RIT Receives $300K Federal Grant for Nutrition Counseling Training

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Rochester Institute of Technology will create a customized training curriculum for the national Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program with support from a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service Agency.

The Value Enhanced Nutrition Assessment program will improve the risk-assessment process used by nutrition counselors in medical-nutritional and dietary assessments of clients. Information gathered will be used to develop customized nutrition programs for individual clients.

“Train-the-trainer” modules, including a set of instructional videos, will be used by USDA state and local training supervisors across the United States, says Linda Underhill, principal investigator and chair of RIT’s health systems administration graduate program in the College of Applied Science and Technology. Four modules cover critical thinking, building rapport, health-outcome-based nutrition assessment and competency self-assessment. Each module includes interactive exercises.

“This initiative is a direct response to the need to interact with Women, Infants and Children customers on a more holistic level,” Underhill says. “A primary goal is to use client meetings to educate, explain and encourage a change in eating habits—rather than merely enrolling a customer into the program.”

RIT is the sole recipient of the one-year USDA grant. Working with Underhill on the project are Barbara Cerio-Iocco and Elizabeth Kmiecinski, RIT associate professors of nutrition management, and C.J. Wallington, professor of training and instructional design, in RIT’s School of Hospitality and Service Management.