Hospitality Services hires dietitian for student counselling

Bertrand hopes to debunk food myths while creating more healthy options on campus

Jessica Bertrand in Leonard Hall cafeteria.
Credit: 
Supplied by Jessica Bertrand

Even though she only started in early October, newly-registered dietitian Jessica Bertrand says she’s already found her “dream job” at Queen’s.  

Working alongside Campus Executive Chef Colin Johnson, Bertrand’s primary focus will be on meeting with students who have allergies to help them navigate dining options on campus. Her office is located within the Hospitality Services Office in Victoria Hall. 

“When I saw the posting online for this job I knew it was the perfect fit for me,” she told The Journal. “I applied, and here I am.” 

Bertrand graduated last year with a Masters in Nutrition at the University of Guelph and is registered with the College of Registered Dietitians of Ontario. She completed her undergraduate degree in Applied Science in Human Nutrition in 2014 also at Guelph, while simultaneously holding several service-based jobs within the food industry. 

Bertrand’s job isn’t limited to working with students who have allergies. She’s also offering nutrition counselling for all students.

“If students want to come and talk to me about healthy eating or eating on a vegan or vegetarian diet, they can,” Bertrand said.

Bertrand’s counselling services are made available through the Hospitality Service’s website. Here, students, faculty and staff can book an appointment with Bertrand or Johnson. 

Counselling services will come at no charge for members of the Queen’s community. Associate Director of Housing and Ancillary Services Jennifer Pete said, “they’re free and intended for staff and faculty, as well as upper-year and graduate students.”  

When asked about the major challenges students face in regard to healthy eating, Bertrand said it’s addressing food myths. “Telling [students] the facts, for all dietitians in Canada, is a big challenge,” she said. “There are a lot of food myths out there. We just want to share the real information.” 

Available through their website, Hospitality Services offers a Nutrition Blog. With a current focus on eating healthy and next month’s spotlight on fighting the flu, Bertrand believes this information is valuable for students. 

Since she only started in early October, Bertrand is ensuring her services are accessible to the student population. “A lot of students don’t realize I’m available,” she remarked. “This Thursday, I’ll be at Leonard Hall with a booth about eating well — especially during the holidays and Halloween.” 

To combat this, Bertrand has already participated in campus collaborations. “We’ve increased whole wheat options around campus, even the Grab and Go items are now all on whole wheat buns,” she said. “We’ve also increased vegan options around campus and updated the online vegan list with what’s available on campus.” 

Bertrand believes the Simple Servings and gluten-free zones on campus serve as great resources for conscious eaters. Simple Servings, available at Leonard and Ban Righ Dining Hall, provide options for students with any of the top 10 most common allergies. The Gluten-Free Pantry is available at all three dining halls. 

Bertrand’s goal for her first year at Queen’s is “to help students that have allergies feel more comfortable around campus.” Her personal philosophy is about approaching food with a positive lens. 

“Eating healthy doesn’t mean cutting out all bad things, it’s just having it in moderation,” she said. “Moderation is key.” 

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