A college dietitian, also known as a campus dietitian, is a health professional who provides dietary advice and guidance to both individual students and the campus food-service management team. In many cases, a college dietitian will work closely with the food service team to ensure that healthy and varied meals are provided to students both in the residence halls as well as in on-campus restaurants, cafes, and snack bars. If a student has particular dietary needs, the dietitian may act as a liaison between the student and campus food service to develop a specialized menu for him or her. Students who have nutritional concerns may also be able to schedule one-on-one time or ongoing appointments with the dietitian in order to receive professional advice and support. For example, if a student is experiencing any stomach issues, a college dietitian can offer guidance on the best ways to improve gut health.
At many schools, students who live on campus are expected to take all or most of their meals at the cafeteria in their dormitory or at an alternative on-campus restaurant. These cafeterias and restaurants are typically managed by a third-party food service management company. The college dietitian reviews menus proposed by the food service and evaluates them for nutritional soundness as well as their ability to meet the dietary needs of a diverse student population. In situations where a student feels that his or her dietary needs cannot be met by the student food service, the dietitian may work with the student to determine his or her needs and may be able to make recommendations to both the student and the food service team for providing the student with an appropriate diet.
Many college students are away from home for the first time and find themselves suddenly at liberty to eat whenever and whatever they like. This can result in students gaining weight, eating poorly, or even developing body image issues and eating disorders. Some campuses permit students to meet privately with the college dietitian to discuss their dietary and weight issues. The dietitian may be able to provide supportive services for those who need to lose weight as well as referrals for individuals who are suffering from severe eating disorders.
The college dietitian may also provide educational services to the campus. In some cases, he may provide ongoing educational programs to the entire campus, including faculty and staff. Depending on his credentials, he may also teach academic courses in nutrition and other health- or wellness-related topics.