Nutrition, food sciences students take on health, food safety in internships

Two LSU College of Agriculture students have used internship opportunities to put into practice what they’ve learned in the classroom.

bagleyAlyse Bagley interned with Eat Fit NOLA, where she helped develop an app to help consumers find “better for you” food options at restaurants in the New Orleans area. Photo provided by Alyse Bagley

Alyse Bagley, a senior from New Orleans, helped develop an app to encourage people in New Orleans to eat healthier, and Jennifer Hartmann, a senior from Baton Rouge, was instrumental in designing a food safety plan for a large Baton Rouge-based company.

Bagley interned with registered dietitian Molly Kimball’s initiative Eat Fit NOLA. Working with Ochsner Health Systems and Elmwood Fitness Centers, Bagley helped New Orleans-area restaurants and chefs highlight healthful options on their menus.

Bagley’s responsibilities included working with chefs to develop options that meet the Eat Fit NOLA criteria.

“We make recommendations on how to make certain items better for you, to see what can be modified and how,” Bagley said.

To be considered Eat Fit NOLA dishes, items must fall below certain limits for calories, sodium, sugar and animal-based saturated fats. Consumers can look for a seal on menus to know those items are what Eat Fit NOLA refers to as “better for you” options.

During Bagley’s year with Eat Fit NOLA, the program launched the Fit NOLA app to make it easier for diners to find better-for-you dishes, track nutritional content and learn about family and fitness activities in the area.

“I helped restaurants add their dishes to the app and converted recipes to the database,” Bagley said.

As an intern with Eat Fit NOLA, Bagley said, she was able to apply the lessons she learned in the classroom. “In class, I learn it and memorize it, but here I got to do it,” Bagley said.

Bagley said her internship has inspired her to work with community nutrition projects. She said she hopes she can combine community and sports nutrition to help others perform better on the playing field or in the gym.

“I love wellness and teaching others about it,” Bagley said.

On the food science side, Jennifer Hartmann is helping keep food safe.

PhotoJennifer Hartmann (left) looks on while a classmate prepares to measure the caloric content of peanut butter. Hartmann used the food science knowledge she learned in the LSU College of Agriculture to help develop a food safety plan for Table Fresh, a subsidiary of Associated Grocers. Photo by Tobie Blanchard

Hartmann is completing a year interning with Associated Grocers, helping the company develop a food safety plan for its new subsidiary, Table Fresh.

Hartmann’s main responsibilities have included updating food safety plans to assure the company complies with new regulations for the Food Safety Modernization Act.

As part of the job, Hartmann had to get certified in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, or HACCP, a management system that addressed food safety through the analysis and control of chemical, biological and physical hazards.

Table Fresh provides prepared food to restaurants and grocery stores. Hartmann said there are more food safety guidelines when preparing food than when storing or distributing it, which is a role of Associated Grocers.

“I had to merge old and new rules and still satisfy the company’s standards,” said Hartmann, who became interested in this type of work when she took a food safety class.

“It’s a big company that feels small,” she said. “I’ve learned so much there – interacting with other people, learning the process, understanding what the day-to-day operations are like."

Hartmann, who graduates in May, has already accepted a job to work in quality assurance for Community Coffee. She said her internship experience prepared her for this next step.
 
“I will be testing products, conducting quality checks and looking at color, taste and aroma,” she said.