UCA’s first full-time dietitian began employment on June 3 and has big plans for how to spend the upcoming fall semester.
Nathan Slinkard, an Aramark employee, will be available from his office in Christian Cafeteria to provide free nutritional counseling to students, staff and faculty. Consultations can include everything from tips on how to avoid the ‘freshman fifteen’ to general health advice.
“My main goal is going to be to help UCA students learn more about nutrition and how they can eat healthy on campus and in residential dining [halls] as well as the different restaurants on campus,” Slinkard said.
He also plans to partner with the disability resource center and the counseling center to help provide another resource for anyone with tricky dietary needs or those who may be suffering from an eating disorder.
The type of person Slinkard is likely to meet with through these partnerships is someone like senior Khi Ellison, who lives with a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2.
“I’m always looking for healthier snack options and healthier meal options,” Ellison said.
Other students he may assist are those with food allergies. However, the student health clinic does not currently offer any formal testing for determining food allergies and will refer patients to another facility.
One of the best resources Slinkard recommends for anyone who may want more information about navigating the food scene on campus is UCA Dining’s profile on the campus dish website.
“You can see all that is offered in the dining hall, which makes planning things super easy,” Slinkard said, “You can filter different food preferences like vegetarian or vegan and also allergies like milk, wheat and soy and things like that.”
The tools on the site also provide a full spectrum of nutrition facts for planned out meals once users select what they will be eating.
The page can be found at centralarkansas.campusdish.com and is accessible even by students who do not live on campus.
“[The website] is going to help people make the right choices and understand what they’re gonna get,” Slinkard said.
Part of Slinkard’s own passion for nutrition comes from learning about eating healthy and taking part in physical education classes during his years as a homeschooled student. The other part comes from his personal experience with family members who have medical issues.
“I’ve had family with health issues,” Slinkard said, “I’ve just learned a lot from them and their experiences, and [I have] enjoyed trying to help them as well, which has been a blessing.”
Slinkard graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University – also a university serviced by Aramark – in 2017, where he also later completed his dietetic internship and his master’s degree in Nutrition.