Nutrition in the news

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Blind Wayne State student shares inspiring secret to success, gets tattoo to celebrate passing organic chemistry

Any college-level chemistry class can seem difficult. One Wayne State University student, who happens to be blind, took organic chemistry for two semesters. Nicole Kada was born blind but she sees the world in a very inspiring way. “You could be blind and say that you can’t do anything because you can’t see, therefore you just can’t but that’s just making excuses,” she said. The 23-year-old is studying to become a dietitian and one of the courses she must pass is organic chemistry. “Organic chemistry is all drawing structures and molecules, it’s basically an art class, times ten,” Kada said. But if you can’t see or draw, how do you approach this class? She uses special paper and a Braille computer that helps her identify different shapes. “Plastic paper that you put on a drawing board and you write with this pen and it raises it up in Braille so I can feel the molecules,” Kada said. The student says she had to study much harder than other students to understand what was being taught in two semesters. She met with a tutor every day for hours and it paid off. She got two A's for the year. “Most proudest moments and happiest too,” Kada said. To celebrate, she got a tattoo of a molecule to be a permanent reminder of perseverance. “When my kids tell me they can’t do something, I’m going to show them my tattoo and tell them yes you can because I can do it and I can’t see.” Kada will be graduating next year but she hopes her story will inspire others. “As soon as you remove limitations, then you can accomplish anything,” she said.
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The new battlefront in food insecurity fight

Food insecurity, defined as being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, is currently a situation that 12.3 percent of U.S. households experience. It's defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. However, David Strauss, Wayne State University dean of students, says, “It's not just food – it's all basic needs. With the increasing costs of tuition for college, it's food, shelter, clothing.” Strauss said on the Wayne State campus he has seen an increase in student food insecurity in the last decade. “We weren't talking about this 10 years ago. We weren't talking about food insecurity, homelessness, basic needs challenges. Everyone was always having food drives for Gleaners (Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan,) but that was for other people. Now we're having department food drives for our students.” Strauss and other administrators at area schools of higher education emphasize the reason food insecurity and hunger is such a major issue – and pressing talking point – is because it can be a direct impediment to student success. “If we look at student success, and we focus on student success and graduation, our number one goal is to get them across the finish line – and if we cannot get them nourishment, we can't help them succeed and cross the finish line,” Strauss explained. “If students aren't eating, they're going to class, working part or full-time jobs, they're operating on fumes,” noted Raneisha Williams Fox, coordinator of student wellness at Wayne State University and the W Pantry, Wayne State's food pantry, which during the 2018-2019 school year gave out more than 8,000 pounds of food. It opened in April 2017. “In a week we'll see 25 to 28 students, and between 80 and 100 students monthly. Since we've opened we've serviced 1,500 students, and we've given out more than 20,000 pounds of food.”