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EAT.RIGHT.NOW. Director Announces Retirement

August 23, 2016

Ann Y. Marsteller, MBA, MS, RDN, LDN, Director of the EAT.RIGHT.NOW. Program, will be retiring on September 30, 2016, after more than 13 years of service to Drexel and the Program. Marsteller has been an exemplary member of the Drexel community throughout her tenure, and the work that she has done, especially with the EAT.RIGHT.NOW Program (ERN) will benefit the Philadelphia community for many years to come.

Marsteller began working at Drexel in 2002, and was hired for the federally funded grant entitled “Nutrition Outreach in Philadelphia Public Schools,” originally housed in the Department of Biology. “I started working as a Program Manager, and was promoted to Program Director in 2004,” said Marsteller.

One of Marsteller’s many accomplishments of her time at Drexel was being the Director of the ERN Program, which is the official Pennsylvania Nutrition Education TRACKS Program of the School District of Philadelphia. ERN is funded by the Department of Human Services (DHS) through PA Nutrition Education TRACKS, a part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

ERN provides nutrition education programs and services (SNAP-Ed) to eligible adults and children in the Philadelphia community. “The goal of SNAP-Ed is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate,” said Marsteller. “The SNAP-Ed Plan Guidance was amended in 2010 to include not only nutrition education but also obesity prevention.”

In 2002, the School District of Philadelphia Nutrition Education Program asked Drexel to partner with them to conduct nutrition education in schools with after-school programs. Drexel initially started programming in a handful of elementary schools, three middle school girls’ clubs, and a single nutrition and fitness lesson in 28 High Schools. “In 2005, the School District mandated that all schools have nutrition education, and several other community partners as well as Drexel became one under the School District of Philadelphia’s auspices,” said Marsteller. “At that time we agreed to take on programming in almost 70 schools, primarily high schools, which was a far cry from our humble beginning.”

With every year that passed, the program was presented with new challenges, however under Marsteller’s leadership, the program always remained robust. Marsteller explained that most of the challenges came from high school students, but ERN was able to develop lessons that were creative and engaged the students so that nutrition became fun as well as educational. “We recently completed a three-year evaluation of our high school curriculum, and it has shown to be an effective teaching tool that has demonstrated positive changes in eating behaviors,” said Marsteller. “It is now being requested to be used by SNAP-Ed programs all over the country.”

In addition to the ERN Program, Marsteller has also served as a mentor to many of Drexel’s undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. As part of her mentorship with undergraduate students, Marsteller has served as a Senior Project Advisor for Nutrition Students for many years. For the past five years, Marsteller and the Drexel PA Tracks Team have served as part of the community rotation for Drexel University’s Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP), which trains future registered dietitians.

In addition to all of the accomplishments that have been achieved over the course of the Program’s history, ERN’s future remains bright. “We have mobilized our efforts within the community and have partnered with community health centers, recreations centers and Drexel’s Dornsife Center in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone, as this is an important Drexel initiative. We expect to increase the expansion of nutrition education, physical activity, cooking, and gardening as part of nutrition education and obesity prevention,” said Marsteller. “In this coming fiscal year, we will be providing services in Philadelphia to 80 schools and eight community sites.”

Thanks to the efforts of Marsteller and the ERN team, a system is slowly but surely being set into place to help combat the childhood obesity epidemic that is affecting the health of our youth. Even after Marsteller’s retirement, the ERN program will be a staple in the community as they prepare to promote a nutritious and healthy lifestyle for years to come.

Jacob Cushing ‘19