A group of eight senior dietetics students traveled to Washington, D.C., from March 25 –27, 2009, as a part of their Community Nutrition Supervised Practice course.

“This trip occurred every year since the spring of 1982. Students and faculty in the dietetics program travel to Washington D.C., to learn about nutrition research at a federal level,” said Janice Sandrick, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.D.A., L.D.N., associate professor and director of nutrition and dietetics at Seton Hill University.

While in Washington, D.C., the seniors visited the United States Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute of Health.

“As a registered dietitian, one must be an advocate for sound nutrition policy and have a firm grasp of the issues as well as the regulatory and legislative processes to be an effective advocate,” said Ellen Fisher, senior dietetics major.

“The Washington, D.C., trip helps students achieve necessary skills. For example, this year we witnessed a congressional hearing on obesity where William Dietz, member of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Martin Yadrick, current president of the American Dietetic Association, provided testimony,” said Sandrick.

The group of students visited two representatives' offices, Representative Tim Murphy and Representative Kathy Dahlkemper, to discuss important nutrition issues before Congress. Dahlkemper, who is newly elected, is the first dietitian to be elected to the House of Representatives. While visiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health, students had the opportunity to discuss nutrition research with dietitians actively involved in research projects.

“The FDA and USDA are very influential government bodies to the dietetics and nutrition field. They have significant nutrition research which affects the way we can treat patients or what we suggest to consume during the day. They fund many community projects in the nutrition world, and give us so many educational materials,” said Fisher.

The Community Nutrition Supervised Practice course allows senior dietetics students to have experiences with many community agencies including Women, Infants, and Children, Head Start, Westmoreland County Food Bank, and a private practice. Students develop their entrepreneurial skills by writing a business plan and participating in a business plan competition for the National Nutrition Month project on campus.