Project Connect


Ashley Marquis

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines


The University of North Dakota's nutrition and dietetics students served up some help last week at the fifth annual Project Connect.

Project Connect was held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hope Church on November 21 in Grand Forks, ND. The event is for families and individuals who either are homeless or are struggling with the cost of housing and are concerned they may become homeless. Various agencies in the community also attended the event to provide services such as health care, vision screening, haircuts, hygiene items such as blankets, coats, socks, heating assistance, legal and mental health assistance and job counseling.

Nutrition and dietetics students volunteered to help out in a variety of ways. The Student Association for Nutrition and Dietetics (SAND) volunteered to be client guides, students of senior status volunteered at the nutrition education display, and students enrolled in the Foodservice Systems Production course prepared a meal for both participants and volunteers.

UND student, Sarah Knodel, volunteered as a client guide and enjoyed helped participants find the services they needed by taking them to services such as getting a flu shot, haircut, or warm weather gear.

"Project Connect helps me prepare for my career in dietetics because the whole time it is one on one with people that you have never met and it makes you get out of your box and interact with people that you may not normally interact with," Knodel said.

Students who helped in preparing and serving food also enjoyed their experience, UND professor Doris Wang said. Wang is the faculty advisor for SAND and also teaches the food preparation course.

"When soliciting feedback from the food production students on whether to do this again next year, every one of them said yes; it is an important thing we did," Wang said, "It helps develop professionalism in our students and reminds them how important it is to give back to the community that offers so much to us."

Although students have volunteered in the past, this was the first year that students worked as client guides and prepared and served a meal. Students who prepared the meal were able to work in the food production area at the Wilkerson Dining Center where they baked cookies, washed apples, and prepared 400 servings of soup.

"It is important to note the wonderful cooperation received from Orlynn Rosaasen, director of UND Dining, Jason Gallagher, the manager at Wilkerson and the food service staff at Wilkerson Dining for allowing us to work in their food production area and assist us as needed," Wang said.

It is estimated that students helped over 300 people at Project Connect.

"My favorite part of the event was helping my clients get all the supplies that they came to the event in need of like blankets, gloves, hats and medical information," Knodel said, "I also loved talking to my clients and hearing their story of how they got to the position they are in and how they live and how they are trying to get back on their feet."