Aside from serving meals at Texas Woman’s University, the TWU Dining Hall offers wellness advice and healthy recipes. Hailing from Beaumont, Texas, Aylin Galvan is set to further these services as the dining hall’s new wellness intern.
Galvan is a graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in nutrition after transferring from Lamar University.
“I’m hoping to become a community nutritionist primarily [to work with] low-income people,” Galvan said. “I personally grew up low income and my mom was on WIC whenever we were younger, and that’s the area that I’m striving more towards – mother, infant, child nutrition.”
In the meantime, as a wellness intern, Galvan works alongside TWU registered dietitian Carly Richter. Galvan said their job is to educate TWU students about nutrition through wellness programming and creating content for the Pioneers Eat Well Instagram page.
“Some of what I do is making posts… teaching people how to read nutrition facts,” Galvan said. “I was actually inspired to make this sort of diagram after watching my roommate grocery shop with me, and I was like, ‘Wow, lots of people don’t know,’ and it’s because… [nutrition education] is not emphasized as much as it needs to be.”
Through the month of September, Galvan said that she wanted to highlight Hunger Action Month by posting affordable recipes that can be made in a dorm for students who may not want to eat on campus.
“I want to make sure that it’s healthy and targeting all the nutrients someone could need,” Galvan said. “Despite being a nutrition major, I don’t have the best eating habits. I eat a lot of what’s considered ‘unhealthy.’ And so my passion for cooking, I tie that in a bit with my passion for nutrition and learn to make healthy versions of [my] favorite foods. So, because I get to do that with my internship and with those recipes, not only am I also educating the TWU student population, but I’m tying my own passion into it. And that’s something I look forward to a lot when I’m uploading those videos.”
Another primary reason for Galvan’s emphasis on Hunger Action Month is the degree of food insecurity among TWU students. When she found out that 40 percent of the university’s students are facing food insecurity, Galvan said that she wanted to emphasize that a lack of proper nutrition education may also contribute to the issue.
“A lot of people think eating healthy is disgusting, it’s bland, it’s just a bunch of salads,” Galvan said. “Eating healthy is not boring. It can be anything that you want it to be. Just because you want to eat healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up chicken nuggets, burgers, pizza… I’m putting the message out there that it’s not about what you can take away from your diet, but it’s about what you can add to your diet.”
Falsehoods on social media act as an obstacle to community nutrition education, Galvan said.
“When it comes to nutrition, because social media influencers gain such a big prevalence nowadays, people tend to listen to them promoting expensive pills and expensive powders rather than people who are actually studying the subject,” Galvan said. “I also tell people that just because someone is skinny doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Similarly to someone who’s fat, they’re not automatically unhealthy. But for a lot of people, it’s really hard to see that for themselves because they are so influenced by what you see on social media. And at the same time, you can’t blame them because they don’t know any better.”
Galvan said they are still trying to find their place on campus as a newcomer to Denton.
“I really enjoy my position,” Galvan said. “It’s very close-knit. I get to do pretty much what I like, whether it’s creating new posts, recording new content, or planning… for the month, like, ‘What am I trying to target?’ I enjoy it.”
Jocelyn Truong can be reached via email at email@example.com.