Dietetic Career Spotlight: Stephanie Nishio, MPH, RD, Farm to Family
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on MARCH 20, 2012
Sarah Koszyk, RD, interviews Stephanie Nishio, MPH, RD, a food to family dietitian at the California Association of Food Banks. I truly enjoyed learning her unique story. A very special and practical application of a nutrition outreach program. Enjoy. And thank you for taking the precious time to vote in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Elections and your State District. The national percent that voted was still only at 14%. Many states (California!) were even less that that. Room for improvement for next year. Congratulations to those that were elected to serve our profession! – Stacey Dunn-Emke, MS RD
Food banks, farmers, and the community inspire Stephanie Nishio, MPH, RD, to shine and continue helping others so that no person goes hungry and all people can get the nutrition they need.
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I really liked science and loved that nutrition applied science to everyday life and health outcomes. The unjust reality that some people and communities have access to the foods that help them maintain their health and others do not drew me to public health and my current work with food banks.
Your Job Title?
Director of Programs. I work with food banks on their CalFresh outreach and nutrition education programs.
Company you are with now?
California Association of Food Banks. In addition to CalFresh outreach and nutrition education, CAFB also runs a program called Farm to Family. Last year, Farm to Family worked with growers, packers, shippers, and California’s food banks to distribute more than 120 million pounds of fresh produce to low income Californians.
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you.
Everyday brings new challenges and new opportunities to learn. Aside from the typical zillion emails and phone calls, I don’t really have a usual day. But, a usual week generally involves talking to a few callers about CalFresh (formerly food stamps/California’s name for SNAP), meetings, talking with our partners at the state/federal levels, gathering successes from partners/problem solving with partners, and moving various projects forward. My favorite days are the ones where I am able to go visit our food bank and other CBO partners’ CalFresh outreach programs. Seeing them in action and learning more about their programs and the impact they are having on their communities never fails to inspire me.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I feel like I was in the right place at the right time. As a student, guest speakers and professors
always talked about the importance of networking and letting people know what you’re looking for, which I fully endorse. Networks are also good for finding out what you’re getting yourself into!
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
Things that come naturally: curiosity/love of learning, taking the initiative, stick-to-it-ness, meeting deadlines. Skills I’ve developed or that are (still) in development: knowing my audience and adapting appropriately, delegating, fostering leadership, becoming an effective trainer, advocating…and so many more!
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Love what you do and find challenges that keep you engaged and allow you to grow/gain new skills. I also think it’s as important to invest time and energy into professional relationships as it is for personal ones. I feel really lucky to get to work with people I consider friends.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?: Without a doubt: International travel!