Intern Blog: Abby Zarate


Intern Blog: Abby Zarate

My name is Abby Zarate, and I am a University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) dietetic intern. I came to the Galveston Country Food Bank for my community rotation. My rotation was for four weeks during March and April. During my time I go to work on various educational and supplemental programs. I used the evidence-based curriculum such as Color Me Healthy, Organwise Guys, and MyPlate My Family for SNAP-ED, Farmers Market and Corner Store projects. Another project I worked on was Homebound Nutritional Outreach Program which was supported by the Senior Hunger Grant Initiative. Color Me Healthy was used for children 4 to 5. The evidence-based curriculum focuses on teaching children about fruits, vegetables, and physical activity through color, music, and 5 senses. MyPlate for My Family was used for cooking demonstrations for adults and middle school kids. Each lesson was demonstrated with a corresponding recipe.

While working on the corner store project, we got to work with a store on Galveston Island to enhance healthy options in their store. The store manager was excited to have us come in and help provide healthy options and teach him. To help educate him and other store owners, I created a guide to teach them what to look for in healthy foods, how to maximize their store organization, and what federal programs they can accept with certain standards.

Through these four weeks, I have learned a lot about how GCFB interacts with the surrounding communities and the amount of effort given to provide healthy options and nutrition education.

During my first couple of weeks, I would observe and assist with nutrition education and cooking classes. I would create recipe cards, nutrition facts labels, and build activities for classes. Later in my rotation, I helped create recipe videos. Also, I edited them for the GCFB YouTube channel. Throughout my time, I created handouts for educational purposes.

When working on the Senior Hunger Program, I evaluated medically tailored boxes with Ale Nutrition Educator, MS. This was interesting to see how they constructed the boxes based on usual food and specially ordered foods. Furthermore, we compared the nutritional values recommended for a nutritional disease state.

In my third week, I got to design an activity for the parents in our evening class. I created a MyPlate-themed Scattergories game. During this week I also got to attend the Galveston’s Own Farmers Market with the food bank. We demonstrated food safety practices and knife skills. The recipe of the week of ‘garlic shrimp stir fry.’ Many of the vegetables used in the dish came from the farmer’s market that day. We had a meeting with Seeding Galveston and got to see their vision for the future and how they want to be more involved with the community. Their program offers amazing vegetables and plants for people to buy weekly. I and other UTMB interns were able to attend a Korean cooking class. This event was amazing and opened my eyes to Korean cuisine and culture.

In my last week, I got to lead a class at an elementary school. To teach the class I used the evidence-based curriculum Organwise Guys. Organwise Guys focuses on elementary school age children and teaching them to have a healthy diet, drink water, and exercise. This program shows how all the organs in our bodies help keep us healthy and active, and how we can keep them healthy. I taught over the first week, this week focused on learning about the individual organs and how they contribute to the body. The activity I created was kids got to pick their favorite organ from the Organwise guys. Once they chose their favorite organ, they had to write an interesting fact and something new they learned about the organ. Next, they got to share to the class their Organwise Guy info and take it home to tell their parents.

All in all, the nutrition staff works very hard to make healthy living fun and enjoyable through various avenues. It has been a joy and pleasure to work with such an amazing team that cares for the Galveston County community.