Marilyn Magaram Center

Director’s Message

June 15, 2020

Dr. Besnilian

“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!

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.  One-on-one nutrition counseling telehealth consults continue to be provided by our registered dietitians, and we are offering a special promotion during summer 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 in one of the categories 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. 

We recognize the gravity of all that is happening in the world right now – outrage over the unjust killings of so many in the Black community, the necessary fight for racial equality and social justice, the desperate need for prosecution and policy change – all in the midst of a pandemic that leaves us restricted and full of uncertainty. These circumstances have impacted our staff, students, and communities with a mixture of valid emotions and concerns, as we are confronted with the effects of systemic racism and injustice and what we must do to change the status quo.  In our vision to be the recognized center of excellence in food sciences, nutrition and dietetics serving the global community, we acknowledge that this is a time for us to pause, to listen, to evaluate, and to take action.  We will continue to uphold our mission to enhance and promote health and well-being through research, education and services, and collaborations with our campus and community partners will focus on expanding our programs to serve additional students, helping to increase diversity in our field through mentorship, research opportunities and scholarships. 

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.  June 15th commemorated the MMC’s 29th dedication anniversary – now and always, we commit to leading a center that is sensitive to the needs of our community and that strives to uphold fairness and equity in all we do.  

As a reminder, you can find the most recent CSUN COVID-19 updates here. 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 as we continue to persevere in these challenging times.

Annette A Besnilian

Executive Director, Magaram Center