"People don't know we exist; that we are out there," explains Jason Drawhorn, president of the UDC Student Dietetic Association, of the importance of participating in such events.
"With the state of health in our country, we cannot separate nutrition from healthcare," stated Drawhorn. "Nutrition is preventative. We are about preventing illness before it happens; and once it does happen, reducing the deleterious effects of disease. So it's important for us to be out here, especially in this community which is so affected by nutritionally-related disease."
Several food deserts exist within Washington, D.C. Residents of food deserts often are supplied by inexpensive fast food venues, resulting in food related health issues including obesity, hypertension and diabetes. According to the Washington Post, 37.4 percent of the District’s households with children are unable to afford food, a rate among the highest in the country. These households are food insecure, which means cutting meals and not having enough to eat on a daily basis.
"In 5-10 years, one out of every two people in the nation will be diagnosed with diabetes. That's scary," says Kemi Adelola, a graduate student in Nutrition and Dietetics.
"If you formed a country with the number of people with diabetes, it would be the third largest country in the world," Drawhorn chimes in.
SDA also hopes to bring awareness to the career opportunities available in the field. Dietitians work everywhere from hospitals to supermarkets. And today's dietitians prescribe diets to patients, just like doctors prescribe medicine.
"This is the way of the future," said Drawhorn.
"This event is also a great networking opportunity for the Student Dietetic Association," added Dr. Ganganna.
That sentiment was echoed by Expo visitors.
"It's nice to be able to have a consultation in person, instead of only looking up the info online," explained Courtney Tolbert, who was visiting the event with her daughter, Kadijah. We did not even know UDC offered this type of program, or offered free community services!
For more information on UDC's Nutrition and Dietetics program, contact Dr. Prema Ganganna.