Dietitians are an integral part of many foodservice teams. When it comes to patient care/consumer satisfaction, dietitians are in the position to directly obtain feedback and use it to improve foodservice operations.
The University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Internship offers approximately 8 weeks of food service experience. The rotations that are typically used include:
- Montgomery County Public Schools
- St. Agnes Hospital
- UMD Campus Dining
These rotations are subject to change based on availability. Each location offers a unique experience that will be remembered throughout the internship and beyond! Upon completion of this program, interns have the ability to use what they learned about informatics and communications to analyze the data they can collect and use it to successfully improve their workplace environments.
Montgomery County Public Schools
An intern’s time in this rotation can be spent working with staff to prepare and distribute food to elementary and/or middle school students. Interns also learn about the flow of food in different facilities and the importance of food safety in these settings. Recently, interns have had the unique experience of observing the impact of current food supply chain shortages on student nutrition and satisfaction, which is talked about in this blog post about one partnered pair’s experiences.
St. Agnes Hospital
St. Agnes Hospital offers the opportunity to work in various areas of foodservice operations in the hospital setting. On the tray line, interns work to ensure patient satisfaction by test tasting and taking temperatures of patient food trays. In the kitchen, interns can prepare and serve food in the cafeteria. Interns even have the opportunity to choose and plan their own theme meal to serve in the retail cafeteria!
Through this experience one intern shared, “I learned a lot about the importance of planning and being time efficient. I also gained an immense amount of appreciation for all the staff.” Click here for an inside scoop of how a partnered pair turned into chefs for the day!
UMD Campus Dining
Campus Dining gives a unique combination of foodservice and community nutrition experiences under one rotation. Here, interns can get a behind the scenes look at the differences between several foodservice operations on just one campus. This rotation gives interns the ability to tailor some of their experience to their interests. Some of these experiences include working in an allergen-free kitchen, learning about sports nutrition in UMD’s new state-of-the-art facility, and spending a week focusing on UMD’s sustainability practices. Interns can also use their creativity to create bulletin boards, design a poster for in-services, and create infographics geared towards students to be used in different settings.
Past interns have spent one to two weeks with campus sustainability. This experience can include spending a day harvesting and processing food on Terp Farm, developing opportunities for nutrition education at the campus pantry, assisting with cooking demos that use produce from Terp Farm, and working at UMD’s Farmers Market.
Informatics in Foodservice Operations
Informatics can play a key role in improving different types of foodservice operations. Its potential can be reflected in the interns’ projects at each site. Infographics can be used to tailor nutrition education to different audiences, and data analysis can be used to identify trends in food waste and patient satisfaction.
An excellent example of informatics in practice comes from Frederick County Farm to School Program’s recent Food Waste Series. An intern had the pleasure to develop a handout (below) to educate children and their families about home-orientated food preservation methods. Learn more about this intern’s experience at Frederick County Farm to School through his blog post!