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April 4, 2003

Nutrition advice added to benefit options

by Anne Krapfl
A registered dietitian has been hired to assist Iowa State employees with nutrition-related concerns. The service is an employee benefit available to all employees who work at least one-third time.

Im here to help with any nutritional concerns, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, or simply eating habits that arent all that healthy, said Sally Barclay, who arrived on campus in January. Barclay received her masters degree in nutrition from Purdue University and has worked as a registered dietitian for more than 20 years.

In addition to confidential, one-on-one sessions, Barclay plans to provide a monthly lunch and learn public forum over the noon hour. An April 22 noon forum will look at foods that lower the risk of cancer.

Barclay also will do a grocery store tour this month, advising participants on how to read nutrition labels and purchase healthy foods.

Barclay works out of MacKay Hall, where her job officially is a faculty clinician position in the department of food science and human nutrition (FSHN). But her work is funded on a year-to-year basis with $30,000 from an endowment established in 2001.

As a policyholder, Iowa State made (and subsequently invested) money when the Principal Co. changed from a mutual company to a publicly held company that year. Earnings from the endowment are designated for improvements to employee benefits.

Providing some funding for employee wellness is one of four priorities recommended by the benefits advisory committee this year as a way to enhance employee benefits and potentially reduce health insurance cost increases in the future.

Well look at this on an annual basis and ask, Are we filling a need and are we educating people? said benefits manager Diane Muncrief. As long as people are utilizing it, I think well fund it.

FSHN faculty member Eunice Bassler said a nutrition clinic is a long-term department goal. The clinic would complement two other clinics offered in the college, in financial counseling and marriage and family counseling. The wellness funding for Barclays work helps launch that goal, but Bassler said the future of a nutrition clinic will depend on funding.

Muncrief said the Exercise Clinic, directed by Warren Franke in health and human performance, received $5,000 in wellness funds to extend its service hours this year. Franke also administers the wellness profile, a health assessment (paper) test that was offered through Iowa States former employee wellness program.

Barclay said she and Franke will offer referrals to the others service. Barclays office is 133A MacKay; her phone is 4-9625; e-mail address: Contact her to register for the April lunch and learn or supermarket tour.

Iowa State experimented with an employee wellness program from 1997 to 2000. It was discontinued due to cuts in state funding for the university and because not enough employees, particularly faculty, were using it.

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