History of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center

Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center (KRNC) founding director, Melissa Wdowik, speaks to the clinic’s 10-year history, growth and mission.

Thank you for 10 years of service and happy retirement, Melissa!

Melissa Wdowik

What is the history of the KRNC?

I started the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center 10 years ago as the Nutrition Center @ CSU, a one-person operation of just me, with the support of our department head and college dean.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition came up with the idea for the center based on both student input and best practices. Our nutrition students had expressed for years a desire for hands-on experience to apply the concepts they learned in the classroom. And health-related education calls for optimizing learning with practical competence. We addressed these needs, opening in 2008 as an outreach center and clinic, providing nutrition counseling and education to a diverse client base comprising all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups.

In 2011, the nutrition center was honored with generous donations from two alumna, Pat Kendall and Danette Reagan, who believed in our mission and understood the benefits of investing in our future. Because of their substantial support over the years, we evolved into the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center and have been able to increase our outreach to the public, create more client materials and curriculum, adopt an electronic health record, improve client care, update our website and social media presence, engage in rebranding and marketing, and provide unmatched learning opportunities for our students.

Why does nutrition matter?

Nutrition is a critical component of human health. What and how we eat effects our immune system, brain function, and heart health. It influences our energy level, physical activity capacity, and ability to prevent, delay or manage such chronic diseases as diabetes and cancer. It impacts pregnancy through old age, and also has an impact on our environment. I see nutrition as integral to our lives.

What is the mission of the KRNC?

The mission of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center is threefold. Our first mission is to provide experiential learning and service learning opportunities for students in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. The second mission is to improve the health of the community through nutrition education and outreach. Our services are available to students, employees, and community members of all ages. Our third mission is to collaborate with CSU colleagues in conducting cutting edge research.

I am proud to say we are meeting our mission, giving students the opportunity to both observe and apply the concepts they learn in their coursework here, including the science of nutrition and metabolism, the research and application of medical nutrition therapy, and the techniques and theories for nutrition education and counseling. They are using critical thinking skills and solving real world problems. This makes them better prepared for internships, graduate school, and their careers.

I am also proud that we are meeting our 2nd and 3rd missions, in that we are informing and teaching the public how to prevent and manage disease, cutting through the hype and the fads so they can be more knowledgeable, empowered and healthy. We also partner with other CSU faculty to provide nutrition coaching, recipe development, and other input for their research.

How has the KRNC grown over the past 10 years?

Over the past 10 years we have grown significantly. Staff-wise, we have added 2 full time registered dietitian nutritionist, a program coordinator, and numerous support positions. We have increased our client load substantially, meaning we have individual nutrition counseling appointments with dozens of clients each week as well as cooking classes, presentations, and group education programs for diabetes and weight loss. We provide a monthly electronic newsletter and recipe to over 1,500 readers, and telecoaching for people who live out of town.

We have also grown physically, with the addition of a new suite of offices in the university’s Health and Medical Center. This increases our ability to work with CSU students and employees as well as community members in a large, easy to access space.

In just ten years, we have achieved so much. We’ve come from just a concept to a full-fledged nutrition outreach center. Knowing that we have made this ten-year mark, really shows that not only are we well-run, organized and have an incredible staff, but we also have the support of the University, local physicians, other health care groups, and community members. Over the years, our goal was to be the leading nutrition resource in Northern Colorado, and I feel we have achieved that in many ways.

Thank you KRNC donors for 10 years of support!

Larry Kendall and I are so blessed to have been able to support the growth and development of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center (KRNC) from concept to the new addition to the Nutrition Center at CSU Health and Medical Center. As a CSU Extension Nutrition Education Specialist for 35 years, I understand the need for both community-based nutrition education and helping students develop the skills they need to become competent, compassionate and effective nutrition education counselors. Larry and I are proud of the work of Melissa Wdowik, her coworkers and their student interns in building the strength and reputation of KRNC over the past 10 years and look forward to its continued growth and development. We are sad to lose Melissa as the director of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center. We wish her the best in her retirement and welcome Shelby Cox as the interim Director of KRNC. Thanks to all. Pat Kendall, 1983 Graduate. Go Rams!

My husband, Monty, and I are truly thankful and blessed to be a part of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center. I was born and raised in Fort Collins and it has always been important to me to give back to the community and school, which have given me so much. My success over the past 30 years as a clinical dietitian in long-term care and in the hospital setting can be attributed to the education and mentors that I had at CSU. The Nutrition Center allows students to gain skills that are desired in the dietetics industry. Thank Melissa for your 10 years of service as director of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center. We wish you the best in your next chapter. Monty and I are excited to have Shelby Cox take the reigns as Interim Director of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center. The Center will continue to thrive and serve the community and our CSU students. Much thanks. Danette Reagan, Class of 1987

History collage