- Keeping Up with Alumni
Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni: Leslie Bertsch
I completed a joint master’s degree in nutrition and public health and dietetic internship in 2008 and 2005, respectively, at Saint Louis University. I choose Saint Louis University’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics graduate program among many other schools because of their strong focus on community and public health nutrition. SLU was one of the programs that I examined that offered a joint master’s degree in nutrition and public health and a dietetic internship that focused on public health. I have known since I was a junior at the University of Illinois (where I completed my undergraduate degree) that I wanted to focus on community nutrition as a dietitian, and that I wanted to further study and hone my skills as a community practitioner through my dietetic internship and graduate studies. While I don’t have an alternative experience to compare to, I feel strongly that my dietetic internship at SLU was a great fit for my interest and my current career path. Throughout my internship experience, I had the opportunity to learn about important public health principles and more importantly to implement those principles during my numerous community orientated rotations. In fact, it was during one of my two-week community rotations that I experienced first-hand the job I have today at Operation Food Search.
I currently serve as the Nutrition Education Manager at Operation Food Search. As the Nutrition Education Manager I oversee a robust community nutrition education program, called Cooking Matters at Operation Food Search. Cooking Matters is a culinary-based nutrition education program that focuses on teaching underserved individuals and families how to prepare and shop for healthy foods on a budget. I manage and oversee the daily operations of the Cooking Matters program including managing a staff of four program coordinators and one AmeriCorps volunteer, networking and creating partnerships with community agencies, administering OFS’s Cooking Matters Satellite program, teaching the Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters curriculum and providing nutrition education and cooking demonstrations to low income populations of all ages in various community settings. My graduate studies at SLU’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics have prepared me well for my current role by providing me with the knowledge and practice needed to successfully direct and employ a community nutrition education program. Additionally, my time at SLU allowed me to develop relationships with key faculty and community members that I have leaned heavily on to further the reach of Cooking Matters at Operation Food Search.