President’s Message

What a summer we are having! I don’t know how you feel, but it’s hot, y’all. There’s no other way to put it. I hope there are ways you are choosing to put some positivity and light into your days in this heat.  

We have a new year upon us for MS-AND.  This new year gives us the opportunity to refocus on some important issues in the affiliate. Diversity and ensuring our leadership/membership reflects those we serve will continue to be a part of what we do.  As a reminder, if there are associations that you are apart of outside of MS-AND that are gathering around people of color in a way that you think would benefit our members, please reach out to me.

Another project for 2020-2021 will be to fully transition to the Mississippi Regions (formally Districts). If you, or someone you know, would like to be a Region Coordinator, please reach out to myself ( or Rachel Whitlock ( More to come!

Lastly, because we weren’t able to adequately (in my opinion) celebrate the 2020 MS-AND award winners this year, I want to honor the recipients in this months newsletter.  I hope you’ll take some time to read through the bio’s included below and reach out to the winners to congratulate them.

Until next month!

Heather White

Incorrect Summary of the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act

The Academy has been alerted to an incorrect summary of the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act on that inaccurately states the bill allows physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and psychologists to provide medical nutrition therapy. The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act only allows those providers to refer their patients for MNT, not to provide the service themselves. summaries are created by individuals who are not directly involved in the legislation and errors sometimes occur. The Academy is working now with congressional staff to correct this summary.

2020 Complete Diet Manual and Revisions Download Now Available

Digital downloads of the 2020 Complete Diet Manual and Revisions are now available! Purchase your digital copy of the Diet Manual by completing the Diet Manual Order Form or by visiting the Diet Manual tab of the website. Please direct all questions to

Vicksburg is an Opportunity Zone

Vicksburg has been presented with a Local Foods, Local Places award, through the United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. As recounted on the Local Foods, Local Places website, this honor supports locally led, community-driven efforts to protect air and water quality, preserve open space and farmland, boost economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses, improve access to healthy local food, and promote childhood wellness.

The City of Vicksburg, Shape Up Mississippi and United Way of West Central Mississippi will receive the federal assistance which will develop a program, “Celebrating Diversity Through Local Foods in Vicksburg”, to revitalize the proposed area, develop a local food economy, and serve as an economic developer to revitalize the community of Vicksburg. Registered dietitian and MS-AND member, Ali Hopson is part of the Celebrating Diversity Through Local Foods in Vicksburg steering committee.

Through this program Shape Up Mississippi and the steering committee will create a food hub that combines a farmers market, community garden, demonstration kitchen, educational center and the Catfish Row Museum.

The Mississippi School Nutrition Association


(photo credit: Valerie Weivoda – Lee County School District)

The Mississippi School Nutrition Association (MSNA) inducted the 2020-2021 Board of Directors on June 14, 2020. As with so many meetings these days, the installation had to be virtual, through Zoom. We are so proud of all of the registered dietitians on the MSNA 2020-2021 Board of Directors and Regional leaders:


  • Keba Laird, MBA, RDN, SNS – President-elect
  • Ashley Harris, MS, RDN, SNS – Secretary and MS-AND Representative
  • Valerie Weivoda, MS, RDN, LD, SNS – District Director
  • Alex Hallmark, MS, RDN, SNS – Regional Directors Region I – Northeast
  • Vivian McGarrity, RD, LS – Region III – Central
  • Brad Barlow, MS, RDN – Nominating
  • Doris Schneider, RD – Executive Secretary

It is Time to Take Action

It is our responsibility as food, nutrition and dietetics professionals to promote public policy that includes positive nutrition results for disease management and treatment, as well as preventive health measures.

Take action today at and urge your national congressmen and woman that:

  • access to healthy food and culturally-appropriate, medical nutrition therapy are key to managing diet-related diseases and reducing risk for COVID complications, which is disproportionately experienced by communities of color through the next Senate COVID-19 relief package.
  • the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2020 (H.R. 6971) will help to create a healthier U.S. population because it would expand coverage of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) in Medicare Part B beyond diabetes and renal disease to include: Prediabetes; Obesity; Hypertension; Dyslipidemia; Malnutrition; Eating disorders; Cancer; Celiac disease; HIV/AIDS; and any disease related to unintentional weight loss.

BONUS: The Action Center now has an option for non-members to alert congress members to nutrition related policies. Please let you friends, family, and co-workers know about this important tool and pass the website along to them:

    Dietary Guidelines for Americans


    The Academy is looking for your input on the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Your input will help develop the official Academy comments submitted to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Information collected will be kept confidential. Please click here to include your ideas:

      Board Spotlight

      Lindsay Taylor Mixon RDN, LD

      City: Brandon

      Workplace: Nutrition Systems, Inc

      Position with MS-AND Board of Directors: President-Elect

      Tell us what your position is responsible for, and what you like most about it:

      I am looking forward to creating and developing the agenda for the upcoming 2021 MS-AND annual meeting. There are many differing career paths for RDNs in our state and I want to make sure that we will cover a variety of topics that will interest our attendees.

      What is your favorite hobby/pastime outside of work?

      I love to be outdoors. Camping, hiking, fishing, and snow skiing are just a few things I enjoy doing. I also love traveling with my family.

      What is your favorite place to visit in Mississippi and why?

      This is a tough question because I don’t have just one favorite place to visit in MS. My favorite days are spent visiting remote locations across the state and enjoying the simple things in life with my family. Canoeing, camping, and playing with my children on a sandbar are just a few of my favorite things to do around the state. 

      Member Spotlight

      Tiffani Grant MS, RDN, LD

      City: Jackson

      Workplace: MS State Department of Health, Office of Preventive Health

      What do you like most about your position? 

      Serving as the Director of the Bureau of Community and School Health provides me with the unique opportunity of seeing first-hand, real change in local communities, as well as state-wide, in the execution of in-depth policy initiatives that have a lasting impact on the overall health of the state. It also affords me the opportunity to be active in national professional organizations. These organizations allow me the chance to learn and share with people from the nutrition and public health sector from around the country, in a better effort to serve Mississippians. One such organization is the Association of State and Public Health Nutritionists, for which I will serve as President, beginning August 2020.

      What is your favorite hobby/pastime outside of work?

      I am an avid reader, and really enjoy movies and shopping! But, family is the most important thing in my life. My loved ones, along with close friends, have provided the crucial support system needed in order to navigate uncertain times, as well as celebrate accomplishments.

      What is your favorite place to visit in Mississippi and why?

      I am a graduate of Southern Miss, so I have very fond memories of Hattiesburg and love to visit as often as I can. But recently, the state opened the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, MS, and it has quickly become one of my favorite go-to places. Every time I go, there is always something new that I had not seen or experienced before. Being there, surrounded by the heritage of struggle and triumph, encourages me to push hard to fulfill my purpose, which is to ensure that inclusion and equality for all, remains the bedrock principle I live by. With that said, any position I choose must allow me the opportunity to provide education or polices that reduce health disparities for everyone, regardless of their background in life.

      Delegate Report

      I hope that everyone is having a great July. I know you have all been working hard and making the best of the pandemic situation. Thank you all for your work and dedication to your communities.

      Mississippi is in the “Power of Delegate Support” (POD) 6 – which means we work closely with the Delegates from the Pediatric Nutrition DPG, Hunger and Environmental Nutrition DPG, and the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition as well as the Affiliate Delegates from Illinois, Kentucky, New York, California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. All of the PODs will be working on diversity and inclusion subtopics this year. I encourage you to watch Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors’ (NDEP) diversity and inclusion webinar here.

      On July 21, I attended the Academy’s Professional Development Webinar, “What you need to now to advocate like a pro: Onboarding for ALL Policy Leaders”. It was a great reminder of all of the grassroots opportunities that we have a nutrition and dietetics practitioners. We also found out that there is now an option for non-members to fill out the action alerts. Please pass that website along to everyone you know who will partner with us for strong nutrition related legislations. Another new feature in the Academy Action Center is there is now a State Legislative Tracking Map. This site will help us keep track of active state legislation related to health and nutrition.

      I plan to attend the Academy’s webinars “ALL Delegate Orientation Your Role as a Delegate- Register Now” on July 29 and “All Delegate Orientation Knowledge Based Strategic Decision Making Register Now” on August 18.

      There will be a fall Virtual House of Delegates meeting. I will keep you informed as I find out more information about that.

      Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.


      Lydia West, MPH, RDN, LD, CC, Delegate
      Mississippi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (email)

        Congratulations 2020 MSAND Award Winners!


        Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award ~ Keba Laird

        Keba Laird is the Nutrition Supervisor and School Health Coordinator for Clinton (MS) Public School District. In this role she works hard to help staff produce high quality meals for their customers that meet federal, state and local nutrition standards. Her manner with staff, students and school administrators is never austere or harsh, always open and acting as a mentor and guide.

        In her role of School Health Coordinator for the school district, Mrs. Laird educates school staff, administration, which indirectly influences the students, about health and wellness practices. She also continues to educate herself, recently attaining the School Nutrition Specialist certification and she is currently enrolled in the Doctoral program for Education Leadership at Mississippi College.

        Mrs. Laird serves as a preceptor for dietetic interns during their school food service rotations. The interns are able to experience hands-on school food service by working in the school kitchen. In addition, Mrs. Laird makes sure to involve the interns in nutrient analysis processes and administrative responsibilities involved in Child Nutrition Programs.


        Emerging Dietetic Leader Award ~ Laura Ewoldt

        Laura is the Staff Development Coordinator for Nutrition Systems based out of Jackson.  Although I do not work with Mrs. Ewoldt professionally, I understand that she takes great care when working with the patient population at work. She is a “team player” and ensures that her patients receive patient-centered medical care, so that patients know that they are a partner in their health care.

        Peers say Laura exemplifies the wisdom and professionalism of an Emerging Dietetic Leader Awardee. She demonstrates concern for the promotion of optimal health and nutritional status of the population both her in professional work and volunteer service time. She is interested in teaching others, and, at the same time, understand that we should always be learning and improving ourselves.


        Magnolia Award ~ Caroline Compretta

        In 2015, Caroline decided to champion incorporating nutrition education into medical professional curricula at UMMC.  She wrote a grant for a mobile teaching kitchen, was awarded the grant, and developed a course based on evidence-based nutrition guidelines.  The course is now an official part of the medical school curriculum.  When the question came up of who would teach this course with Caroline, she insisted it be a registered dietitian. This may not sound very remarkable to most people, however, as a graduate student who has taken the same courses as first and second year medical students at UMMC, I can attest to the “nutrition” education that is provided.  Unfortunately, it has historically been given by a non-registered dietitian – typically a physician who does not have food and nutrition expertise.  Caroline understood from the beginning that registered dietitians are invaluable to the healthcare team and are qualified to teach evidence-based nutrition to other healthcare professionals as the food and nutrition experts.  Since Caroline’s mission started, a registered dietitian now teaches throughout the four-year medical school program and teaches in certain residency programs.  Caroline has always been vocal that this is not an effort to make doctors dietitians, it is an opportunity to give them basic, evidence-based nutrition education and introduce them to the importance of registered dietitians as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team.

        Additionally, Caroline has made an impact in the field of food and nutrition scholarship.  As a medical anthropologist, Caroline is interested in the social and cultural aspects of nutrition that impact food intake, access, and overall health.  Caroline has received numerous prestigious grants to better understand barriers to healthy food access and choice and has kept those dollars locally to impact our community.  She has developed meaningful relationships throughout the community through her work with Stew Pot ministries and Operation Shoestring here in Jackson, MS.


        Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award~ Rebecca Butz

        Rebecca is very passionate about the field of dietetics, and works hard to guide clients, patients, and people in their support systems to healthier lifestyles. She uses behavior modification techniques to help reshare thoughts, practices and habits of the people with whom she works.

        Mrs. Butz is very active in MS-AND as the Chair of Education and Research. She attends meetings, asks very pertinent questions and volunteers for district events. Mrs. Butz also attends national meetings to advance her knowledge of food, nutrition and dietetics. She also understands the importance of networking in professional settings and sees it as an opportunity to learn from other professionals. For example, she helps to organize the Mississippi Renal RD biannual meetings, where renal dietitians discuss treating patients with chronic kidney disease or who are on dialysis and current practices in treatment plans.


        Outstanding Dietetics Student of the Year Award in a Coordinated Program ~ Natalie Williams

        Natalie was chosen as a Provost Scholar and a member of Kappa Omicron Nu National Honor Society. Her academic record gains elevation when you consider her vast volunteer efforts where she at an early age demonstrates a balance of school and community. Due to Natalie’s great academic efforts and endless hours of volunteer achievements, she was selected to the University of Mississippi’s Who’s Who Class of 2018, one of the university’s greatest honors.

        Natalie never ceases to be anything but amazing with her wonderful leadership skills. During her undergraduate years, she volunteered for Manna and worked weekly for three years to provide meals to those in need. She was selected as the supervisor of this program where she was entrusted to plan, purchase, prepare, and delivers over 100 meals weekly while overseeing the other student volunteers.  During her supervised practice rotations, Natalie has continued to work well as a team member and has excelled as a leader of the group projects. She delegates with kindness while thinking outside of the box, she provides ideas, insight, and direction. She has been praised by her preceptors for her professional abilities and excellent work skills. She never falters on her responsibilities and can follow the guidelines to the letter. Natalie is the epitome of a what a registered dietitian needs to possess to be successful.


        Outstanding Dietetics Student Award in a Dietetic internship ~ Jaclyn Wehrle

        Jaclyn has always been a well-balanced student, participating in various community service activities and work experiences while consistently maintaining a 3.8 overall GPA in her undergraduate studies and a 3.97 overall GPA in her four semesters of graduate school.  Her work experience includes serving as a Research Assistant and Health is Golden Nutrition Assistant, and her community service involvement includes various activities like volunteering at Extra Table, Rouses Market, Mercy Chefs, and Eagle’s Nest Food Pantry. It is also noteworthy to say Jaclyn has received multiple academic distinctions including Most Outstanding Masters Student and Most Outstanding DPD Student. Jaclyn is a mature leader, comfortable participating in group settings, and extremely motivated to help make a difference in nutrition.

        Jaclyn has been such a pleasure to have in the dietetic internship over these past two years. I have spoken of her academic accomplishment and previous work experience, but I would not want to forget her great personality, constant positive attitude, and bright smile. All of the qualities I have mentioned in this letter make her a great choice for this award. She is a true gem, and I am confident she will excel in any area of dietetics that she chooses. In summary, Jaclyn brings both enthusiasm and experience to the internship and I have no doubt that she will continue to succeed in the years to come. She is truly a pleasure to work with and all the Southern Miss Dietetic Interns feel that she is deserving of the award for Outstanding Dietetic Intern. I have attached her peer nominations on the next page. This will show how big of an impact Jaclyn has had on everyone around her.  I hope the committee will give her serious consideration for this award.


        Outstanding Dietetics Student Award  in a DPD ~ Katelyn Tarr

        With a GPA of 3.58 and double majors, it is easy to see that Katelyn excels academically. Inside the classroom, she is an organized and diligent student who demonstrates excellent nutrition knowledge, basic science knowledge, and critical thinking skills. There is a consensus among her instructors that her academic performance exceeds expectations. Furthermore, she has the ability to apply classroom concepts practically.

        Katelyn is focused and determined outside the classroom as well. She has shown such excellent leadership ability through her volunteer work with our Sports Nutrition program that she was promoted to a Head Volunteer position in 2019. In this capacity, she coordinated schedules, assisted with inventory, and helped to ensure that appropriate food safety guidelines were followed inside a fueling station. Even in her early years in college, she stood out as being mature, with a high level of ability to work independently.


        Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award – Janie Cole

        Janie is currently the Director of the Coordinated Program in Dietetics at the University of Mississippi, Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management.   Janie always puts her students first and gives them sound counsel.  She is always student centered in her instruction and decision making.  Janie lives her life daily as a role model to her students. She brings many years of experience in nutrition and dietetics practice as well as certifications in Adult Weight Management, Adolescent and Children Weight Management, and ServSafe Instructor and Proctor to her students.

        When Janie was in patient care, Janie was an excellent nutrition practitioner whose saw her residents as her first responsibility.  Since Janie has moved to training and educating students and interns as dietitians, she still takes that same responsibility seriously.  She wants her students and interns to be the best practitioner they can be.  As a mentor and role model, she works hard to make sure that her students have the background and work ethic necessary to provide quality professional work as a dietitian.  She brings invaluable working knowledge to the classroom and makes working in the field of dietetics fun.