March is recognized as National Nutrition Month (NNM), and we are celebrating all month on social media and our website! Each week, we will share profiles from our incredible Nutrition Team. They are Open Arms’ food and health experts, and they play a critical role in our mission by creating and approving ALL medically tailored recipes for Open Arms’ meals, as well as providing nutritional counseling and education directly to clients with life-threatening illnesses.
This week’s spotlight is on Sarah Cohen, Dietetic Technician!
My name is Sarah Cohen (she/her/hers), and I’m thrilled to celebrate my 1-year anniversary as Dietetic Technician, Registered with Open Arms this March!
My initial college degree was a BA in studio art from Grinnell College in Iowa. When I decided to begin a new career path, I attended classes at Minneapolis Community & Technical College then transferred to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, where I completed my BS in nutrition.
Why did you decide you wanted to become an RD/DTR?
Through my own experiences with chronic illness, I know sometimes you have to fight to eat – I want to be a partner for others in their fight. I find the nutrition field incredibly fulfilling, because helping people access nourishing food is such an important, personal way to help them heal and thrive.
Provide a brief description of your career path:
I spent my first couple years out of college in food service, then landed a job at an insurance company, where I moved into an adjudicator role for family and medical leave. Later, after a handful of school semesters spent working part time, I dove into nutrition coursework full time. I’ve had some wonderful opportunities to learn about and teach nutrition through the UMN campus and other community programs, and I feel extremely grateful to be doing that now at Open Arms.
What does your role look like at Open Arms?
Part of my role is client-facing: I provide nutrition screening and counseling for our clients, and seek to connect them with the support they need. The other part is more behind the scenes: I like to create nutrition education resources as well as design tools that help our team save time to reach more clients.
What do you love about what you do:
I love hearing from our clients about the meaningful impact that Open Arms has on their lives. I also love being around our staff, interns, and volunteers every day in the building – every single person is so warm generous, and kind!
What do you think is the future of nutrition and dietetics?
I believe that the future of dietetics centers around helping families and communities reclaim their own food culture, reconnecting them to a way of eating that is sustainable and promotes health, freedom, and social interconnection. We need to bring this piece of our humanity actively back into our lives.
Discuss what being a DTR entails and how it differs from an RD.
RDs and DTRs work as a team in a variety of settings in the field. Depending on their competencies and specific role, DTRs may manage or supervise projects or units within an organization. In direct client care, DTRs are qualified to conduct nutrition screenings and provide nutrition guidance to populations who are generally healthy. At Open Arms, which mostly serves clients with serious illnesses or health complications, a DTR may provide those services under supervision of an RD.