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Arnold School of Public Health


HPEB offers new minor in Nutrition and Food Systems

August 24, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

The Arnold School of Public Health’s Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB) now offers a second minor (in addition to a minor in HPEB) for undergraduate students: Nutrition and Food Systems. Partnering with the Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, the department’s new minor is appropriate for a wide range of majors (e.g., exercise science, psychology, teacher education, nursing, etc.)—not just public health majors—and includes courses that focus on production, processing, retail, consumption and disposal of food.

“Nurses and other professionals have an important role to play in being advocates for their patients,” says Sonya Jones, an associate professor in HPEB and Director for the Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities. “If we say eat more vegetables to the person managing diabetes, but vegetables are inaccessible, then we have an obligation to help bring affordable vegetables to our affected communities.” This minor helps prepare the future workforce to overcome these challenges. 

Nutrition and Food Systems is designed to help mitigate the shortage of trained professionals in these areas, building students’ competencies in the area of food system transformation, environmental sustainability, nutritional health improvement and social justice. “Understanding how we get our food, how the food economy and food politics shape our wellbeing and the relationships between diet and disease are important for everyone who eats,” says Jones. “So much of the mainstream conversation about nutrition is focused on lifestyle choices and this minor allows students to develop the skills to consider the structural causes of poor nutrition and develop their skills to create changes.” 

The development of this new minor coincides with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative that aims to build capacity for obesity prevention through systems change in S.C. “The motivation for this grant was the focus on policy, systems, and environmental changes coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to our state health agencies and community coalitions,” says Jones. “The minor is one of several activities in the state to increase knowledge and mastery of the food system and its relationship to nutrition.”

Students can enroll in the minor’s courses and/or declare the minor at any time. In fact, many students interested in Nutrition and Food Systems have already completed some or most of the coursework. The flyer[pdf] for the minor provides additional details. Students should contact their major advisors with questions about declaring a minor. They can contact HPEB Undergraduate Director Katrina Walsemann (kwalsema@mailbox.sc.edu) about requirements for the Nutrition and Food Systems minor.

Students who have declared a minor in Nutrition and Food Systems or who are seriously considering it should sign up for the Nutrition and Food System listserv.