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Community Nutrition (DIE3310) Students Earn Moo-Lah Grant for Local Schools

In Community Nutrition (DIE3310), students encounter their first experience with Dietetics coursework.  Dr. Beth Gankofskie, DPD Director and instructor for the course, challenges students to apply their classroom skills to real-world scenarios.  Specifically, students must complete a grant writing assignment.

For many years, Verena Vancil has worked in Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) for Alachua County Public Schools.  She stated, “Through my work in school nutrition, I have come to appreciate the key role of school meals in student success. Child nutrition has been my inspiration to become a registered dietitian, and I wanted to make a small contribution to it by being involved in this grant.”  Together with classmates, Timothy Arbeau and Susanna Park, the group decided to focus on a grant that would benefit Gainesville public schools.  Alachua County FNS Director, Maria Eunice, and Food Service Specialist I (Marketing and Promotions), Caron Rowe, provided information on the Florida Dairy Farmers Moo-Lah For Schools, which offers funding to assist schools with their food service needs while focusing on an increase in dairy consumption.

Through their grant writing assignment, Verena, Timothy, and Susanna applied for the Moo-Brew funding, which creates a free standing coffee bar for high school students.  Generally, high school students do not consume milk during lunch.  By serving coffee beverages with 8 oz of milk and 2 oz of coffee, students (hopefully) consume more nutritious milk throughout the day.  Using enrollment and participation data provided by the Alachua County school system, the team had two tasks for the grant: justify the funding and create a specialized marketing plan.

Through Verena, Timothy, and Susanna’s hard work and dedication, Alachua County Food & Nutrition Services received the Moo-Brew funding for Buchholz High School and P.K. Yonge.  Both of these schools have high enrollment but low participation in the school lunch program.  Each school will receive a rolling beverage cart, barrel coolers, and banners to launch the initiative.

This award represents the first funded grant that resulted from the DIE3310 course assignment, and the FSHN Department is very proud.  After completing the grant writing assignment, the team acknowledged the value of real-world experiences during college.  Timothy stated, “It is surprisingly easy for one to make a difference in the community, if a little time and diligence can be given.” Ultimately, Verena, Timothy, and Susanna experienced a sense of fulfillment, along with a renewed anticipation, for their upcoming Dietetics classes.