December 18, 2018  

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Southern Miss Nutrition Students Lead Educational Sessions at Hawkins Elementary

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Students from The University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Nutrition and Food Systems are providing educational sessions to the teachers and parents of Hawkins Elementary School in Hattiesburg.

As part of the Healthy Hawkins program, facilitated by the Office of Health Promotion’s Health is Golden Initiative, dietetic students are providing 30-minute nutrition education sessions to participants.

“So far the participants have received a general overview of MyPlate and tips for eating healthy on the go,” said LaShaundrea Crook, instructor and research dietitian. “During the next two sessions the students will present information on eating healthy on a budget and sodium control.”

The Healthy Hawkins program is a comprised of four sessions held every Tuesday in March. Teachers and parents are invited to attend exercise classes led by instructors from the Southern Miss Payne Center followed by a nutrition session led by dietetic students.

"The opportunity to participate in the Heathy Hawkins program is a wonderful learning experience for both us as students and for the attendees,” said Madeline Thornton, a junior nutrition and dietetics major. “I feel the parents and teachers at Hawkins Elementary gain a better understanding of what it means to live a healthy lifestyle, no matter how busy their schedule." 

Jodi Ryder, director of the Health is Golden Initiative, said the goal of the Healthy Hawkins program is to encourage teachers and parents to move and increase their knowledge of exercise and nutrition. “We hope this will not only educate and inspire participants regarding health, but also help them spread this information to their kids,” said Ryder.

Learn more about the College of Health’s Department of Nutrition and Food Systems at For more about the Health is Golden Initiative, visit