Today is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day! As the nation's food and nutrition experts, registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) are committed to improving the health of the people they serve. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically based food and nutrition information. In honor of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, we’d like for you to get to know our staff dietitian, Jeanne Hopkins.
What is your role at NutriStudents K-12?
I’m the staff Registered Dietitian at NutriStudents K-12. I’m tasked with analyzing the menus and recipes for nutritional content and compliance with federal guidelines. I keep my certification updated with continuing education courses.
What got you interested in the field of nutrition?
In a high school home economics class, we were covering a nutrition section. The teacher said to the class that if you enjoy this and chemistry class goes well for you, there is such a profession as a dietitian. I took chemistry the following year and was hooked.
Growing up in a big family, the idea of eating healthy was modeled for us. We always had a second refrigerator that was filled with milk. For a snack in the summertime, we always had a case of fruit, peaches, cherries, or pears kept cool in the basement.
What has your career path looked like?
My career path initially focused on nutritional care for the elderly with sales and consulting work with menus. I felt a little unfamiliar when I transitioned to working as a foodservice director for a school district, but it turned out the favorite food was the same, mashed potatoes and gravy! I was a school foodservice director for 16 years, overseeing 6,500 breakfasts, lunches, and after-school dinners daily before I joined the NutriStudents K-12 team.
How has the field of nutrition changed during your career?
Nutrition is such a young science, there are updates and new changes all the time. Our work is more successful when we embrace the updates and appreciate them.
What’s your favorite thing about school foodservice?
My favorite thing about school lunch is the staff. I’m amazed at their ability to produce quality meals for the kids and how they genuinely enjoy interacting with students – talking to them and serving them.