A newly renovated facility with specialized equipment has been commissioned by Fiji National University’s (FNU) College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) to cater for the increase in demand for the Bachelor of Dietetics and Nutrition programme.
The Dietetics and Nutrition Food Preparation Lab is located at FNU’s Public Health and Primary Care Campus in Tamavua. The renovations cost around $64,000.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dean CMNHS, Dr Williiam May said the Nutrition and Dietetics discipline has evolved over the years and commended the teaching faculty to take the lead in the expansion of the food preparation lab.
The lab will be beneficial to increase demand in areas such as food preservation skills, understanding of food science and its role in food components, preparing and testing recipes for sports enthusiasts, health purposes and food entrepreneurship.
The facility consists of six new workstations, food processors, five four-burner gas stoves with ovens, microwave ovens, refrigerator, water boilers, food weighing balances and other kitchen utensils. These items are used in the preparation and cooking of different types of foods and menus, proportioning of foods, preparation of value-added food items and for teaching food preservation techniques for food service, community nutrition and clinical purposes.
“If we go back two decades from the early 2000s, there were only seven of them enrolled in the programme. Now 40 years later, with more than 20 students enrolled in Year 1, the scope of the curriculum has changed,” said Dr May.
Associate Professor and Programme Coordinator at the Department of Primary Care and Nutrition, Dr Pragya Singh said the increasing burden of nutrition-related issues amongst the Pacific population, has seen an increased demand for students to pursue Bachelor of Dietetics and Nutrition studies.
“This programme prepares graduates to work competently in most clinical, food service community setting and the treatment and control of chronic diseases,” said Dr Singh.
An essential component of the programme involves practical work in the lab, which includes the preparation and cooking of different types of foods and menus, portioning of foods, food preservation techniques for food service, community nutrition and clinical purposes.
Plans are underway for FNU to offer a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Nutrition. A Food Analysis laboratory is planned to be built for this programme. This course will explore food ingredients, its nutrient composition and its link to nutritional deficiencies and other nutritional disorders.