Labor of love

Keene State student interns at Our Place

BELLOWS FALLS — From Southern California to Georgia to Woodstock, Lauren Dodge's studies have led her on a roundabout route toward her goal of becoming a sports nutritionist.

Dodge recently spent time as an intern at Our Place Drop-in Center in Bellows Falls learning about the charitable food system and giving back what she has learned about dietetics as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia and a graduate student at Keene State College.

She has worked alongside the staff at OP for three weeks to learn what the food pantry offers and to give back some of what she has learned.

It is one of the stops on her internship program, which has taken her to a sports nutrition program at Dartmouth College, where she worked with athletes, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where she was involved in a clinical nutrition program. She will also do internships at an addiction recovery house and on a farm.

Of her time at Our Place, she says, “I have never been in a place like this before with a community-style kitchen. I love connecting with the guests.”

“It's nice to see a group connected and, in a way, that helps people beyond food insecurity,” she added.

While at Our Place, she has helped in the kitchen, processed food, and cooked and served the daily meals. She has also dazzled the staff with her cycling skills, biking back and forth from Woodstock on some of the hottest days of the year.

She and her boyfriend both hope to become professional cyclists and start their own team.

“Cycling is an endurance sport,” she said, “and cyclists need professionals to monitor their huge nutritional needs.”

Meanwhile, she is learning how to meet those needs and keeping in shape on the roads of Vermont while also holding down a part-time job in Woodstock.

Dodge's work at Our Place fits into a standard framework of 12 activities required by the Keene State program. Other activities for fourth-year interns include exposure to the Vermont Foodbank, local farms, hospitals, New Hampshire Community Action, and the Women and Children program.

After she finishes her studies, Dodge will take a national exam to become a registered dietitian.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates