Amria Farnsworth, a recent graduate of Utah State University’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences (NDFS), has been named the 2021 Outstanding Dietetics Student by the Utah Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (UAND).
Farnsworth, a Utah native, graduated in May with a bachelor’s in dietetics and a minor in hunger security studies. She was also co-director of the USU Gleaning Team (now known as Cache Community Gleaning), a volunteer organization whose members gather excess fruits and vegetables from local growers, including older Cache Valley residents who are no longer able to harvest the fruit in their yards. Growers and volunteers can keep some of the produce, and the majority is distributed to community members in need through local food pantries.
Mateja Savoie Roskos, assistant professor of community nutrition, was impressed by Farnsworth’s efforts.
“Amria truly is the epitome of an active and engaged citizen,” said Savoie Roskos. “Her gleaning project has already demonstrated significant success over the short period of time it has been implemented.”
In 2019, Farnsworth’s team rescued nearly 15,500 pounds of produce from local trees and properties. The USU Gleaning Team prevented that produce from ending up in a landfill and instead distributed it to food-insecure students via the Student Nutrition Access Center (SNAC) on USU’s campus.
“Considering the SNAC pantry relies on donations and oftentimes has limited fresh produce available for patrons, this is a very significant contribution to improve campus food security, not to mention the environmental impact of reducing food waste,” Savoie Roskos said. “Speaking from my own experience with expanding food gleaning programs, I am blow away by the speed at which Amria and her team developed and expanded this program. It clearly demonstrates her leadership, networking and communication abilities.”
Farnsworth was shocked to be named the state’s 2021 Outstanding Dietetic Student of the Year.
“One of my greatest desires is to combine my knowledge of nutrition and public health to work toward creating communities where food access and food choice is equitable for all,” said Farnsworth. “For a statewide organization like UAND to notice and commend my efforts is pretty wonderful, to say the least. It is incredibly humbling to have my efforts recognized, especially by mentors who I greatly admire and respect.”
Farnsworth thanks Savoie Roskos for the nomination, the NDFS faculty for mentoring her during her undergraduate degree, and fellow dietetic graduate Kara Bachman for her support and assistance.
“These individuals have all been mentors to me in various capacities,” said Farnsworth. “I value each of them and their influence in my life.”
Farnsworth currently works in a research position for Create Better Health Utah, a statewide program of USU Extension, and intends to become a registered dietitian. After taking the certification exam next summer, she plans on pursuing a master’s degree in public health.
However, when Farnsworth first came to USU, it was for a degree in elementary education. It took time for her to realize that she wanted to change fields.
“Naturally, I turned to the all-knowing internet and took about 100 Buzzfeed quizzes,” Farnsworth said. “It was silly, I know, but it was the gentle push I needed and eventually led me to dietetics. Coming to USU was the perfect decision because it’s one of the two schools in Utah that offers dietetics as an undergrad degree — the better one, in my opinion.”
After completing her degree, Farnsworth believes she made the right choice.
“I’ve absolutely cherished my experience here academically and socially with the connections I’ve made,” said Farnsworth. “I’m proud to be an Aggie alum!”