Graduate students in West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design are helping improve the University’s overall wellness by providing new health strategies to faculty and staff.

Each Friday until Thanksgiving Break, the Student Dietetic Association is hosting a Lunch and Learn session on the Evansdale Campus. Each program will focus on a different aspect of nutrition and physical activity to help maximize the body’s healthy performance.

Jessica Brantner, a nutritional and food science graduate student from Harrisburg, Pa., is the series’ organizer. Understanding the realities of busy campus life, Brantner said her goal is to help others make the healthiest choices possible —like the best options vending machines have to offer or the best exercising routes when walking across campus.

The series is not the same as the corporate WVU Lunch and Learn sessions; Brantner and the Didactic Program in Dietetics have independently organized their own series as a part of their DPD Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway Dietetic Internship to improve worksite wellness.

While they learn and prepare for their possible careers, the students are also contributing to the wellbeing of the WVU community.

“I feel like it’s a sense of giving back to the staff, not just the teachers and faculty but also the maintenance workers and anyone really,” Brantner said. “I think it’s a sense of community involvement because they’ve done so much for us. It’s also part of our focus as a higher education institute is to give back to the community both on and off campus.”

After finishing her undergraduate studies in May, Brantner spent part of the summer putting the series together with Mary Salvatore, a nutritional and food science student intern from Stephens City, Va., who is the primary presenter of the series.

Improving wellness in the workplace not only adds years to one’s life but saves money on health care costs as well.

“We’re not here to tell you how to eat; it’s more about awareness to your overall health,” Brantner said. “It’s not just nutritional wellness but also physical and spiritual wellness.”

Fall 2012 marks the first semester the DPD has organized an independent lunch and learn series—and more are in the planning phases for the spring semester. Brantner and Salvatore plan to coordinate with WVU Employee Wellness for the spring series.

Sessions start at noon and are held in room 1001 in the Agricultural Sciences Building (the big auditorium.) The remaining sessions for the fall semester are:

• Nov. 9: Eating Well on Evansdale Campus
• Nov. 16: Cut Out the Stress!

Funding for the series comes from the WVU Davis College’s Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences.

For more information, contact Jessica Brantner at


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