Syracuse University students working towards a degree in either nutrition/dietetics or nutrition science are strongly encouraged to participate in a wide-range of nutrition-related community engagement experiences. In order to be eligible to apply to a post-graduation internship, dietetic students should acquire 250 hours of nutrition-related volunteer experience by their junior year.
The Shaw Center, with generous support from the Department of Public Health, Food Studies, and Nutrition at David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics employs undergraduate students for Nutrition Leadership Internships who focus on developing community engagement opportunities specifically for students within that college. By volunteering through the Shaw Center, our interns help guide undergraduate students through the process of finding nutrition-related volunteer opportunities, whether they are in interested in volunteering on a short-term basis or through programs such as Books & Cooks, Food Busters, or Cooking on the Hillside.
The Nutrition Initiative is a reciprocal learning, community engagement opportunity for Syracuse University students. The focus is to inspire and educate elementary and high school students about health and good nutrition. This Initiative is composed of 3 separate programs that are customized for different age groups within the Syracuse City School District (SCSD). The initiative began in 2010 when Books & Cooks! was developed by students majoring in Nutrition and Shaw Center interns. The program was submitted as a “Commitment to Action” to the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U), an annual conference held by President Bill Clinton that recognized university students worldwide who were committed to changing the world. The program won an “Outstanding Commitment to Action” award. Since its inception, the Nutrition Initiative has grown to include 2 additional programs; Cooking on the Hillside (2011) and Food Busters (2014).
The Nutrition Initiative has had a positive impact on the local community. In 2018, four Nutrition Leadership Interns (worked 1,200 hours), and 28 SU student volunteers (provided 960 hours), to engage with 63 city school students. They enhanced student volunteers’ learning through academic engagement opportunities in which students apply knowledge, skills and values in diverse community settings that address global issues and complex societal problems. The programs fostered reciprocal and generative community partnerships for intercultural and ethical learning that collaboratively address community needs and meet institutionally defined goals. The engagement improved the SU student experience by developing leadership opportunities through internships, community engagement, center initiatives, literacy programs, and consultation. These activities promote a culture of innovation and discovery through real-world engagement that addresses unscripted, complex community issues and partner expectations. The Shaw Center supports interdisciplinary collaboration with community partners for faculty research and creative activity that address emerging opportunities and societal needs. This also provides SCSD students with college-age role models, intended to increase retention and the high school graduation rate. The SU interns assist SCSD teachers by providing fun and stimulating educational activities that are aligned with the classroom curriculum to reinforce learning objectives.