A day in the life of a Public Health Nutritionist
Meet Laura, one of our nom nutritionists
When you think of a day in the life of a public health nutritionist, you might imagine someone quietly analysing nutritional data in a sterile lab. However, spend a day with Laura Bryce, one of our Public Health Nutritionists, and you’ll quickly realise that her job is anything but typical. Laura’s role is a dynamic blend of education, community engagement and hands-on involvement. Join us for a glimpse into the world of a Public Health Nutritionist as we follow Laura on her journey to empower communities with the knowledge and skills to make healthier food choices.
Planning with purpose
Laura’s day begins usually with meticulous planning. Recently she was gearing up for a week-long visit to a remote community called Wiluna. With six nutrition education and cooking sessions on the agenda, her tasks ranged from communicating with local stakeholders to personalising program flyers to ensure the community is well-informed about the upcoming programs.
But Laura’s planning isn’t just about schedules and logistics. It includes meal planning, catering for allergies and scoping out resources. In remote areas like Wiluna, where online ordering isn’t an option, Laura personally shops for ingredients at local suppliers. Adaptability is key; if something isn’t available, she pivots to work with what’s at hand. Respect for the local community and their resources is paramount; we never want to deplete the supply of regional stores.
In between planning her upcoming program deliveries, she monitors our School Breakfast Program, making sure their food distribution goes smoothly. Coordinating staff and resources for our fee-for-service nutrition education program keeps her busy, alongside planning for school term four.
Face-to-face interactions are at the heart of Laura’s work. On these days, she loads up her trolley with thoughtfully curated resources, drives to the community centre or school and sets up the cooking stations.
The nutrition education sessions are tailored to each group’s needs and last for 30 to 60 minutes, covering essential topics like food safety, knife handling, portion control, meal planning and budgeting. For Laura, it’s about empowering participants with knowledge that can lead to both better health and financial outcomes.
“Everyone needs to eat and deserves to know how eat in a way that is both exciting and fun but supports their health. It’s about empowering people to make informed choices so they can decide what they want to eat and why, rather than it being a choice made for them because they didn’t know,” shares Laura.
After the education component, participants get hands-on with cooking, working in small groups or pairs at recipe stations.
Challenges and rewards
Laura acknowledges that her job comes with unique challenges:
“As our work is community-based, the main challenge is that each community group is different. They might be culturally and linguistically diverse, they may have low written comprehension, or they might simply not have had any exposure to cooking. It’s our job to find fun and engaging ways to deliver the skills and knowledge they need in a way that works for them.”
The solution? Planning, communication and creative thinking.
“Planning is key,” Laura says. “Different groups and different locations pose different challenges, and the way we get around it is through good planning. We work closely with the host to ensure we’re meeting the needs of their community group and participants.“
Inspiring positive change
For the children and youth she primarily works with, this hands-on experience is a life-changing. Some may not have the resources, trust or opportunity to cook at home. But here, they learn to use a knife safely, read a recipe and become the main contributors to their meals. Their sense of accomplishment is heartwarming.
And sometimes, it’s the simplest feedback that brings the most joy. Laura recalls an encounter at a Kimberley shopping centre after hosting a school session earlier that day where a student approached proudly told her, “We’re going to make Mean Green Curry tonight.” Moments like these are the best feedback a Public Health Nutritionist could ask for.
Laura’s journey is an inspiring reminder that the path to better health and wellbeing begins with knowledge and empowerment. Through her tireless efforts, she’s sowing the seeds of positive change, one meal at a time.