“He who has health has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.” –Thomas Carlyle
To safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and faculty as a result of COVID-19, the Marilyn Magaram Center has completely transitioned to virtual operations as we develop and implement new and innovative methods of offering our many programs, projects and services. As a service-oriented center, the MMC provides individual, student, patient, and community services and projects and most of these activities take place in person. It goes without saying that transitioning such services and programs to virtual formats has been challenging, but I am so proud of how hard our staff and students have been working to become innovative and creative in continuing to meet the needs of the CSUN community and beyond.
In addition to creating and delivering virtual content through various online workshops and demonstrations, we are offering recipe and diet analysis as well as nutrition counseling through telehealth consultations. Our internship programs have also transitioned from hands-on to virtual formats, as we remain dedicated to the development and training of students on the path to becoming future health professionals. While these are difficult and uncertain times, we are committed to serving our students and the community as we provide resources, tools, and learning opportunities in the fields of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science.
In collaboration with Human Resources, the MMC offered a virtual culinary workshop entitled “Meals From the Pantry” on April 15th via Zoom for CSUN faculty and staff. This workshop focused on how to prepare easy, balanced meals from shelf-stable ingredients commonly found at food pantries and that have a long shelf life, such as healthy canned items. Recipes included Tuna Green Salad, Rainbow Poke Bowl with Salmon, Tomato Soup, Turkey Chili, Pasta Primavera, and Peanut Butter Trail Mix Cookies. Additional virtual workshops included “Measuring Your Body's Calorie and Nutrition Needs the Right Way” and “Healthy Snacking While Staying at Home” on May 12th and 13th. Stay tuned, as we are also looking into the possibility of offering more interactive culinary classes online in the near future!
On April 20th, the MMC hosted the 8th annual Public Policy Day virtually through Zoom. “Legislation Impacts All” was this year’s theme and topics of discussion included critical food and nutrition issues affecting our communities, how to make an impact through advocacy and public policy, and simple and effective ways to communicate with policymakers. The keynote speakers were Dr. Christina Hecht, Senior Policy Advisory for the Nutrition Policy Institute (UC Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources) and Brenda O’Day, Vice President of Public Policy for the California Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
With a continued focus on group education classes, the Magaram Center’s “Eat to Be Fit” free weight management program was held weekly in collaboration with “Commit to Be Fit,” a free fitness program through the Kinesiology department. Both programs were offered virtually for participants in light of COVID-19 restrictions. Over the summer, we will be coordinating a free online diabetes management program, “Thrive with Diabetes,” as a series of virtual workshops with information on healthy eating and exercise, monitoring symptoms and medications, and staying motivated. In addition, our “PreventT2” diabetes prevention program will be transitioning from in-person classes to an online format, offering participants the benefit of working with a trained lifestyle coach to learn the skills necessary to make lasting changes. Both “PreventT2” and “Thrive with Diabetes” programs are free and open to students, faculty, staff, and community members. And for those interested in one-on-one counseling with a Registered Dietitian, we are also offering a special promotion during the month of June to include a free a follow-up session with the purchase of an initial nutrition counseling session for new clients.
The MMC Research Lab has remained active with student participation and accomplishments. In this year’s CSUNPosium via Zoom on March 27th, our students received 1st place for “MyPlate Musical: Qualitative Analysis” and 2nd place for “Whole Body, Whole Health Wellness Workshop,” and one of our teams advanced to the semi-finals of this year’s Bull Ring for the nutritional supplement, “ProJel.” Our USDA Pathways Fellows had the honor of presenting their research at the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) annual conference in the month of March, which included the effectiveness of garden-enhanced nutrition education as well as the CSUN Champions for Change program (now known as CalFresh Healthy Living). Additionally, one of our Pathways graduate students, Guadalupe Alfaro, was selected as a 2020 USDA-Caminos Fellow at the conference. Current theses defense have also included research by Mariah Haroon for the Calahan Chicken Project, Elizabeth Kaoh for antioxidant testing, and Griseida Ruiz and Tania Menachegani Khachatourians for MatadorPRO protein bars.
The MMC Wellness Garden continues to be maintained on a weekly basis, and the Let’s Grow Healthy team is developing online workshops in gardening education as well as a series of instructional videos from the garden. Our coordinators for the CalFresh Healthy Living initiative are also conducting food demonstration videos online and providing COVID-19 information and resources through social media, in addition to offering virtual classes through the West Valley Boys & Girls Club. They are currently implementing their curricula with students via Zoom with “Pick a Better Snack” for elementary school and “Choose Health, Fun and Fitness” for teenagers.
The MMC was honored to release our 3rd edition of the MMC Wellness Kitchen Cookbook as a unique compilation of Marilyn Magaram’s original recipes. A donor appreciation luncheon was also held on campus on March 1st that highlighted the release of this collection curated in Marilyn’s honor, featuring a taste of low-calorie gourmet recipes adapted from her original “Kitchen Kapers” cookbook in a four-course dining experience along with tours, demonstrations, and special recognition of the Drown Foundation. We are sincerely grateful for the continued support of all of our donors, sponsors, and campus and community partners!
The Marilyn Magaram Center continues to advance its significant commitment to research, education, and community service in the fields of nutrition, food science, and dietetics through extensive collaborations with students, faculty, professionals, community organizations, businesses, and industries. We are structuring our activities around long-standing projects and programs while expanding in exciting new directions for even greater impact on the communities we serve. The center will continue to operate 100% virtually in accordance with federal, state and university guidelines until further notice, and I would like to thank everyone for being flexible, patient, and understanding as we determine how many of our services, projects, programs, and workshops will be implemented. The dedication and hard work of our faculty, staff and students has truly been instrumental as well as inspiring, as we remain steadfast in fulfilling our mission and vision during these unprecedented times.
Wishing you and your loved ones good health and safety, now and always.