the nourishment they need. We can be a part of the movement that drives this. All of us have the responsibility to be more sustainable – you – me – everyone! 

So what is Sustainability? “ In the context of sustainable, resilient, healthy food and water systems, sustainability is: multi-dimensional, about now and the future, about equity: all people and all places, fundamental to the profession.” The profession that is, Nutrition and Dietetics and all others.
Sustainability is not… exclusively about the environment, only about the future, only for those with financial means, only relevant to specialized practitioners. 

Students posing at conference
(Pictured L-R) Leanza Mayo, Brianna Ballard; Anna Crum

Brianna Ballard, a UNF alumni and nutrition and dietetics major, attended the conference. She is now working for Chartwells at Seattle University and shared information about the food recovery program at her university.

It was exciting to talk to others who shared our passion to help others and help fight food insecurity. FNCE opened up a world of possibilities for us beyond just sharing ideas and conversations with others. It inspired us with our own efforts.  Prior to attending this conference, I was unaware of how many people were involved in food sustainability programs and fighting to end food insecurity throughout the country. 

FNCE was eye-opening, to say the least. So many connections were made, and encouragement was given. I want to thank our professors in the UNF Nutrition & Dietetics department, the UNF Environmental Center and UNF Student Government for providing us the opportunity to attend FNCE. 

Pictured above are student and faculty representatives from the UNF Nutrition & Dietetics Department at the University of North Florida. Anna and Leanza are pictured on the bottom right.

Make sure to follow us on social media! @unffoodfighters on Instagram and UNF Food Fighters on Facebook! Interested in volunteering with us? Email us at unffoodfighters@gmail.com!