Networking, Professional Development, and the School Spirit Award: Former Shaw Center Leadership Intern Maddy Baker Recaps the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo

Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics holds the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). The Academy comprises the largest group of food and nutrition professionals in the world, and each year members from around the country travel to experience everything FNCE has to offer.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the in-person FNCE, but after being held virtually for the past two years, FNCE was once again held in-person Oct. 8-11 in Orlando, Florida.

Maddy Baker says she and the other dietetic interns from Falk College left FNCE with “knowledge and insight on diverse topics, connections to professionals in the fields, and memories we will always treasure.”

This year’s cohort of dietetic interns from Syracuse University were encouraged and supported by the Falk College to attend FNCE. All 10 interns, along with multiple Falk nutrition faculty, traveled to Orlando for a weekend of networking, professional development and fun, said Maddy Baker ’23, a dietetic intern in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies.

FNCE 2022 offered countless educational sessions, an impressive exposition floor and exciting networking opportunities. Each intern expressed immense gratitude for the opportunity to attend this inspiring event.

“As future dietitians, this was a valuable experience that inspired us as young professionals and reminded us of the important field we are working to enter. Connecting with other students and dietitians and hearing about their experiences and passions is inspiring and confirms that I am on the right track in becoming a dietitian,” Baker says.

After the opening ceremony and remarks from Academy President Ellen Shanley ’73, the conference began. There were sessions throughout each day, covering topics like sustainability, malnutrition, accessibility and cultural differences.

“There was truly no shortage of opportunities to learn. When the interns were not attending sessions or checking out research posters, we visited the expo floor. This year, more than 200 organizations attended FNCE. Brands and companies, big and small, showcased their products and services and to no one’s surprise, it was delicious,” Baker says.

There was plenty of Orange representation at FNCE, as Falk assistant professor Jessica Garay presented research posters with student contributions titled “The Effect of a 3-month Lacto-ovo Vegetarian Diet Intervention on Diet Quality” and “The Effect of a 3-month Lacto-ovo Vegetarian Diet on Inflammation.”

Kay Stearns Bruening, associate professor and the Undergraduate Director of Nutrition, presented a future practice poster titled “Focused Interdisciplinary Learning Experiences Improves Awareness of Interprofessional Health Profession Skills.”

Led by director Nikki Beckwith, the Syracuse University Dietetic Internship won the School Spirit Award, which was presented to the group by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President and Syracuse University alumna Ellen Shanley.

One of the most exciting events of the weekend was when the Syracuse University Dietetic Internship accepted the School Spirit Award from Shanely. The interns and director Nikki Beckwith attended a reception with Shanley and received words of professional advice from multiple academy board members.

In April, intern Rebecca Garofano G’23 was honored with the Outstanding Dietetics Student Award by the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. At FNCE, Garofano and her research partner, Helen Midney, presented on “Food Solidarity: Lessons From a Farmworker Community’s Food Pantry Garden.”

“All nutrition students hear about FNCE and the amazing opportunity it provides. However, after experiencing it firsthand, the Syracuse University dietetic interns agree that this is an understatement. Having the opportunity to travel as a program was a memorable experience. We left with knowledge and insight on diverse topics, connections to professionals in the fields, and memories we will always treasure,” says Baker.

Editor’s Note: Baker and Garofano were joined in Orlando by eight other dietetic interns who are graduate students and will complete their internships in May: Asma Bukhari, Dahabo Farah, Natalie Krisa, Olivia Mancabelli, Maureen Philzone, Jennifer Pope, Sydney Teeter and Shenna Tyer. If you’re interested in a career in nutrition and dietetics, learn about the programs offered through Falk College on the Department of Nutrition Science and Dietetics webpage.

Story by Maddy Baker ’23, dietetic intern, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies and was published originally here