Marilyn Magaram Center

Director's Message Spring 2021

March 15, 2021

Dr. Besnilian

Telehealth, virtual nutrition counseling, cloud-based diet analysis, video-based instruction and gardening at home, Zoom-based health and wellness education, virtual cooking classes, home-based food science labs, Instagram Live, IGTV…who would have thought at this time last year that we would be operating completely virtually, and who could have imagined how successfully we would serve our community during a pandemic? Although we had envisioned offering remote services and even began implementing a telehealth platformtransitioning to this reality could only have been possible through our amazing founders, Sally and Phil Magaramand with the support of our donors and sponsors and the dedication of our outstanding students and staff.  

As this year marks the MMC’s 30th anniversary, we are continually grateful for the opportunity to provide innovativecollaborative and widely-accessible programs and services that improve health outcomes and enhance quality of life for the CSUN community and beyond.   

The Marilyn Magaram Center serves the needs of diverse communities and encourages the public to draw on the special talents of our students, faculty and staff through a variety of long-standing programs, projects and services that we have successfully transitioned to virtual formats.  As the spring 2021 semester is underway, wremain dedicated to fulfilling our mission and vision through the valuable contributions of all those who are helping to advance our commitment to research, education, and community service in the fields of nutrition, dietetics and food science.  With the development and training of students on the path to becoming future health professionals as our highest priority, we are proud to further our efforts to support CSUN and the greater community by providing virtual resources, tools, and learning opportunities that are widely accessible and in alignment with current public health guidelines. 

With an emphasis on group education, the MMC Wellness Clinic continues to offer a variety of virtual workshops, services and resources for CSUN students, staff and the community“Thrive with Diabetes,” our diabetes management workshop series recognized by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), recently concluded in January and will be offered again this springOur diabetes prevention program, “PreventT2,” has also been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are pleased once again to offer the “Weight Management Made Easy” weekly workshop series from the end of February through the beginning of May, with topics such as food portions, meal planning, forming healthy habits, exercise nutrition and food trends.  Services and benefits also continue to be provided virtually to eligible participants through the NEVHC WIC supplemental nutrition program. Thanks to generous support from the Joseph Drown Foundation, we are continuing to offer free nutrition counseling telehealth consultations through the end of the spring semesterand our registered dietitians have been sharing their expertise and nutrition tips through helpful videos posted to our social media platforms.  Our Matador Marmalade, FitJam, Spicy Matador and Bee a Matador honey are now available for purchase on the CSUN Matador Bookstore website, and ware excited to announce that our new Food Science & Nutrition Experts” website has been completely redesigned to be more interactive and to serve as your one-stop source for evidence-based nutrition information, services and resources! 

The MMC Wellness Garden is being maintained on a weekly basis in accordance with campus safety protocols, and our Let’s Grow Healthy team has launched a series of instructional videos that will take place live from the garden every Thursday via Instagram.  The team continues to develop their “Gardening at Home” video series and has also created an “Ask A Master Gardener” online feature where community members can submit questions about how to keep their own plants healthy and thrivingThanks to funding provided by the Los Angeles County Supervisor’s office and the MMC HEALERS project, plans are also in the works to install a drip system and expand the Black House garden on campus. Our coordinators for the CalFresh Healthy Living initiative are continuing to implement virtual food demonstrations and online nutrition education and physical activity curriculum at CSUN and community partner sites such as the Guadalupe Center, West Valley Boys & Girls Club, and LAUSD elementary schools. In partnership with our Let’s Cook, Move and Grow program, we are also happy to report on the anticipated return of “MyPlate the Musical,” scheduled to resume this spring through virtual implementation.   

In collaboration with the CSUN Alumni Association and Chef Harold Avila, our virtual culinary classes continue to be very popular and well-received by an increasing number of participantsDuring the months of February, March and April, scheduled workshops include “Pizza Night, Egg Basics,” and Sushi & Knife Skills.” We also have plans to offer our “Matador Kids” culinary classes virtually for middle-school children through grant funding received from the American Culinary Federation’s Healthy Eating Outreach Program.  We encourage you to stay informed about all of our upcoming events, workshops and resources through our weekly MMC Virtual Events emails and quarterly e-newsletters. 

The MMC Research Lab remains active as our students prepare to present at this year’s virtual CSUNPosium on April 9thAll of our dietetic interns successfully submitted their innovative business plans to the CSUN Fast Pitch competition during the fall semester and will submit them later this spring for the CSUN Bull Ring. We are proud to announce that two of our dietetic interns, Vanessa Sanchez and Erika Girouxwon 2nd place at Fast Pitch last semester for their bilingual nutrition education and recipe app, “PowerHealth. Our Pathways Fellows have been engaging in various workshops on topics such as mentorship, applying to dietetic internships, and preparing research presentations, in addition to participating in a bi-weekly literature review journal club. The Pathways to Success program was also recently featured on the USDA NIFA website and on Twitter in a special blog post highlighting the many accomplishments of this initiativePreparations are underway for our 9th annual Public Policy Day, Covid-19 Legislation Impacting Health and Nutrition, which the MMC will host on April 19th via ZoomWe were pleased to co-sponsor the biennial California State University – Interdisciplinary Cancer Meeting (CSU-ICM) in November and also submitted a collaborative NIH grant, and as part of our multidisciplinary collaboration with the Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM (ARCS) to explore autonomy-related farming systems and technology through grant funding received from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), we have certainly found new meaning in reaching “beyond” the CSUN community! 

As a reminder, the most up-to-date COVID-19 information can be found on the CSUN website at According to the CDC guidelines, when you engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventative actions.  

Wishing you and your loved ones good health and safety, now and always.   

Annette Besnilian, EdD, MPH, RDN, FAND 

Executive Director, Magaram Center