New year, new rotation. Back in December I wrapped up my four months of clinical and staff relief in the hospital. Now that it's January, I'm on to my community rotation. I'll be placed at two different sites for one month each. This month I'm with Head Start in Virginia. What is Head Start? Head Start is a federally funded program that works with poverty level children ages 3-5. In my county, these children attend a preschool setting four days a week for a half day. They read stories, have activities, food experiences, and most importantly, learn social skills. The school also provides breakfast and lunch for these little learners.

Who works at Head Start? Our county is funded to take 100 students. We have about 4 social workers, 1 nurse, 1 Spanish translator, 12 site teachers and assistants, plus a handful of ladies who work the business and grant side of things. Notice I didn't mention a dietitian. Sadly, my facility does not have a full time RD, but has a contracted RD who works for a separate county. She reviews the menus and meets with the nurse once a month to cover nutrition.

What projects are you working on? 

  • Study:Vitamin D levels in children with pre-existing illnesses. I'm really excited about this one. Because the DC area is a high risk vitamin D deficiency area (due to latitude), and these kids usually have sub-par nutrition, they are very at risk. Many of the children also have a co-factor illness relating to vitamin D such as asthma, obesity, high cholesterol and triglyceride numbers. I'll be interested in the results if the study goes through!
  • Picky Eaters 101 Education for Parents
  • Healthy Gingerbread House material ideas for teachers: No more candy decorations! This county needed ideas for teachers so I went through my mental grocery store to find  ingredients like whole spices.
  • My Plate for Pre-school Poster
  • Sweet Potato Food Experience: How do you get pre-schoolers interested in nutrition? Cook something. I'll be making sweet potato pancakes on a mini griddle. I feel a food truck idea coming on....
RDtoBe Tips for success in your community rotation. If you want to be helpful to your site, do research on community resources. Families sometimes need assistance with job finding, transportation, or food. Having a knowledge base will let you brainstorm with your preceptor. I also suggest reading your facility's community needs assessment report. It will give you numbers, percentages, and facts about the population you're helping.

Need to get kid-nutrition inspired? Check out this fruit and veggie promotion siteStay tuned for photos of my food experience with the students, and my rotation for February!

-Carlene Future RD

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.