Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA)

The MiAND IDEA Committee will actively seek out and implement effective strategies to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Michigan dietetics profession and among the people we serve, including Black/African Americans, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and other disenfranchised groups.

Michigan Academy Inclusion Statement

The Academy has revised its title for “Diversity and Inclusion” to “IDEA.” Also, the IDEA Promotion Grant (up to $10,000 funding) is now available on an annual basis with a deadline of March 1.

Project SOAR

Project SOAR (Ready to SOAR and rise to reach the goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian) is an Academy IDEA mini-grant program. One of the primary goals of the grant is to promote the profession of dietetics and recruit people of color and other underrepresented students who have an interest in allied health. Project SOAR aims to bring about awareness of the field of nutrition and dietetics as an allied health career option.

Project SOAR is an essential and necessary community grassroots effort for increasing diversity in the profession. It aligns with the Academy’s IDEA action goals two and three and the Strategic Plan Diversity and Inclusion Impact Goal.

Project SOAR provides STEM students of color and other disenfranchised groups who attend middle and high school annual “career” day events with information about the dietetics profession, coursework, and the Academy requirements for becoming a registered dietitian.

You can read more about the details of Project SOAR here.

Read below about Project SOAR events that are happening in Michigan.

Arezoo Rojhani, PhD, RD, Director of the Undergraduate Program in Nutrition and Dietetics, along with the Student Dietetic Association (SDA) members and two graduate students hosted, carried out mini-grant requirements and added synergy to elevate the first very first MiAND Project SOAR career day events at Western Michigan University (WMU) on February 11th and 25th, 2023 with the Merze Tate Explorer’s (MTE) youth organization. MTE is a Kalamazoo-based non-profit organization that provides young women of color with educational, cultural, and art exploration, as well as travel opportunities.

The WMU SDA members and graduate students were:

  • Antonia Vitale
  • Natalia Yuen
  • Andrew Dosher
  • Migdalia Martinez (graduate student)
  • Dorcas Chong
  • Novia Chiew
  • Rebecca Atwell
  • Daaniya Ahmed
  • Adralina Brown
  • Sophia Schmidt (graduate student)

Project SOAR career events took place in the WMU food lab. On February 11th, the dietetic students taught the Explorers how to prepare and cook new recipes: minestrone soup, bruschetta bread with fresh garlic topping, oven-baked chicken nuggets, and oatmeal peanut butter bars with dark chocolate topping. On February 25th the menu prepared by the WMU SDA and MTE for lunch included a quesadilla, guacamole, strawberry and tomato salad, and avocado brownies.

Dietetic students taught the Explorers kitchen measurements using proper measuring tools (i.e. cups, spoons, etc.) and how to read and follow a recipe. They also provided nutrition education on the use of the USDA’s MyPlate and how to read food labels.

 In the afternoon on February 11th, Kelli Cortez, RDN from Detroit Community Health Connection presented to the Explorer’s, “My Life as a Registered Dietitian.” Kelli explained what the registered dietitian job responsibilities are, college and internship requirements, the new Master’s degree requirement, passing the National exam, RD job opportunities, and salaries. Kelli gave an exceptional presentation and was able to make a connection with the Explorers.

MTEs were given door prizes including WMU “Nutrition & Dietetics Program” t-shirts and customized WMU aprons, writing notebooks, and pens. In addition, MTEs were shown how to make their own trail mix to take home a healthy treat.

Leatta Byrd, MA, RDN, MiAND IDEA Liaison, who designed and wrote the Project SOAR mini-grant, administered pre- and post-evaluations to MTE participants. Evaluations will be used to identify barriers and challenges that disenfranchised students may encounter in pursuing a dietetics degree and advanced training. Merze Tate Explorer’s videographer, D’arrell McMillian (MTE videographer), took pictures and video footage to capture the highlights of the Project SOAR “career” day event.

Mary Width, MS, RD, Director of the Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics, and several CPD students, carried out a Project SOAR event at their annual STEM Day on April 25, 2023.

Students from the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades visited the Nutrition and Food Science Department at WSU to learn some cool facts about nutrition and dietetics. Students were presented with a short PowerPoint about the fields of nutrition and dietetics, the coursework involved, career options, and Project SOAT. They also learned about taste and how the tongue perceives the flavors of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.

Activities included pre and post-tests, trying miracle berries, playing games, learning how much sugar is in the foods they might eat daily, and examining food models.

  • Students were presented with foods to try (strawberries, salt & vinegar potato chips, and lemons), and then given Miracle Berry tablets by mberryTM (which change how the tongue perceives flavors and makes everything taste sweet). After they dissolved the M-Berries on their tongues, they tried the foods again and were delighted to find that everything tasted sweet!
  • Students were free to examine food models that were set up around the room and vials that represented the amount of sugar in some common food items and beverages. Dietetic students were available to answer questions and interact with the kids.
  • A PowerPoint with information on Project SOAR was played continuously during the activities.

The pre-test showed that only one student had heard of the field of dietetics before the presentation and activities! The post-test showed all of the students knew about dietetics and the kind of coursework involved.

The Academy’s Diversity and Inclusion definitions of cultural competence and cultural humility are:

Cultural competence – in health care, the ability of systems to provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors, including the tailoring of health care delivery to meet patients’ social, cultural, and linguistic needs (American Hospital Association).

Cultural humility – involves the ability to maintain an interpersonal stance that is other-oriented (or open to others) in relation to aspects of cultural identity that are most important to the client. It requires practitioners to engage in self-reflection and self-critique as lifelong learners.

Diversity in the field of nutrition is important. Diverse and culturally competent Registered Dietitians Nutritionists are able to provide patients/clients with resources and tools that are culturally/ethnically sensitive. This promotes positive nutrition outcomes, without having them sacrifice their culture and traditions (Howard University Department of Nutritional Sciences).

There are valuable benefits that MiAND members can gain by participating in active community outreach and recruitment of middle and high school STEM students of color and other disenfranchised students. It strengthens the cultural competency and humility skills of practicing RD’s, students, and dietetic interns.

It’s our responsibility, if we are providing nutritional services to underrepresented and BIPOC communities, to provide culturally relevant nutritional services.  It is time to diversify the profession of dietetics. A strong recruitment undertaking can successfully bring about a more diverse profession.

Important Information

If you would like to join the MiAND IDEA Committee to receive more information and to be on our email list, please complete and submit the sign up form below. Once your sign up information is received, we will be in contact with you. Please note that you must be a member of MiAND in order to join the IDEA committee.

IDEA Committee Sign-Up

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The MiAND IDEA committee is happy to provide the information below for organizations that offer scholarships and grants. Availability and application deadlines vary for each of these opportunities, so it’s important to check their websites frequently throughout the year so that you don’t miss your chance to apply!

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation offers recognition awards, leadership recognition, and education stipends to members and dietetic student members. The Foundation accepts applications for these awards on an annual basis, although select award opportunities may be made available throughout the year.

Many awards and scholarships are available on their website that support the IDEA philosophy. You can find more information on all the awards and scholarships on the AND Foundation website and the application period for 2023 is February 15 to April 18.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Interest Groups

The Academy has a wealth of scholarships offered by various member interest groups aimed at inclusions, diversity, equity, and access. Application deadlines vary for each group and you typically need to be a member of that interest group to apply.

Academy Diversity Awards and Grants

The Academy values and respects the diverse viewpoints and individual differences of all people. The Academy actively identifies and offers inclusive opportunities to individuals with varied abilities, backgrounds, ideas, practice expertise, skills, and talents. In accordance with the objectives and strategies of the Academy’s Strategic Plan, the Academy offers awards and grants to support the diverse growth of the profession. Deadlines for applications are March 1 of each year and complete details can be found on the Academy Website (you must log in to view the information and applications).

  • Academy IDEA Promotion Grant
  • IDEA Action Award
  • IDEA Mini-Grants

Diversify Dietetics Scholarships & Grants

Diversity Dietetics has as it’s mission to increase the racial and ethnic diversity in the field of nutrition by empowering nutrition leaders of color. They offer many awards and scholarships that are available at different times of the year, so check back on Diversify Dietetics often.

Equity Impact Scholarship

CommonSpirit presents Equity Impact Scholarship. Scholarships for skills-based learning, promoting inclusion, diversity, and equity in healthcare. Learn more about Equity Impact Scholarships.

MNDI Scholarship – Vera Thompson Scholarship

In addition to the general MNDI criteria for scholarships, this scholarship ($1500.00) will be awarded to a student or intern who identifies as Black or African American. The application will open on February 13, 20203, and the deadline is April 21, 2023.

Volunteer Pool

If you are interested in signing up to be in our IDEA Volunteer Pool on an “as needed” basis, please complete the following contact information form. You will receive an email confirmation that you have been added to the IDEA Volunteer Pool list, and when an IDEA event or project becomes available, you will be contacted with details to see if you can help! Please note that you must be a member of MiAND in order to join the IDEA Volunteer Pool.

The IDEA Committee invites you to participate in a monthly book club. We will be reading about topics including implicit bias, systemic racism, and health disparities, and meeting monthly to discuss. Join us as we dig deeper into understanding these challenging and complex issues. Together, we can empower each other to be more culturally competent and better serve the populations we care for.

Find out more information and sign-up here.

IDEA Committee Members

  • MiAND IDEA Liaison & Grant Developer – Leatta Byrd
  • IDEA Grant Consultant – Libby MacQuillan
  • Student Liaison – Suzy Gadd
  • Virtual Book Club Hosts – Elizabeth Gorney & Lauren Hunt
  • Christine Frazier
  • Tina Guajardo
  • Sara Harmon
  • Amanda Latchaw
  • Rob Masterson
  • Robin Nwankwo
  • Arezoo Rojhani
  • Eva Van Artsen
  • Barbara Vukits
  • Lorraine Weatherspoon