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USDA Child Nutrition Program to Dietetics Interns: We Need to Talk!

Posted by Melissa Daigle Katz, MPH, Child Nutrition Programs, Food and Nutrition Service in Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017
Dietetics interns using their nutrition science education
The USDA and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics announce new effort to bring dietetic interns to child nutrition.

The USDA and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy) are excited to announce a brand new effort to bring dietetic interns to child nutrition!

Dietetics students, you know who you are!  You’re studying hard to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist so you can help Americans live healthier, happier lives.  You have the most up-to-date education in nutrition science, a fresh perspective and lots of creative energy, and you’re looking to put it to work in an internship with maximum impact.  The federal Child Nutrition Programs are where you need to be.

We serve infants, children and even seniors through meals served at schools, day care homes and centers, and community settings.  In 2010, The Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act launched lots of major changes, including updates to the school meal programs. And this year, USDA rolled out the first improved nutrition standards for the Child and Adult Care Food Program since the program’s start in 1968.  Our recipients will soon be enjoying meals bursting with more delicious fruits and vegetables and filled with more exciting variety than ever before!  Reaching all the providers who serve USDA-funded meals with training on how to buy, prepare and serve more nutritious and appealing meals is a lot of work.  And we need all hands on deck to help get the job done.

USDA and the Academy are making it easier than ever to find the Child Nutrition Program rotation that’s right for you.  We’ve created a toolkit of resources to help state agencies get ready to host and to help you get ready for your rotation.  Check them out at

By the way, dietetics leaders at the state and local agencies who administer Child Nutrition Programs, who have already hosted dietetics interns, know how valuable you are! But don’t just take my word for it:

We very much enjoy working with dietetic interns at the Iowa Department of Educations’ Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services.  We take the opportunity to encourage their future work in Child Nutrition Programs.   During their time with us, they may participate in an administrative review, assist with current projects, meet partners, and get a glimpse of what is involved in the administration of the Child Nutrition Programs at the state level.  We try to tailor their experience to their specific area of interest.  This is a great opportunity to form a relationship with interns who are interested in working in Child Nutrition Programs in the future.  We learn a lot from each other! – Patti Delger, RDN, LD, Iowa Department of Education

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in serving as a preceptor site for public health nutrition graduate students completing their dietetic internship requirements. While MDE has been able to open students’ eyes to the possibilities for registered dietitians to work with USDA Child Nutrition Programs, the student interns have opened our eyes to the creativity, capacity and potential of our state’s up and coming nutrition leaders, often helping us to see our everyday opportunities and challenges from a new perspective. — Kara Mitterholzer, MPH, RD, Minnesota Department of Education

Work alongside our team and help bring up the next generation of healthy eaters!

Dietetics interns using their nutrition science education
The USDA and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics announce new effort to bring dietetic interns to child nutrition.
Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

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Kathy Jensen, RDN, LD
Dec 15, 2016

I am the consulting RDN for a large CACFP program in Colorado. I have been the proctor for dietetic interns and senior dietetic students at University of Colorado - Colorado Springs campus for many years in the past. I would be interesting in being a proctor for someone that lives in our area that needs this experience.

Kathy Jensen, RDN, LD

Ben Weaver
Dec 16, 2016

@Kathy Jensen - thanks for the comment, Kathy. Someone from the CN staff will be in touch with you shortly.

Harshad P
Dec 17, 2016

Good move for dietetic interns.

Gabriella Warner, MS, RD
Dec 21, 2016

I run the School Food Initiative program for LiveWell Colorado (, where we bring scratch cooking and fresh ingredients back into school kitchens. We get numerous placement requests for dietetic interns; however, we just haven't had the bandwidth/capacity to get the ball rolling. Any assistance would be appreciated, as establishing a system or avenue for future RDs to fall in love with this specialty is of great interest to us!

Ben Weaver
Dec 21, 2016

@Gabriella Warner - thanks for the comment, Gabriella. Someone will be in touch with you shortly.

Trudi S, RDN
Dec 29, 2016

Thanks for this new initiative! I am a consultant with a Head Start agency in northern California. I am a co-preceptor for 6 dietetic interns every year. In addition to menu projects, we also provide opportunities for the interns to present nutrition activities with the children in their classrooms and nutrition education at the parent meetings. The interns also provide one-on-one nutrition counseling with parents using motivational interviewing skills.

Dan Gorman
Apr 18, 2017

I have been getting 3-6 interns each year for the past 4-5 years in Michigan. They are an investment in time but the deliver great results moving forward our health and wellness agenda.

Plus I enjoy the new set of eyes and opinions the bring to our food service program.

Heather Harrison-Catledge, LDN, CLC
May 04, 2017

I am the main preceptor at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health/ WIC program. To date with my 23 year's with MA WIC, at the state and local level of my career I have been a proctor to over 200 interns!
At the state we precept dietetic interns who are enrolled in master's level coursework from most of the D.I. programs in MA and beyond: Tufts University, Simmons College, Boston University, UMASS, B.I.D.M.C., BWH,Case Western Reserve in Ohio and many distance programs. On an average year we precept 15-20 dietetic interns all through-out the year.
D.I. are very valuable part of our team. We make sure to integrate them into every aspect of our work. i.e. meetings, in-services, webinars & trainings and offer many diverse, interesting projects. Many of our local WIC programs also precept undergraduate/masters dietetic interns/nutrition majors, this experience in a local WIC clinic gives D.I's a more personal view of what is required from a nutritionist working one on one with direct care to participants. Many interns have been fortunate to be employed at a local WIC program. We love to be/have been able to offer dietetic internships and look forward to continue this important practice!
Thank you , Heather

Cassandra Hector
Nov 21, 2019

I am a Public Health Nutritionist- trained in the UK but I practice here in America, my first role as a nutritionist was with the WIC program. Then Early Head Start and my current for the past 6 years is with CCFP in Florida. I have been a proctor for Dietetic students, however, I currently do not have a license in the state to practice as a licensed Nutritionist. I would like to complete my certification. Need help!! It's so ambiguous and complicated to understand what is required, can someone help or shed light on this process.

Ben Weaver
Nov 21, 2019

@Cassandra Hector - thank you for your inquiry concerning dietetics licensing in the State of Florida. The Florida Department of Health can assist you with all your questions. Their website at contains information about the licensing process. You also can get assistance from their Customer Contact Center at (850) 488-0595.