Improving the Health of Latinos
Cal Poly Pomona has received a three-year, $248,043 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to train dietetic students to better serve the Latino community. The funding will expand the curriculum for Human Nutrition & Food Science (HNFS) undergraduates, offering new courses that develop Spanish-language skills and focus on Latino culture as well as food and health issues.
"Our students are already required to take a course on culture, but we want to provide more culturally sensitive dietetic care to improve the health of Latinos and to give our students an edge in the job market," says HNFS Assistant Professor Lisa Kessler. "Living and working in Southern California with a high Latino population, we believe our students may want more focused training."
Latinos suffer disproportionately from nutrition-related diseases, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as well as higher rates of iron deficiency and poor dental health, according to the most recent data from the 2010 review Healthy People Initiative. The study indicates that new cases of diabetes and diabetes deaths are 50 to 90 percent higher in the Latino population than in the non-Latino white population.
The grant, "Estudiante Dietetio: Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Spanish Dietetic Curriculum," will fund introduce six 1-unit courses that will prepare students to meet the needs of the Latino community.
For example, the community nutrition course (FN 346) will require students to work at least 30 hours at a local site that serves the Spanish-speaking community. They may select from one of four sites in south Pomona and the San Gabriel Valley: Renacimento Center, Fists of Gold, Public Health Foundation Enterprises and the San Gabriel Valley Foundation for Dental Health. The hands-on assignment allows students to conduct nutrition lessons in Spanish, network with professionals in the industry, develop printed nutrition materials in Spanish, and create and maintain a bilingual website about their experiences.
The grant goes beyond curriculum expansion and also supports recruitment of new students into the program, mentoring and three paid undergraduate student positions.
Kessler is working with HNFS faculty and the USDA to develop the curriculum, which is expected to launch in the spring quarter.