Syracuse University students working towards a degree in Nutrition, Nutrition Science, or a related health profession are strongly encouraged to participate in a wide-range of nutrition-related community engagement experiences.

The Shaw Center, with 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. Through the Shaw Center, our interns help guide undergraduate students through the process of finding nutrition-related volunteer opportunities, whether they are 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 and community engagement opportunity for Syracuse University students. The focus is to inspire and educate elementary and high school students about health and balanced 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 Leadership 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 where university students worldwide who were committed to changing the world were recognized. 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 positively impacts the local community and enhances student volunteers’ learning through academic engagement opportunities in which they apply knowledge and skills, with ethics and integrity, in diverse community settings. The programs foster reciprocal and generative community partnerships for intercultural learning which collaboratively address community needs and institutionally-defined goals. The engagement promotes a culture of innovation and discovery through real-world interactions which involve unscripted, complex community issues, and partner expectations.

The Shaw Center supports interdisciplinary collaboration with community partners for faculty research and creative projects 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 Shaw Center Leadership Interns assist SCSD teachers by providing fun and stimulating educational activities that are aligned with the classroom curriculum to reinforce learning objectives.