skip to content

Spearheading Nutrition Month 2019: What happened at the Hospital for Sick Children

By Julia Celestini and Curtis D'Hallnder | June 10, 2019

As you know, Nutrition Month 2019 wrapped up not too long ago, at the end of March. This year’s Nutrition Month theme was Unlock the Potential of Food, exploring the potential of food to fuel, to discover, to prevent, to heal, and to bring us together. We are dietetic interns at SickKids and we were responsible for planning and implementing nutrition month initiatives throughout the hospital this year. We wanted to share and provide some insight into several of the engaging, educational and fun activities run at SickKids this March during Nutrition Month.

Activity #1 - Farmer's Market
A popular regular event at SickKids is the weekly farmer’s market that brings together local farmers and food vendors. It runs inside in the Terrace Café at SickKids during the winter, and moves outside once the weather warms up. Some of the options available at the market are local produce, baked goods, cheeses, honey, coffee, flax seed, crafts, and more. SickKids staff, families, patients, and visitors to the hospital flood the Terrace café to explore healthy produce options and experience tasty local foods. 

We were able to use this as a perfect platform to set-up our own Nutrition Month booth at two of the farmers markets. This public space allowed us to: 
  1.  Raise awareness among visitors that March is Nutrition Month and talk about the theme and what it means for them.
  2.  Inform visitors about our upcoming Nutrition Month events.
  3.  Educate visitors about the role of dietitians, Canada’s new food guide, and fun facts about nutrition.
  4.  Involve visitors in a “Guess the number of beans in the jar” game where we could talk about the health benefits of pulses!
Activity #2 - Canada's Food Guide Seminar
We held this event for SickKids staff to provide an update on the latest Health Canada nutrition guidelines. A huge success, this event was attended by a large number of staff from a diversity of practice areas including nursing, psychiatry, research, and clinical nutrition. We incorporated an interactive game looking at food guides from around the world to put Canada’s Food Guide in perspective and closed out the 45 minute seminar with a great discussion and question period. Through the discussion we gained valuable insight from participants about how Canada’s Food Guide may be used in different practice areas and in various populations.

Activity #3 - SickKids Chopped-Inspired Event
For our final event we organized the 4th annual SickKids Chopped-Inspired event (SCIE), which has been a highlight of Nutrition Month at SickKids since it was first introduced by former SickKids dietetic interns. Patients, families, and staff at SickKids look forward to this event every year and we were determined to make it the best one yet! The concept comes from the popular Food Network show called ‘Chopped'. The SCIE is a cooking competition involving three teams of three SickKids staff who have 30 minutes to cook a healthy and delicious dish using three mystery ingredients which are unveiled to them only moments before they start cooking. The teams are then scored based on the presentation, taste, and creativity of their dish by three guest judges. The mystery basket items we chose for this year were turmeric, tofu, and pineapple. 

This event was held in the cafeteria at SickKids and we welcomed patients, families, visitors, staff, and volunteers to observe and cheer the contestants on. During the event, we kept the crowd entertained with two interactive activities, including a 'price is right' game on healthy foods and mystery basket trivia - both were a hit!

In the end, team ‘Magnetic Spice’ from the MRI department won the cooking competition with their turmeric tofu fried rice and panko crusted shrimp with pineapple turmeric sauce. Delicious! 

Along with these interactive hospital wide events, we wrote daily blog posts for staff and did social media outreach. Together, they allowed us to increase awareness of Nutrition Month and the valuable role of dietitians. Overall, Nutrition Month was an invaluable experience that helped us to understand how to plan and run an effective public health initiative, while working with other hospital departments and that we don’t frequently engage with as dietetic interns. We had an amazing time planning Nutrition Month 2019 and we know Nutrition Month 2020 is going to be even better!

Julia Celestini is from Burlington, Ontario and completed a Bachelor of Science degree (Nutrition and Dietetics) at Brescia University College. Julia is currently completing her dietetic internship at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario. Julia has always loved working with children and has had an incredible experience throughout her time at SickKids. She looks forward to continuing to pursue her passion for nutrition and helping others in her future career in dietetics.  Connect with Julia on LinkedIn or Instagram

Curtis D’Hollander is from London, Ontario and completed his Bachelor of Applied Science degree (Human Nutrition) at the University of Guelph. He is currently completing a dietetic internship at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario. Curtis has greatly enjoyed his time as a dietetic intern at SickKids, and looks forward to improving the health of many more children and adults through practice and research in the future! Connect with Curtis at

Back to Practice Blog
Back to top