Diana Myers has been passionate about food waste, nutrition, and helping others since she was young. Like a number of other FRN leaders, Diana didn’t settle until she knew she was making a difference. After three years at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia, Diana decided she needed more time to figure out what she was meant to do. Diana spent a few months traveling in Southeast Asia, after which she returned to Georgia, where she finished her bachelor’s degree in the Didactic Program in Dietetics at Georgia State University in 2017.
Through getting to know some upperclassmen nutrition students, Diana became involved with Panther Food Recovery Network (PFRN) at GSU through getting to know some upperclassmen nutrition students, where she served as the Partner Agency Coordinator, allowing her to connect directly with people the chapter was serving. She saw the extraordinary need in her community firsthand and acknowledged how FRN could be a part in filling that need. Motivated by her experience in this role, Diana became Co-President and Volunteer Coordinator of the chapter. With a team of six other students alongside her, Diana dove in “119” (that’s her lucky number) percent to make sure things went smoothly. The food recovery program was so successful that the team was awarded a $17,000 grant from the Georgia State University Office of Sustainability, to purchase freezers, marketing materials, pans, and other supplies.
One of Diana’s favorite memories with FRN happened while having a conversation with an employee of SafeHouse Outreach, one of PFRN’s partner agencies. He raved about how PFRN had increased the organization’s ability to serve nutritious food. Instead of serving frozen pancakes and spaghetti to its patrons, SafeHouse Outreach was able to provide roasted vegetables, baked chicken, clam chowder, wild rice and more. The employee noted that these new options helped their guests feel comfortable while going through a tough time in their lives. “They were so appreciative and it made my heart grow in infinite ways,” Diana recalled. “This is the feeling that I want to continue having through the work that I do.”
After this experience and more like it, Diana knew she wanted to keep working to fight food waste and hunger after she graduated. She received her bachelor’s degree in May 2017 and began pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition at Georgia State University. The program requires students to rotate between community, clinical, management, and enrichment settings. In her Food Service Management rotation with Marietta City Schools, Diana worked with a team to develop and assess best practices of share tables within its school system. Share tables allow students to choose which food they want to eat on their plate, rather than throwing away unwanted food. As a soon-to-be dietitian, Diana recognizes that food waste also wastes nutrients that could help someone be healthier and happier.
“We can really drive [waste reduction],” Diana said, “and teach about solutions that get nutritious food into areas that need them.” A self-titled “food waste nerd,” Diana says it was her experience with PFRN that formed her love for this work and shaped the career path she chose.
To current FRN students, Diana has some advice: “It's all about building relationships, showing appreciation to the people who help you, and staying strong in your beliefs. Know that you are making an impact as part of a nationwide movement. Educating our fellow peers is critical. Just one conversation could change the way that people cook, purchase their food, and give back to their community. Then, if those people talk to their friends, the awareness grows; we can make a huge difference from one conversation!”
Thank you for all you’ve done to fight waste and feed people, Diana!
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