OXFORD, Miss. - Students studying dietetics at the
University of Mississippi got hands-on experience and
influenced the lives of some high school students in
late November thanks to a $7,500 grant from the
Mississippi chapter of the March of Dimes.
The “New Futures” program, administered at South Panola
High School in Batesville, focused on educating
students about the dangers of poor nutrition during
pregnancy, the risk factors of premature labor and the
importance of learning how to set goals to continue
their education, said Teresa Carithers, chair of the
Department of Family and Consumer Science and principal
investigator for the grant.
Dietetics students who received scholarships to gain
their Nutrition Data System certification were trained
to use the NDS software for interactive dietary data
collection and nutrition calculations. The
calculations provide analyses and educational support
for the program.
The NDS database includes more than 150,000 foods and
6,000 different product names that prompt the user to
describe food intake in great detail to explain the
benefits of good nutrition. Ultimately, the information
can be used for dietary research.
“Close to 50 South Panola students participated and
received incentives and hopefully new knowledge that
will help them build better futures,” Carithers said.
Martha Lynn Johnson, who oversees grant programs at the
high school, said the New Futures program is extremely
successful in reaching high school students, many of
whom have limited knowledge about proper nutrition.
“It really raises their conscience level about what
they are eating for the health of their baby and for
themselves,” she said. “They seem to listen better when
they get the information from speakers outside the
school district, and they really do learn.”
Carithers said there are a number of advantages to
programs like this that bring different educational
institutions together to address a problem.
“Collaborative community-based initiatives provide
needed services to local organizations, give our
students valuable hands-on experience and build
potential relationships,” she said.
UM graduate student Lacy Myrick of Kosciusko served as
the project coordinator, and Julian Gillian assisted
with the academic goal-setting presentation. NDS
scholarship participants from the department included
Myrick, Ashley Gruber of Birmingham, Ala., Sonya Hopson
of Oxford, Wanda McKean of Oxford, Kin Pang of Senai,
Malaysia, Shira Scott of Clarksdale and Katherine
Sullivan of Diamondhead.
For more information on the Department of Family and
Consumer Sciences, visit