I was able to complete my summer field experience at Super Suppers in Erie, Pa. This is a private business owned by an RD that provides healthy, frozen meals that people are able to pick up. It has a similar concept of getting take out, but much healthier! They also provide cooking classes for both adults and children and cater for various events and programs, including the Dr. Dean Ornish program. The owner also has an on air TV segment once a week where she provides a healthy alternative recipe and demonstrates how to make it, as well as seeing some patients for nutritional counseling. As you can tell, it was a mix of pretty much everything an RD can do all in one!
Because of all the different things the owner does, my day to day activities were always so different. Some days I would help with food production (food service), others I would greet and help customers. I helped plan the various cooking classes and birthday parties that were coming up, along with attending a few health fairs. My main project that I worked on was recipe modifications and remaking the nutritional labels to correspond with the changes we decided to make. The main goal for this project was to create healthier alternatives to the old recipes, including better ingredients, lower sodium, lower calories, lower fat, and so on. Some recipes included trans fat, which we completely eliminated. I was able to work some on food cost analysis’ for some of the most popular recipes, along with comparing vendors to see who we could get the best produce for the cheapest price from. Each day seemed to bring something new, which was so great! It made time go really fast and allowed me to dip my toes into each part of what an RD can do.
I think that the most important thing to my learning was to ask questions and agree to take on whatever my preceptor suggested I do. Sometimes, I was pretty nervous to do a project that she suggested because at first I wasn’t confident in my ability to do it. However, I realized that each time I said yes to something new, I had the background I needed from my classes at Penn State to succeed. For example, I thought that my least favorite part of my experience would be when my preceptor asked me to join her for a live, on air TV segment. I had absolutely no desire to do this and was completely terrified to be on live TV. I was nervous about it for weeks. However, it actually wound up being my favorite thing I was able to do this summer and such a great and unique experience. My advice would be to take chances, even if you are nervous, and to ask as many questions as you can.
Written by: Samantha Twaroski