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UM Food Insecurity Expert Lands National Award

David Holben, professor of nutrition and hospitality management and director of the Office of Food and Nutrition Security at the University of Mississippi, has been recognized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a 2020 Medallion Award recipient.

David Holben, UM professor of nutrition and hospitality management, has been honored with a 2020 Medallion Award for his work to represent and advance the nutrition and dietetics profession. His research focuses on food insecurity and food-based STEM education. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

This award honors academy members who have shown dedication to the standards of the nutrition and dietetics profession through active participation, leadership and devotion to serving others in nutrition and dietetics, as well as allied health fields.

“Dr. Holben exemplifies what it means to be a Medallion awardee,” said Melinda Valliant, chair and professor of nutrition and hospitality management.

“He has served the profession in numerous ways, including at the state, region and national levels, and has represented the profession to other allied health professionals and community partners, demonstrating that registered dietitian nutritionists are the nutrition professionals.”

Melani Duffrin, professor of health sciences at Northern Illinois University, nominated Holben for the award.

“Dr. Holben loves the profession of nutrition and dietetics, has sacrificed to advance it and is an inspiring, outstanding role model for each of us,” she said in her nomination letter.

Holben has been cited more than 2,300 times in works that explore the relationship of dietary patterns and diabetes, obesity, and other conditions to food and nutrition security across the lifespan, optimizing solutions for food and nutrition security to promote health and wellness among vulnerable and underserved groups and communities.

“Dr. Holben’s work has improved community health and well-being with long-standing programs in the Delta and the Mid-South region,” said Peter Grandjean, dean of the School of Applied Sciences. “He champions student engagement in these programs and many have gone on to successful careers in nutrition, public health and other health-related fields.”

Building on a clinical nutrition and science background, Holben focuses his research on food insecurity and food-based STEM education, teaching both undergraduate and graduate nutrition and hospitality management courses.

“The Medallion Award is recognition that Dr. Holben deserves to be listed among the very best scientists and scholars in the profession,” Grandjean said. “We are honored to count him among our faculty in nutrition and hospitality management in the School of Applied Sciences.”

Holben said he is honored and grateful to be selected for the award.

“So many individuals have invested in my growth and development for the past three decades,” he said. “I am so very grateful for those family members, teachers, food and nutrition professionals, students, coworkers and friends.”

Holben serves on the academy’s Council on Research, as well as the Audit and Finance Committee. He also was recently appointed to the membership section advisers as the college section adviser for the School Nutrition Association, the national organization of school nutrition professionals committed to advancing the quality of school meal programs through education and advocacy. He will serve a two-year term starting in August.

For more information about Holben’s food insecurity research and outreach, visit the Office of Food and Nutrition security website at https://nhm.olemiss.edu/ofns/.

The Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management is part of the School of Applied Sciences, which offers professional preparation programs that integrate academic study, clinical training, creative research, service-learning and community outreach, leading to the development of leaders whose professional endeavors will improve health and well-being.

By Halleigh Derrick

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