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Nurturing Youthful Minds with Melissa Dukquits, MS, RDN

Who Is The Real Expert?

A seed was planted in my brain about a month ago, a seed that soon grew into a beautiful idea. It all started with the realization that nobody truly has all the answers out there. No matter how engaged we are in our education or how long we drag out the schooling process, we still cannot declare ourselves an expert on everything. But can we still be an expert in one thing?

Expert: (noun) a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.

Okay so I guess individually, we can be experts in somethings like sports but in the world of nutrition, this is were it gets a bit more complicated. Nutrition has several different branches of interest, some specialize in medical nutrition, others seek sports nutrition. Still, others study weight management, community nutrition, disease prevention, commercial nutrition, food service management, food allergies, eating disorders etc. There is a route for every Registered Dietitian out there, something for everyone. You can see why being an expert in every field of nutrition is nearly impossible.

So this began my journey in search for the real experts in each field of nutrition. 


The Importance of Community Nutrition



Meet Melissa Dukquits, she is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist from College Station, TX who works at the Brazos Valley Food Bank as their ‘Nutrition Education Coordinator’. That’s a big mouthful, an even longer title but this doesn’t even compare to the size of her heart. Everything is bigger in Texas and this woman’s patience is one true example.

She and I have had the privilege of getting to know one another this past year when I started volunteering for the food bank. I assisted Melissa on numerous occasions, visiting elementary schools once a month to educate the children about the importance of eating right. Yes, that’s right, we not only try to shove vegetables down adults throats but we also try to make fruits and vegetables fun for kindergarteners.

She teaches a lesson plan geared towards the body’s organs (heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, etc) that helps explain what specific foods are good for each organ and why. Visiting the schools in the beginning, the kids did not know much about nutrition. They thought soda was flavored water, french fries were vegetables from the ground, and jelly donuts were tasty fruit. It’s been an amazing process, watching the kids grasp what good nutrition is and actually wanting to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in their meals.

The reality is, these monthly visits may be the only nutrition education these children ever get. Some areas were food is scarce, and poverty is high the danger of food insecurity is very real. When the children go home at night, the level of nutrition education their parents have might be limited. Do their parents even have a computer to research what foods may be lacking in their diet? Maybe the parents don’t even have the money to buy fresh vegetables this month. 

This is why nutrition education is so important, we start educating young so they can start eating good young.




The Interview


I only asked a few questions on the topic but they were good enough to share with all of you. Here is a look into what her job looks like, who benefits and why it’s so darn important

  1. ME: What do you think is the least discussed or most overlooked topic of nutrition in public school is?


2. ME: Why do you think nutrition education starting at a young age is so important?



3. ME: You’ve been in the ‘Food Educator’ role for a while now, what is the most surprising thing you have heard or experienced while teaching young children about nutrition?


4. ME: During the last couple of months of implementing nutrition into elementary school classrooms, have you noticed the retention rate increase?



5. ME: Take me through a typical nutrition lesson you would give to elementary school aged kids.



Insight from Melissa:“It is vital for proper child nutrition education and for the parents to be on board as well because kids develop so many ideas and tastes from their parents. If the parents knew this, that what they eat or drink ultimately sets their child up for either health or illness, this could help them in the long run.”


She is changing lives with nutrition,

one small step at a time.

Thanks Melissa, here’s to you!


Want to hear more? Here is a video on YouTube that explains Hunger & Health and what it looks like.


This is an original interview conducted by Stephanie Rackley for ‘The Healthy Chew’ -All rights reserved


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