How would you describe your job?
Open Arms is a nonprofit meal delivery program that cooks and delivers medically-tailored meals to individuals living with life-threatening illnesses in Twin Cities. We operate under the belief that food is medicine, and with the help of 7,600 volunteers we will deliver over 600,000 healthy meals to our clients this year.
I’ve worked for Open Arms since 2016. My job there is multi-faceted: I oversee operations of our nutrition department to ensure our 1,000 clients receive the best care possible from our team of registered dietitians. Some of my key responsibilities are to maintain our healthy food policy, which includes nutrition guidelines for our 9 different menus, as well as our nutrition counseling program. I write policies and procedures for the organization as they relate to nutrition and work closely with our Food Services Director and Program Director to ensure nutrition is at the forefront of decisions that are made for the program. Additionally, I help develop and maintain relationships with our referral partners, champion the success of our community initiatives including the Summer Meals Program, and measure nutrition program efficacy through reporting on a regular basis. I also help develop nutrition education materials for our clients, provide nutrition counseling, and work with dietetic interns. So, basically a little bit of everything!
On the side from my work at Open Arms, I have a small business called Bri Toby Nutrition Company, where I provide freelance health/nutrition writing services. I’ve had the opportunity to write for several print and online publications, including Today’s Dietitian Magazine and Healthline: Authority Nutrition.
How has the field of nutrition changed and how do you see it continuing to change in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, I can see nutrition becoming more of the “norm” in healthcare especially with the growth of more Food is Medicine organizations like Open Arms! How the field has changed…I mean, it’s constantly changing so it’s hard to narrow it down. I would say with the growth of social media, people have become more aware of the importance of food & nutrition for overall health. This can be seen as a good and a bad thing. It really emphasizes the value of having RDs in communications roles so we can convey accurate and evidence-based nutrition information to the public.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received?
That you don’t have to work in a clinical setting to be successful as an RD! Clinical work has never interested me, but for a while I thought I was never going to “make it” in the field without experience working in a clinic or hospital. However, I’ve been able to do so many awesome things as an RD so far without stepping foot in a traditional clinical position since I was in my internship. I have so much respect for clinical RDs – they are talented, brilliant, and their jobs are oh so important! It’s just not for me, and it doesn’t have to be for you either!
Also – you are allowed to change your mind. Maybe what you thought was going to be your career path doesn’t interest you anymore and that’s OK. Your interests and passions will change over time. You don’t always need to be planning for your “next step” and don’t ever forget to celebrate your accomplishments.
How do you stay organized at work?
Lists everywhere! Every week or two, I sit down and list all the projects I have on my plate on a blank sheet of paper. All the high priority projects with deadlines are at the top, and lower priority ones are at the bottom. I then spend time figuring out what I can delegate and go from there. I also use post-it notes to keep track of one-off projects that come up (this happens a lot in nonprofit world), phone calls I need to return, and things that I need to think about or brainstorm. And then of course I use my Outlook calendar and task lists there to keep track of things.
Name a career accomplishment that you’re most proud of – and why?
One of my career accomplishments that I’m most proud of is my business. Albeit small, having a business while also working full-time is no joke. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and it has taken quite a bit of work and soul-searching to figure out what I actually want to do as a nutrition business owner. It started out as a nutrition coaching business, which wasn’t for me, and evolved to where it is now in the freelance health/nutrition writing niche.
One thing people are surprised to learn about me is…
I was the PICKIEST eater as a child. I didn’t like anything, was pretty much on the “macaroni and cheese diet” for the early years of my life. Most people know I will eat just about anything now and exploring different foods and recipes is one of my favorite things.
What is your favorite part of your job?
That every single day is different and I have the opportunity to gain many unique experiences. I’m never bored and get to use my type A/analytical skills regularly as well as the creative side of my brain. Also, I get to see and hear about the impact that our services have on clients every day which is really rewarding.
What is the most surprising thing for people to learn about being an RD?
That we’re not judging what’s on your plate (and please don’t judge what’s on ours, either!). Also, the amount of schooling and training that we have to go through to even have the RD credential. I’ve been asked if I “had to go to school” to become an RD before. Ugh! Oh, and that we don’t have the nutrition content of every single food memorized :).
Make sure to follow Ariana for more nutrition inspiration!
Brianna Tobritzhofer, MS, RD, LD, Senior Manager of Nutrition Services at Open Arms of Minnesota