Student-athletes fill deficit in nutrition education
Redhawk Fuel, a program started by two Southeast dietetics students in Spring 2019, is meant to educate the athletes at Southeast about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Seniors Madeline Grimm and Parker Bandy came up with the idea for Redhawk Fuel after speaking to the school’s strength and conditioning coach in 2018. Both student-athletes at the time (Grimm played volleyball and Bandy played softball), they wanted to know what more could be done to educate their peers about proper nutrition.
“We were dietetics majors and knew there was a deficit to be filled,” Grimm said. “As we talked more and more, we came up with the idea for Redhawk Fuel.”
As Grimm and Bandy began presenting to other student-athletes, they found the ingredients and utensils they needed to buy were getting costly.
“It’s hard to create a budget when you don’t have any money,” Bandy said. “We didn’t just want to ask people for money.”
Another difficulty that came with starting Redhawk Fuel was the lack of administrative assistance.
“At the beginning, it was just Parker and I navigating,” Grimm said.
Eventually, they received help from LeaAnne Lambert, a professor of nutrition and dietetics. With the help of Lambert, they applied and were accepted for a grant from Southeast that has been used to help pay for food, utensils and any kitchenware they may need for their demonstrations.
The grant money is also being used for nutrition education sessions with the Southeast softball team. The pair is presenting education sessions for the team and collecting a pre- and post-survey to be presented at the Missouri Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conference in February.
“We gear the questions toward pre-workout, post-workout, protein and nutrition to see what they think is important,” Bandy said. “We want to share how they can implement that stuff in their lives and then do a post-survey.”
The largest component of the program is the seminars they hold for student-athletes at the Holcomb Success Center on campus.
“Parker and I go in once a week and make a treat, and we include a recipe card with nutrition facts so the athletes can try new things,” Grimm said.
Since Grimm and Bandy are seniors, they are looking for successors to help continue Redhawk Fuel after they graduate.
“Dr. Lambert is going to have her nutrition education students continue the weekly session for the athletes after we graduate,” Grimm said. “It would be amazing if we could get a registered dietician associated with the athletes to advocate for them.”
“Nutrition factors into being an athlete and something like this can affect recruitment,” Bandy said. “It’s just one more thing SEMO can add to their list for students.”
Outside of the weekly nutrition demonstrations, Redhawk Fuel’s main platform for engagement is Instagram. On Nov. 26, they posted their first video cooking demonstration on making a healthy breakfast burrito.
“We really like doing the videos,” Grimm said. “We got a lot of positive feedback, and most of the athletes follow us so it’s an easy way to get a hold of them.”
Charlie Balcom, the coordinator of digital media for Southeast athletics, helped create the first video and will be helping with any future ones.
To find more nutrition tips or to get in contact with Bandy and Grimm follow Redhawk Fuel on Instagram @redhawkfuel.