Milwaukee Dietitians (RD’s) and Dietetic Technicians (DTRs) ran with the opportunity to create a healthier environment at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center during March 2012 National Nutrition Month. As soon as the 2012 theme “Shape Up Your Plate” was announced by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a team of Milwaukee RD’s and DTRs began feverishly listing the events they wanted to share with Veterans, family members, and VA employees during the month.

“The month was a huge success,” says Jean Wroblewski, Program Manager of Nutrition and Food Services, Milwaukee VA Medical Center. Numerous hours were devoted towards activities that would reach a large audience within the medical center. The month started off with an interactive ‘Lunch and Learn’ to discuss healthy eating for busy lifestyles. The Lunch and Learn provided food samples and food demonstrations for Veterans and VA employees.

Milwaukee VA nutrition professionals were recognized the following week on Registered Dietitian/Dietetic Technician Day with a celebratory lunch. The meal consisted of a plethora of healthy foods to celebrate the RD’s/DTR’s themselves: tilapia tacos with cabbage slaw and fresh lime juice, fresh quinoa salad, and chocolate oat squares for dessert.

Touting the 2nd Annual Nutrition Fair as their nutrition grand slam event of the month, the dietitians and dietetic technicians focused their expertise on the “Shape Up Your Plate” theme. Employees, Veterans, and families learned how to use the “plate method” to create ‘My Healthy Breakfast’, ‘My Healthy Lunch’, and ‘My Healthy Dinner’ options. Chef Paul Brinkman showed off his culinary expertise with a healthy food demonstration of pasta accompanied with stir-fried vegetables, lean turkey breast, and a low-fat Alfredo sauce. Attendees were wowed with food samples, demonstrations, and medical & nutritional experts. With the assistance of the facility Public Affairs Officer and Medical Media, the event was captured in Milwaukee VA Today.

To finish the month with a bang, RD’s and DTRs asked Veterans Canteen Service to provide three healthy entrees available to all Veterans, patrons, and employees as menu items available for purchase. Healthy meals included Turkey Tacos with fresh cilantro, tomato, and avocado, Black Bean Turkey Burritos, and Chicken Stir-fry. On this day, Food Service Workers and Food Service Supervisors threw RD’s & DTR’s a “Thank you Reception” complete with muffins, yogurt, vegetables, and fruit.

“Everyone did an awesome job getting the healthy plate initiative across. Our dietitians and dietetic technicians really brought the concept to the forefront to patients and staff,” stated Wroblewski.

Kayleen Wichlinski, R.D., C.D. is the Training Dietitian at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Published on Apr. 16, 2012

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2 Comments

  1. Carol April 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    As I read this article I couldn’t help but wonder if vegetarian and vegan meals and snacks were considered. So many preventable illnesse can be avoided if the vegetarian and vegan eating lifestyle were adopted. On the rare occasion I go to the Canteen, the vegetarian options are extremely limited and vegan meals are non-existant. Also, why are high fat, salt, sugar and heavily processed foods part of the canteen services and inpatient meals? At the Denver VA Burger King was a vendor-thankfully they’re gone, but another high fat/salt/heavily processed vendor replaced this fast/junk food vendor. It seems to me that if VA were serious about teaching veterans healthy food options, it would actually include healthy foods. It is my hope that VA as a whole considers incorporating more vegetarian and vegan food options for veterans. Thank you.

    • Rick April 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

      In reply to Carol’s comment about vegetarian/vegan options at the VA and in the VA canteen: I agree with Carol’s sentiment that VA should consider vegetarin/vegan diets. I’ve watched “Forks over Knive’s”, “Food, Inc.”, “Supersize Me” and other documentary films that consider diet and health. I know that I need to improve my diet and exercise choices. As to why VA does not offer Vegitarina/Vegan options I think that is because VA has to follow the lead of it’s sister department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the factory farms and food processors have the USDA in their back pocket!

      All that being said, I did attend the Milwaukee VAMC nutrition fair (Twice!! they had free food.) and I appreciate the work that the Milwaukee VAMC nutrition professionals do for the veterans and staff.

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