/ Nutrition

Celebrating Black Leaders in Nutrition and Dietetics

This #BlackHistoryMonth, we’re celebrating Black leaders in nutrition and dietetics. Director of Nutrition Services at God’s Love, Lisa Zullig, along with her department came up with a list of inspiring Black leaders in the field who they invited to share their thoughts on community nutrition. Read through this amazing list of quotes from these very inspiring thinkers!

“I empower clients to realize that what they already know has value and that their knowledge can be applied to facilitate dietary and lifestyle change. I am simply there to partner with them in this process within their community.” Of working in the community, Emily says, “Community RDNs have the responsibility of promoting and improving the health of the community in which they work. To do this effectively within the African-American community, the RDN must understand the social determinants influencing the health of the community and provide actionable advice under the inherent disadvantaged conditions of the African-American community.”

“I was first exposed to the concept of community nutrition at NYU by my Professor Michelle Futrell, a Black dietitian who had a profound effect on my life as a professional role model, because representation matters and as a person, because she was tough but kind. She taught me about giving back to the community through my work. Because of her influence, my first job out of graduate school was working with WIC at Betances Health Center, a FQHC, serving low-income, ethnically diverse families on the Lower East Side. I would stay in that role for four years. I continued to seek out ways to address the needs of the communities I served in Bed Stuy and Harlem by building chronic disease management programs.  I have recently moved out of the nonprofit space, having spent 7 years at City Health Works as its Chief Health Officer into the health tech space as the VP of Clinical Operations at One Drop. In my journey, one thing has been my guiding principle, to continue to impact communities, far and wide, by helping as many people with chronic conditions as effectively and efficiently as I can.”

“Representation matters. It’s important that people have the option to seek help from individuals who look like them and who identify with them. This is all the more critical in the field of nutrition, as diet-related diseases are among the top causes of mortality – truly a matter of life and death.  I applaud Black dietitians serving communities of color, which continue to bear the consequences of historical and present-day systemic racism, and deeply value their important contributions to the field. “

“As a dietitian, it’s important for me to reach communities who not only might not have access to healthcare, but also might not even know what a dietitian is. There are only 2.6% of Black dietitians and I think that number needs to increase for many reasons. People generally take advice and feel comfortable from those that not only understand their culture, but also look like them. I also think it’s important for people to realize that their cultural foods are not “unhealthy” just because it’s not mainstream. There are numerous ways to nourish the body and leaving behind your cultural roots, shouldn’t have to be one of them.”

“As black communities continue to face barriers that put them at greater risk for health conditions, many of which are diet-related like, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, it is clear that there is a need for transformational change that addresses the systematic issues plaguing this country. Black communities are surrounded by junk food with little access to fresh produce, poor education, and low-quality health care, including the cultural bias embedded within the system, plus many other social determinants of health. Diversifying the field of dietetics and those who work in Community Nutrition both in the backgrounds of students but also in the education and experience provided to all dietitians to ensure quality culturally appropriate services are provided is a step in the right direction. As we celebrate Black History Month and I see my community largely impacted by COVID-19 it’s more important than ever for communities to have access to dietitians who can feed, advocate, educate and fight on their behalf for a healthier and more equitable future.”