KSC interns work at Our Place

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BELLOWS FALLS — Two young women, one from Des Moines and the other from Seattle, recently spent time at Our Place Drop-in Center in Bellows Falls learning about the charitable food system and giving back what they have learned as students in the dietetics program at Keene State College.

Iowan Katherine Rosenthal and West Coaster Dani Cuddeback worked alongside the staff at OP three days a week for three weeks to learn what the food pantry offers and to add their own touch.

Among their activities were interviewing clients about what they like to eat and how they access food, making chicken noodle soup and creating recipes for the monthly home deliveries, reviewing food safety training with staff, looking at the nutritional requirements of clients with diabetes, and making signs to encourage hand washing and enrollment in the SNAP program.

In the pantry, they made healthy snack bags and nutritional signs, including one about the truth, benefits and myths of eating eggs.

Their work fit into a standard framework of 12 activities required by the Keene State program. Other activities as fourth-year interns include exposure to the Vermont Foodbank, local farms, hospitals, New Hampshire Community Action, and the Women and Children program. They will do two more rotations in January and April and take a national exam to become registered dieticians.

"Keene State has opportunities others don't have, like access to farms and not just institutions," said Cuddeback. "We get to see how bad food insecurity is and what the barriers are to accessing food."

Rosenthal said they will spend three weeks at Fertile Field Farms learning about the farm-to-table movement and at the Sullivan Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Our Place director Lisa Pitcher said it was nice to have young people in the building who are learning new things and sharing what they know.

"There's been cross-fertilization as we've shared ideas," she said.

Rosenthal said she was impressed that Pitcher and her staff are focusing on nutrition, citing the increase of fresh produce from 396,062 pounds in 2012-13 to 2,109,000 in 2015-16.

"There are so many different areas where Our Place has an impact," she said. "Little things like snack packs, nutrition education, recipes, including more veggies in home deliveries and being aware of the nutrition requirement of people with diabetes."

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