While gathering information regarding the latest upgrade to the Fairfield Dining experience, the Bite App, it became apparent how few students know about one of the most valuable on-campus resources. Her name is Mackenzie Gordon, and she has been working closely with Sodexo to make improvements on the Bite App. Gordon graduated from the University of New Haven with a Bachelors in Nutrition and Dietetics, continued on to earn a Masters in Nutritional Science at the University of Rhode Island and became a certified dietitian in the state of Connecticut, all of which make her qualified for her current position as Fairfield University’s resident dietitian. This means that everything from the signs listing nutritional information in the Daniel and Grace Tully Dining Hall to the increased dedication to allergen protected areas can all be traced back to her.
Yet, Gordon does not limit herself to working behind the scenes. Each year, Gordon trains all resident assistants how to identify and assist someone having an allergy attack, and guides the Fairfield student-athletes into making healthy eating choices by helping them manage their diets pre, during and post games and seasons. However, these services are not only offered to student athletes. Any student interested in eating healthy or who wants to make a dietary change can schedule a one-on-one appointment with Gordon at any time by contacting her through email. The parties will then arrange a suitable time to determine how the student’s future health plans can be pushed into effect.
Junior Katie Reilly was already aware of Gordon and her position through her roles as a goalie for the club lacrosse team as well as a Health Studies minor and noted that she thinks that having a certified dietitian on campus, “can be extremely beneficial to the school to make sure the food they provide is healthy and the dietician can also provide programs to teach Fairfield students about healthy eating.”
Since Gordon was hired in October 2016, she has also organized numerous programs held both in the Tully Dining Hall and in Residence Halls to teach students how to eat mindfully throughout their college careers. For those who do not frequent the Tully, Gordon hosts cooking demonstrations, meal preparation classes and healthy eating workshops which take place in the Residence Halls. For students with large meal plans who eat most meals in the dining hall, Gordon hosts more events to assist with mindful portion control and nutritious eating. One of the most popular of these events is the “Fruit of the Week” program where Gordon selects a different fruit every seven days and incorporates it into the various Tully stations and shows how students can prepare the fruit in their own dorms. Other Tully nutrition programs include “Wellness Wednesdays” where students are taught about healthy foods, balanced eating, diet and lifestyle changes, nutrition and wellness through trivia and/or cooking demonstrations.
Gordon is continuously working on numerous projects to help students with special dietary needs. These include working with select groups of students to increase the amount of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and allergy-free options served. However, one project to look out for are the Make it Mindful tip sheets, “these assorted tip sheets will teach students and anyone dining in the Tully how they can balance their plate and ‘Make is Mindful,’” Gordon explained, “[these tip sheets] will work to help students make healthy choices at each of the stations in the dining hall.”
“My background is centered around food and healthy cooking. I love to make new healthy balanced recipes that I can share with students and faculty members. This enables them to create these recipes in their daily lives whether it be in their dorm rooms or at home cooking for their families,” Gordon concluded. Gordon hopes to gradually help Fairfield University to become a safer and healthier campus for those with, and without, food allergies and dietary restrictions — and she has already begun making leaps and bounds in this pursuit during her first year on campus.