Nutrition, Internships and Life Lessons


Valentina Stackl
Valentina Stackl

One of the inevitabilities of being an intern is that sometimes you get stuck with mindless jobs that just need to get done, such as filing, data input, mass mailings and other tasks that make you think “I’d rather poke my eyes out than continue this for a minute longer”. But then again, it is inevitable, someone’s got to it, and since you are most likely the proverbial lowest rung on the ladder- it is most likely your job.

While my internship gives me all the freedom in the world to pursue my own interests, there are days when something just needs to get done. The other day it was my turn to sit with a pile of bright yellow documents for the entire afternoon. It was my job to calculate the income that the parents provided on the sheet and see if the child was eligible for a free or reduced lunch through the USDA.


A majority of the children enrolled in the program I work for had subsidized meals. Some of the parents made so little money, that I couldn’t even imagine how they provided dinner at home. The federal nutritional guidelines for these lunches are at best mediocre, and thankfully CentroNia surpasses them by leaps and bounds (our children get at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, only whole grains, and no saturated fat). 

For me, watching the children eat their fruits and veggies with so much pleasure is not only a success in terms of educating them on nutrition and the importance of being healthy, it is also a pivotal way of sustaining their health and providing them with sufficient nutrients to grow and thrive. I knew that the community we serve was very low income with very limited resources, but somehow seeing all those piles of yellow paper with numbers, quantifiable images of how severe the problem is, made a huge impact on me.