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Young Dietitian of the Year helps Philadelphia families take the mystery out of proper nutrition

Need, vision and passion are apparent motives that drove young Messiah College alumnus Krista Yoder Latortue ’06 to found her very own company, Family Food, LLC in the major metropolitan area of Philadelphia after graduation. Recently, she was named Young Dietitian of the Year by the Pennsylvania Dietetic Association and the American Dietetic Association for her success in carrying out the mission of Family Food “to promote happy and healthy families by optimizing the nutritional health of children.”

Recognizing a need
Before attending Messiah College, Yoder Latortue spent a significant amount of time observing urban dynamics in Philadelphia, but she struggled to make sense of her observations. She realized that for urban families, mealtime often becomes a stressful routine. Whether it is a parent’s uncertainty about how to feed a child with a medical condition or a simple confusion about nutritious food for the proper age group, there is a prevalent lack of knowledge about what is nutritious.

Yoder Latortue finally began making sense of these urban patterns when she took advantage of studying at the Messiah College Philadelphia Campus, realizing that there was a need for in-home nutrition services by trained, registered dietitians to support families. She says that she specifically remembers how the professors at the Philadelphia campus “played a large role in helping me articulate thoughts and feelings and realize how they fit and fulfill a biblical and theological framework.” After being encouraged to build and define her theological framework, Yoder Latortue committed to working toward providing all families with nutritious recommendations and support.

Providing a solution
As a result, Yoder Latortue founded Family Food, LLC from Philadelphia in 2009 to promote happy, healthy families by providing them with these services. The company sends trained and registered dietitians to individual homes to assess the needs of a specific family and make nutritional recommendations. Yoder Latortue explains that “providing in-home nutrition services allows our registered dietitians to observe the families in their own environments and make culturally relevant and feasible recommendations.” Essentially, this service helps individualize recommendations based on personal living situations and culture, because Family Food, LLC aims to meet the needs of all families.

Yoder Latortue has been able to witness the exceptional value that families place on this service. When mealtime and nutrition becomes stressful, families begin looking for solutions. However, she explains, “the world of nutrition can be confusing with a magnitude of fad diets, supplements and other unproven methods readily available. Therefore, at Family Food, LLC, we exclusively use registered dietitians, the nutrition experts, to provide evidence-based solutions to families.” Families are relieved to know that they can trust this information, and they quickly grow excited when they witness positive changes in a child’s nutritional status or their family’s mealtime experience.

Making a difference
For example, one of Family Food’s registered dietitians worked with a little girl who was severely underweight, and her family struggled during meal time because of her picky eating. The dietitian assisted the family in applying strategies that would promote weight gain and positive mealtimes by creating a healthy diet consisting of high calorie foods and supplements. Yoder Latortue is proud to say that the little girl “has come very far… today she is no longer underweight, eats a variety of foods, and family meals are now enjoyable.”

Yoder Latortue affirms that her education at Messiah College provided her with a strong foundation in nutrition and dietetics and prepared her to become a successful registered dietitian. “I specifically remember Dr. Kay Witt emphasizing the importance of evidence-based nutrition, a key component of Family Food, LLC today,” reflects Krista, “and Dr. Amy Binkoski sharing stories of different opportunities that are available for registered dietitians.”

Earning recognition
Commenting on Yoder Latortue’s latest achievements, Kay Witt, chair of the department of nutrition and dietetics, said, “As an undergraduate student, Krista stood out as a person who backed up her words with determined action. It is wonderful to see Krista’s enthusiasm for improving the health of urban communities through better nutrition recognized at the state and national levels.”

Yoder Latortue has not let up that determination and enthusiasm since she graduated from Messiah. She continuously seeks to provide nutrition services through her company to all people. Within a year, Family Food, LLC has stretched beyond Philadelphia and now serves seven different counties in Pennsylvania, and they are committed to providing such services at little to no cost for families by seeking alternative funding.

Story by Mary-Grace MacNeil `13.

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