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This spring, Deidra Carter, a senior majoring in dietetics at Western Illinois University, was selected to receive an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation/ConAgra Foods Food Safety Student Challenge Scholarship.


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A resident assistant in Olson Hall, Carter used the eighth floor lounge's window to advertise her food-safety class. This photo is one of the "interactive" boards she designed, which contained information about how many people each year get sick from food-borne illnesses. With a dry-erase marker, floor residents were able to mark how many of them have suffered from food-borne illness.

Dietetics Student Selected to Receive $5,000 Food-Safety Scholarship

May 8, 2013


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MACOMB, IL — It's been a busy end of the Spring 2013 Semester for Western Illinois University dietetics major Deidra Carter (Chicago, IL, 60618). Although it's a challenging time of year for most students, for Carter, in addition to attending to her regular coursework load, she has been working on a detailed food-safety program, because, in early March, she learned she was selected to receive an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation/ConAgra Foods Food Safety Student Challenge Scholarship. Just over two months ago, Carter began her flurry of work to finish her regular end-of-the-semester college coursework assignments and projects, as well as develop, plan, implement, record and submit her food-safety program for the challenge award.

After applying and achieving selection earlier this spring, to earn the $5,000 scholarship, Carter had to develop a program that incorporates the Home Food Safety organization's four key messages: wash hands often; keep raw meat and ready-to-eat food separate; cook to proper temperatures; and refrigerate promptly. She said faculty in the dietetics, fashion merchandising, and hospitality (DFMH) department have been key in helping her develop and publicize her food-safety program, which she designed as a cooking class for 10 individuals who are considered to be part of an at-risk population for food-borne illness.

"My goal was to teach food safety, and I wanted to model my instruction after the food safety we learned in the courses we take as dietetics majors. I decided to focus on students who are currently living in the residence halls but who will be moving into apartments next semester," Carter explained. "When you never have had to cook for yourself, there are a lot of things about food safety you may not know. For example, you should not mix raw meat together with produce on the same cutting board when you're preparing food. The cooking class was an interactive way for them to learn about this, as well as other food-safety preparation tips."

According to the Foods Food Safety Student Challenge Scholarship requirements, students are required to: execute the program as described in the student's application; incorporate the Home Food Safety organization's four key messages; use and promote resources available at www.homefoodsafety.org; and provide a progress report and a final report (with a written narrative, as well as with either photos or video that will be able to be highlighted on the organization's website).

Carter, a resident assistant in Olson Hall, said she was able to recruit from her floor for program participants and noted the food-safety program she developed also helped fulfill her resident assistant program-development duties.

She held her food-safety class in the kitchen lab in Knoblauch Hall. The 10 participants were divided into groups of two and partnered with her fellow dietetics majors—Allyson Robertson (senior, Hannibal, MO), Leah Morgan (sophomore, Chicago Heights, IL) and Morgan Fyler (senior, Carthage, IL)—who assisted her in implementing the instruction.

According to Carter, Lorri Kanauss, associate professor in the DFMH department, was key in helping her implement the class, too.

"Dr. Kanauss helped me recruit other dietetics students to help supervise the different stations in my cooking class," Carter explained. "The faculty members were so awesome. They helped me a great deal when I was really stressed out about this project. For me, it wasn't the issue of getting the work done, I was just very timid about having to lead a class and market it myself, because I don't see myself as very good at marketing. Dr. Carol Longley [assistant professor in the DFMH department] also helped me with the publicity for the program. They were all very encouraging," she added.

Kanauss said the Food Safety Student Challenge provided Carter with an opportunity to shine.

"Deidra possesses many leadership qualities. It was a great opportunity for her to showcase those qualities in a successful event she developed and organized," she noted.

Per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation/ConAgra Foods Food Safety Student Challenge Scholarship requirements, Carter has until June 1 to conclude the project, and the final report for the project is due June 15.

At this point, she is working to compile all the information she gathered (e.g., surveys she disseminated), information from the cooking class, as well photographs she took of the marketing and advertising she developed for the program.

"On my floor in Olson Hall, I used the glass wall of the floor's lounge to design an interactive 'bulletin board.' I used window paint and window markers to create a message about food safety, as well advertise for the class. To be interactive, the design included folders or 'pockets' that featured different handouts with information covering Home Food Safety's four key messages," she explained. "Another interactive board I designed contained information about how many people each year get sick from food-borne illnesses and asked residents to mark, with a dry-erase marker, how many of them had suffered from food-borne illness. It was like a little tally sheet. The board also directed them to the www.homefoodsafety.org website, which was part the scholarship program requirements," Carter noted.

If she is able to, Carter hopes to take the remainder of a $500 stipend she received as an advance on the $5,000 Student Challenge Scholarship and implement a program in her grandmother's senior building in Chicago.

"I know they develop programs for the residents there, and I have a good relationship with the director there, so I think I want to try and do something similar to what I did here on campus to add to my volunteer work," she said. "I definitely want to do something that strengthens my involvement in the subject," Carter added.

For more information, contact Longely at CE-Longley@wiu.edu. Learn more about the Western Illinois University Department of Dietetics, Fashion Merchandising, and Hospitality at www.wiu.edu/dfmh.

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (TE-Koltzenburg@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations