Lehigh's Student Nutrition Ambassadors Cate Coffino, ’25, Katherine Luskin, ’26, Maeve Diver, ’25, and Justine Pavia, ’23 serve matcha energy balls at the Lehigh Health Center on March 24, 2023. The nutrition ambassadors also gave away KIND granola bars, recipes and health information. (Amanda Rowan/B&W Staff)

Student nutrition ambassadors promote healthy eating


College is the first time many students live alone and are fully responsible for their health. With this new freedom comes the need to nourish oneself frequently and substantially.

According to a Northwestern Medicine study, 95% of college students fail to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, and 60% do not get enough physical activity.

Bella Clark, ‘26, said the transition from eating at home to eating in dining halls was difficult when she first arrived at Lehigh.

“At home, my mom always cooked really nutritious food for me, so I’ve never had to make an effort to seek out healthy food,” Clark said. “It took me a while to figure out how to find healthy options here.” 

Keri Lasky, Lehigh’s on-campus registered dietician, said she recognizes the struggle to find healthy, affordable options on campus and aims to assist students in developing good eating habits. 

To do this, when Lasky arrived at Lehigh in March 2022, she formed a team of four undergraduate student nutrition ambassadors to promote healthy eating.

Lasky said she created the role because she saw value in having students further nutritional guidance on campus.

“Peer-to-peer education and outreach always seems to be a little bit more comfortable for the student population as opposed to adults telling them things,” Lasky said.

Lehigh’s Student Nutrition ambassadors showcase homemade matcha energy balls in front of the Health and Wellness Center on March 23, 2023. The four student nutrition ambassadors are (from left to right) Cate Coffino, ’25, Katherine Luskin, ’26, Maeve Diver, ’25, and Justine Pavia, ’23. (Amanda Rowan/B&W Staff)

Nutrition ambassador Maeve Diver, ‘25, said she became interested in the program through being a peer health advisor.

While the nutrition ambassadors’ outreach is similar to Lehigh’s Peer Health Advisors — a team focused on improving health and safety through peer-to-peer connections —  Lasky said the student nutrition ambassadors emphasize healthy eating.

“We’re here to promote nutritional education,” said Maeve Diver, ‘25, a member of the nutrition ambassador team. “We serve as a connection between Keri (Lasky) and the student population.”

Diver said during her first year at Lehigh, she found herself experiencing a dip in energy levels due to her new college diet. She wanted to help share the food education she had learned.

Diver said student nutrition ambassadors contribute to nutrition campaigns across campus, such as “Nourish Your Potential.” The campaign, which takes the form of on-campus events and informational Instagram posts, centers around maximizing your energy and learning how to eat right.

This semester, the nutrition ambassadors have held several on-campus events promoting healthy food. 

Diver said many of these events have been popular, despite the team not expecting them to be, such as the “Choco-Dipped Strawberry Social.” Students and faculty were able to make Valentine’s Day-themed treats while learning about the health benefits of dark chocolate, flax seeds and strawberries.  

“I went for the chocolate-covered strawberries, but I actually learned a lot about the nutrition facts,” said Alli Courtenay, ’26, who attended the event. “I never really considered dark chocolate to be healthy before.”

The ambassadors partnered with the Health and Wellness Center on March 29 to provide students with matcha energy balls and information about the health benefits of matcha.

Clark, who attended the event, said it was interesting to hear about the many healthy resources the program provides.

“Lehigh can definitely benefit from healthier food options like this,” Clark said.

Lasky said the nutrition ambassadors prepare all of the food at their events and focus on using ingredients that are accessible to the average Lehigh student to promote the continuation of healthy habits. 

Lehigh Dining presents ‘Nourish your potential’ to celebrate National Nutrition Month at the Health and Wellness Center on March 23, 2023. The student nutrition ambassadors served homemade matcha energy balls. (Amanda Rowan/B&W Staff)

In addition to themed events, Lasky said the nutrition ambassadors host a “Foodie Friday” event once a month in Taylor Gym, where they highlight a healthy on-campus food option. 

“Not a lot of people know about these snacks, so it’s a good way for people to get to know more about what kind of food and what kind of services we offer on campus,” Diver said.

Lasky said the group is planning a “nutrition tour” across campus that will focus on showing new students where to find “healthy hacks” at dining locations.

“(The ambassadors will) be teaching the new students the basics of the Lehigh dining: how to navigate the dining halls (and) general eating tips,” Lasky said.

Students interested in becoming a nutrition ambassador can contact Lasky at [email protected].

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