The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Marilyn Magaram Center helps students and community through events

Each fall, families from around The Valley attend KCET Family Day, a one-day health fair located at KCET studios. Last year, kids and their parents could spin a nutrition wheel, answer questions and win prizes, or learn about their taste buds.

These activities were organized and run by CSUN students working as volunteers through the Marilyn Magaram Center (MMC), an auxiliary center that works with the Department of Food and Consumer Sciences.

“Each year we are invited to present a booth filled with nutrition facts,” said Karmen Ovsepyan, 23, a graduate student in family consumer sciences who now serves as one of the MMC’s project managers.  “It is great fun.”

KCET Family Day is only one of the events Ovsepyan and other CSUN students work on throughout the year for the MMC.

Students involved in the MMC participate in events and programs that provide opportunities for CSUN students and the community to better their health and knowledge of nutrition. Center interns create flyers and recipes, hold demonstrations on cooking and nutritional information and provide services such as body composition and diet analysis for students, faculty, and the community,

“The Marilyn Magaram Center offers programs and services that lay outside the normal scope of school programs,” said Ritamarie Little, Associate Director for the center.

At last year’s KCET Family day, the MMC booth featured a picture of a cartoon tongue, which labeled where different taste buds are located.

“We asked children to eat a small portion of dark chocolate, asked them what it tasted like, and then asked them where in their mouth they felt they were tasting the chocolate,” said Ovsepyan, who said such games are a fun way for kids and their families to learn about nutrition.

Another event the MMC participates in each year is the Nutrition College Bowl.

The Nutrition College Bowl is the MMC’s biggest event, Ovsepyan said.  The MMC raises funds to host the tournament: a game show style competition. Schools from across the western United States come to compete for scholarship funds and money to support their academic programs.

Ovsepyan works directly on the event, applying for grants, contacting schools to participate and organizing volunteers.

“The goal of the Nutrition College Bowl is to encourage a spirit of teamwork, education, friendly competition and cooperation,” Ovsepyan said.

A summer cooking camp for children is a relatively new event hosted by the MMC.

Anet Piridzhanyan, 26, a graduate student intern majoring in nutrition, food and dietetics, said the program is run as a part of the Summer Academic Program for Elementary Students (SAPESS).

The program teaches fourth through sixth grade students cooking skills and nutrition knowledge.  The class, beginning at the end of June, goes for two hours each day, Monday through Friday, and lasts five weeks, said Piridzhanyan, who is helping create the lesson plans and curriculum for this year’s class.

The camp offers courses on serving sizes, food pyramid groups, healthy eating options and nutrients in food, Piridzhanyan said.  She added that the program also teaches the importance of physical activity and this year the MMC expects 24 students.

“I think this nutrition education is important… if the kids learn something from us they might take it home to their families and create a domino effect,” said Piridzhanyan.

Piridzhanyan also runs the MMC’s Bod Pod, a service available to all students, faculty, and community members.

The Bod Pod is a machine that uses air and pressure to measure body fat composition, said Piridzhanyan.

“The scale alone can’t tell you if you’re healthy,” said Piridzhanyan, who explained that this analysis gives a body composition and metabolic rate, which is more important than weight.

“We also have a diet analysis program we often refer people to,” said Piridzhanyan.

The MMC provides opportunities for consumer science majors as well all CSUN students and the surrounding communities.

“I think what we do here provides our students with some real professional experiences for the real world,” Little said. “They get a chance to practice skills learned in the classroom by partnering with the community.”

“They assist the community to better their health,” Little added.

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