CUCE-NYC Intern Helps Young Mother Make Healthy Changes

michaljaff_internBy Michal Jaff

I absolutely loved my time as a dietetic intern at Cornell Cooperative Extension New York City. During my community rotation at CUCE-NYC I was able to experience the work of a community dietitian by assisting CUCE-NYC community educators and running cooking demonstrations at various farmers’ markets across the city. Once the farmers’ markets closed for the winter I assisted nutrition educators in different public schools, in educator courses and in ESL classes.

I was truly able to make a connection with people and make a difference in their food choices. It was such a wonderful experience because of my amazing mentor and supervisor Linda Ameroso. She constantly motivated me to be a better educator and taught me some valuable life lessons that will help me in my career as a dietitian.

During my rotation at the Harlem Hospital Farmers’ Market I met a 26-year-old Hispanic mother Candida who was expecting her third child. She had just left a meeting at Harlem Hospital where they were instructing expectant women about health issues pertaining to them and their children.

On her way out of the hospital she noticed the farmers’ market and came over hoping to have some of her questions answered. She did not understand why the presenter emphasized the importance of drinking skim milk or 1% milk. She did not want to change the milk she and her children consumed because they loved the taste of whole milk.

That’s when I decided to explain the importance of switching to skim milk. The USDA recommends switching to skim milk when a child turns two to avoid making the child consume unnecessary fats.

Candida had always loved the taste of whole milk but she never realized that it was the fat content in the milk that made it thick and tasty. She began to understand that although the fat would be beneficial for her babies now her children would increase their chances of developing health problems later in life if they continued drinking whole milk.

We then discussed the importance of switching milks at a gradual pace. I realized I had made a difference in her life when I saw her write all that I was telling her. Providing Candida with some easy tips to eat healthy made it less overwhelming for her to change and to better her life and the lives of her children. 

Although I never saw Candida again, I believe she took that small step of changing the milk in her house, leading to big nutritional improvements for her family.


Bio: Michal Jaff is a nutritionist enrolled in the CUNY Brooklyn College Dietetics internship program, and is a graduate of Yeshiva University.  Her graduate thesis at Brooklyn College focuses on infants and food allergies. She is preparing for her Registered Dietitian credential and hopes to work in the neonatal intensive care unit or to work as a nutrition educator for low-income families. She completed her community rotation by interning with Cornell University Cooperative Extension – New York City’s Nutrition and Health program from August 2015 to November 2015. She spent her time at farmers’ markets promoting healthy eating and nutrition education, and was also involved with community nutrition work in low-income neighborhoods. She is currently completing her clinical rotation at Gouverneur Skilled Nursing facility in New York City.

Learn more about our Nutrition and Health education programs here.