Dana Kent

Major:  Nutrition
Hometown:  Mt. Shasta, CA
Class:  Senior
Program Position: Nutrition and Allergen Data Entry and Local Lunch Planner

During her sophomore year Dana wrote a paper on sustainable food systems for an English class and interviewed some key sustainability players on campus. That was more than enough to pique her curiosity. She wanted to know more, so she joined the Local Food task Force at AS Sustainability. She spearheaded a movement to implement a monthly Local Lunch at Whitney which then expanded to the Marketplace in the BMU. A local lunch features items where 80-90% of the ingredients used are locally sourced.

In search of a paid summer internship Dana applied to the National Association of College and University Food Service. She was shortly on her way to Michigan State where she learned about the importance of identifying nutrition value and allergens.  After a fascinating and eye-opening experience at MSU, Dana returned to Chico inspired and eager to put her new found knowledge to work. She met with the director of AS Dining who was so impressed with her experience and her passion that he hired her for a dual role. Dana wanted to implement a tracking and nutrient analysis system similar to the one she had been working on in Michigan. She had been trained to use the US Foods Menu Planning System to calculate food cost, nutritional information, and allergen information for standardized recipes. She is currently doing exactly that, and plans to enter all AS Dining recipes by the end of the semester. Ultimately, she hopes that information will be displayed on the digital signage in the dining hall. She is also managing the Sustainable Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) which shows how sustainable AS Dining Services practices are against a national standard.

In addition to her data entry work, the other part of her “dual role” is being the local lunch planner for AS Dining. The most rewarding part of her job is meeting area farmers to plan local lunches. She serves as the liaison between the farmers and the chef in AS Dining. “I go to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday and get to know the farmers personally and see what they grow.” Another fun part of her job is getting to talk to freshmen at Sutter Dining about the importance of eating locally. “I can tell a personal story about a farmer or a particular ingredient and where it comes from. It helps to root people to the food they eat.”

Wearing multiple hats is not unusual for Dana. In addition to her work with AS Dining Services, and carrying a full course load, Dana multitasks at the WREC. She has been a lifeguard at the WREC Center since it opened, and for the last year and half, she has been a supervisor for WREC Sports. Somehow Dana has managed to find time to apply for several dietetic internships which will require a year-long commitment. Following that, she would like to join the Food Corps for a year to work in sustainable food systems with schools in low income areas. Ultimately, Dana hopes to go abroad to teach nutrition education.

In Dana’s words:
“My favorite part of the job is my connection with the farmers. I get to learn about their history and the beauty of food systems. Intuitive eating is very important: knowing where your food comes from, how you feel when you eat it, tying it to hunger, and rooting yourself to your community.”