Jessica Bruggen has been working at The Open Door as our Dietetics Intern as one of many stops on her path to becoming a Registered Dietician at Illinois State University. In accordance with her school’s dietetics program, Jessica will be completing nine months’ worth of hands-on work with several different organizations. Her four-week long internship with The Open Door will fulfill her community nutrition requirement. After her fourth week at The Open Door, Jessica will begin a clinical rotation at a hospital followed by a food service rotation a school for four weeks.
Jessica has been working with Garden to Table Manager Alpa Goswami to make virtual garden tours of all the community gardens so clients can best utilize all the gardens’ resources, and a soon to be released cook book containing healthy recipes and the nutritional information for each meal. Jessica has also been categorizing the book into vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, allergen free, and dairy free sections. She will finish the project by writing an introduction that has basic nutrition education and advice for eating a healthy diet, especially on a tight budget.
“The recipes are supposed to contain a lot of fresh produce clients can get from the community gardens, or common items in the Eagan Pantry. A lot of them are pretty simple, and they contain a lot of fresh produce, especially because food insecure populations tend to have diets that are lower in fresh fruits and vegetables,” Jessica said.
The cook book will be available to anybody who uses The Open Door. Jessica hopes that making resources such as this cook book will help destigmatize the need for help with accessing food, and making people feel a little more included.
“I want to help make clients feel like they’re not just getting something that’s specially designed for low-income populations but that they’re getting something that can be useful to everyone,” Jessica said.
Additionally, Jessica has been making maps for Garden to Table clients that will detail the layout of the gardens, and some infographics about food safety and expiration dates. She has also been filling volunteer roles at the Eagan Pantry to get a well-rounded experience at The Open Door.
“I have really loved getting to do something that actually makes a difference and has an impact,” Jessica said. “A lot of things we do for school are learning for your own purpose, but there aren’t a lot of projects that get you integrated into a community or are actually making a difference for others. I really like doing projects that are actually going to be meaningful for this internship.”
While her time at The Open Door has been short, Jessica’s work will have a positive impact on clients for years to come. She hopes to continue working in the food access sector of nutrition after she finishes school and is grateful that the experience has taught her about leadership and the need for dieticians at food pantries.
Thank you for all your hard work Jessica. We wish you the best of luck with your schooling, and know you will continue to make a positive difference in people’s lives with whatever you decide to do!