My name is Kritzia A. Rodríguez and I’m a dietitian from Puerto Rico. Since I can remember, public health and community nutrition have been one of my greatest passions. Creating safe spaces and providing services to vulnerable communities became my niche and identity as a professional. In Puerto Rico, I developed multiple skills and gained meaningful work experience during 8 years of community assistance with programs like Head Start and WIC.
I moved to Iowa at 34 years old and was blessed to be able to resume my career at the WIC Program, IDPH of Iowa City. This move, however, came with its challenges. I transitioned from speaking just Spanish to basically being a full-time bilingual dietitian. A skill that has allowed me to assist the public and help my coworkers better understand the individual needs of some of our participants. We also work with many French, Swahili, and Arabic speakers from many different countries. As a team, we accommodate to their needs by having printed material about a variety of topics available in their first language. I am currently assisting in translating and updating the printed materials used for educational purposes. Thankfully, we also have professional translators available to assist consults via Stratus.
As an RDN, I try my best to adapt my interventions to the specific needs of the public I’m assisting. Considering the cultural importance of the foods, traditions, eating habits, access, and usual food selection is paramount for delivering a service of quality. For example, we have a significant population of participants from Africa. For that reason, I've been doing my research about African foods such as Fufu, Fumbwa, Atieke, Jolley rice, Egusi soup, and others. I've been using a variety of online resources and followed fellow dietitian creators such as “Eat Well Exchange”, “Dietitians for Food Justice”, and “Dietitians for Change”. This helped me obtain a better understanding about some of our participants cultural foods and, also, increased my knowledge about potential barriers that can impede participants achieve a better nutrition. On the other hand, for the Hispanic population, I use some of the materials
available at https://wic.pr.gov/. This website provides plenty of nutrition related material in Spanish for pregnant or breastfeeding woman, infants, and children. It is a public resource available to anyone. In addition, in Puerto Rico, there’s a reviewed adaptation of MyPlate and the American Dietary Guidelines that can be accessed via Puerto Rico Food and Nutrition Commission page:
Of course, dietitians use evidence-based tools to provide the best intervention possible. However, we also need to apply, adapt, and familiarize our professional judgment to other cultures to improve our nutrition and dietetic interventions. In the future, I plan to create educational material influenced by the individual cultural food preferences of our participants at the WIC program. I hope that one day it can become a widely utilized nutrition intervention tool.
Kritzia A. Rodriguez, MHSN, RDN, LD