Dietitian here to make UMD more conscious about what they eat

Dietitian Alyssa Hammitt. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Hammitt

Dietitian Alyssa Hammitt. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Hammitt

When Alyssa Hammitt received her undergraduate in Biology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, Hammitt saw her future in a different type of discipline.

“I thought I was going to be pre-med for a while,” Hammitt said. “But I realized that I want to have a family and it seemed weird to go through all that schooling and become a stay-at-home mom.”

“I realized I really love food and cooking and the science behind it,” Hammitt continued. “I really love talking to people and so dietician seemed to be a natural fit.”

Hammitt returned to Minnesota in 2013 and got accepted to the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, two years later she got her Master’s in dietatetics.

Hammitt’s first job out of school was at Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake, Minnesota. She would work with in-patients and would go over specific individual diet plans with them.

Originally from Cloquet, Hammitt decided to return to her backyard when she was hired as a full-time dietitian at UMD and started in Jan. 2016.

“I love working with students,” Hammitt said. “I like that they’re at the jaded stage of adulthood, they’re all on their own now usually for the first time. They’re trying to figure out how to grocery shop, how to meal prep, how to cook, and it’s such a fun time. They usually have pretty open minds about what I’m trying to tell them and they’re really eager to learn.”

In 2015 UMD created two full-time dietitian positions, one to work primarily with students, Hammitt, and the other to work mostly with staff.

Appointments with Hammitt are free for all college students and can be made via email ( or by phone (218-726-7938).

Appointments are individualized patient care. Hammitt goes over the student’s current eating habit and works from there on what they want to accomplish and create goals.

Hammitt does counseling on diabetes, weight loss and weight maintenance, intuitive eating-- the relationship between eating food and the body, food allergies, and food disorders.

“I’m not here to tell [students] what to do or what to eat,” Hammitt said. “It’s all about what they want to do, I let them lead.”

A lot of schools throughout the United States have started to employ full-time dietician, so UMD thought it was time to join in.

“As a planet we are becoming more aware of our food,” Betsy Helgesen, Director of Dining Services said. “And I think more people are becoming aware of special dietary needs.”

According to Helgesen, by next fall semester there will be more vegetarian and vegan options at Superior Dining. Helgesen said Superior Dining plans to put in a “creation station” where students will be able to build their own item.

“Like a pasta,” Helgesen said, “so there’s a gluten-free and a regular, and if you don’t want dairy in that, you get things that aren’t dairy and if it’s meat free, you can assemble it yourself. You’ll always have a hot food that can meet your needs.”

Helgesen said that Dining Services does an adequate job of providing vegetarian and vegan options. After talking with Hammitt, Helgesen said that they were lacking in giving more options to students looking for those alternatives.

Along with working with students, Hammitt also does nutrition lessons with the daycare on campus as well as with athletics.

NewsVincent Harvieux