During the Academy’s Spotlight on Malnutrition during the month of September, our Foundation would like to highlight our 2021 Abbott Nutrition Malnutrition Award Recipients.

Each year, the Foundation’s Abbott Nutrition Fund recognizes up to four Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics members working in a hospital setting who have made a significant contribution to improve awareness of malnutrition and taking action to address the issue. Congratulations to the following four winners!

Catherine Carter

After spending the last five years as an advocate for malnutrition awareness and researching identification practices, the recognition from the Academy Foundation and Abbott Nutrition is more than I could have ever desired for my patients and my team. I’m so thankful to share this award with them!

Catherine E. Carter, MS, RDN, LDN
Emmaus, Pennsylvania

Catherine has been a Sodexo clinical dietitian at the Lehigh Valley Health Network for six years where she is a pediatric specialist. She earned her BS in Nutrition and completed her internship with Marywood University and completed her master’s degree at Central Michigan University. Her master’s thesis ignited her passion for malnutrition, and she became an advocate for malnutrition awareness and a malnutrition subject matter expert for Sodexo. She’s had the honor of sharing her research and knowledge with local, national and international platforms and is a recipient of the 2018 Sodexo Cornerstone of Care Award for Clinical Excellence.

In her Own Words…

Nutrition was something that my mom and I were always interested in made obvious with my fifth grade science fair project where I measured compared “digestion times” for popular multivitamins stirring them in body- temperature vinegar to simulate the stomach. My studies empowered me as a dietitian in the making and I found my true passion for the field when I understood the depth of the impact nutrition has on every living being no matter the age, race, gender, religion or financial status. Food is one of the few things in life that connects us on a vulnerable level and it’s my privilege to be able to be part of my patients’ journeys and relationship with food, especially with those who struggle the same way I did.

What does receiving this Foundation award mean to you?

It is an absolute honor and privilege to be selected as a recipient of the Abbott Nutrition Malnutrition Award. One of the highlights of my master’s thesis research was getting to work with my study participants face- to- face. This allowed for me to see the faces and learn the names of the malnourished patients we primarily know as statistics. Twenty nine percent of my screened population and thirteen of my study participants passed away by the conclusion of the study, 85% of whom were severely malnourished. One man in particular who was severely malnourished had me in his room for two hours discussing nutrition, his life and his mortality. Not more than a few hours after I left him, he became lethargic and ended up on hospice that night, passing just days later. He said he was proud to be part of the study and wanted it to help others from avoiding his fate. I will never forget him knowing I was one of the last people to spend time with him before he passed. He is a depiction of my research goals: to save lives and to share my research and passion for malnutrition globally.

I also accept this award on behalf of my clinical team at the Lehigh Valley Health Network and Sodexo. I am blessed to work with incredible dietitians who consistently go above and beyond for their patients and are continually amazing me with their creativity and resourcefulness especially in the realm of malnutrition. Every initiative was possible because of their hard work and willingness to grow. This is a win for all of us!

In 1998, ASPEN’s President Ken Kudsk said, “There is no doubt that if malnutrition is allowed to proceed unchecked, patients will eventually die…Can we say – in the end, in my judgement, I did what was best for the patient?” The recognition from the Academy Foundation and Abbott Nutrition is more than I could have ever desired for my patients and my team and I’m so thankful to share this award with them.

Mary Beth Feuling

Receiving the 2021 Abbott Nutrition Malnutrition Award is an amazing way that AND is recognizing me for the dedication and passion I have for providing nutrition care to infants and children. I am grateful for this award and the opportunity to share with others the success we have had at Children’s Wisconsin in changing how we treat children with malnutrition.

Mary Beth Feuling, MS, RD, CSP, CD
Waukesha, Wisconsin

Mary Beth is an Advanced Practice Dietitian at Children’s Wisconsin specializing in working with pediatric patients in the areas of feeding disorders, food allergy, and gastroenterology with a vast range hospital and outpatient of experience. She an expert in nutrition informatics and research. She has published in peer reviewed journals on a range of topics including dietary diversity, malnutrition, food allergy, feeding disorders and nutrition support. She authored the Food Allergy Chapter for both editions of the ASPEN Pediatric Core Curriculum and has been instrumental in helping families navigate the nutritional challenges of malnutrition, feeding disorders, food- allergic and/or food restricted children.

In her Own Words…

I was inspired to transition to a career in nutrition and dietetics after having the experience of being raised on a ranch with parents who were passionate about living a life that was healthy and active. I loved cooking at an early age and found the passion of living a healthful lifestyle. My education and experiences early in my career with the University of Nebraska- Lincoln Food Science Department and Food Processing Center, set the ground work for understanding the role of food in our lives. Through this experience, I found myself yearning to make a difference in the lives of people. Through my internship at the Mayo School of Health Sciences, I quickly realized that I wanted to spend my dietetics career helping infants and children.

What does receiving this Foundation award mean to you?

Receiving the Foundation award is an amazing gift and reminder that my work is making a difference in the lives of the infants and children I care for as well as others within the profession of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Kerry McMillen

Malnutrition affects oncology outcomes. Being recognized for work addressing malnutrition in this population highlights the importance of this issue and the role of the Registered Dietitian Nutrition in comprehensive management from individual counseling to multi- disciplinary education to developing institutional policy. I want to also acknowledge the work and contributions of the SCCA Medical Nutrition team

Kerry K. McMillen MS, RD, CSO, FAND
Seattle, Washington

Kerry is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and has worked in the field of oncology nutrition for over 20 years at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She is currently the Manager of the Medical Nutrition Therapy department and continues to practice clinically. Kerry received her Masters degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Washington.

In her Own Words…

I was always interested in science and specifically, metabolism and digestion. Additionally, I knew from a young age that I wanted to work directly with patients in a medical setting. Getting a graduate degree in Nutritional Sciences as well as pursuing an internship to become a RDN seemed like a great fit for my passions. In my internship, I was fortunate to have a rotation on the oncology unit and I absolutely fell in love with this area of practice. I don’t like to be bored and I quickly realized that oncology patients are NEVER boring and are often very motivated to make changes. They also have complicated metabolic and digestive issues, so I have loved every moment and feel very fortunate to have over two decades of oncology practice.

What you are most looking forward to in your career?

I’m most looking forward to continuing the pursuit of research/clinical practice to highlight the importance of the role of proactive RDN involvement in oncology care. It is essential that we continue to build the evidence base for the role of proactive vs reactive nutrition management in this highly acute population.

I’m also passionate about the pursuit of highlighting the role of the Board Certified Expert in Oncology Nutrition and mentoring students, interns and junior RDNs if they are interested in working in the oncology field.

Arelys Villafane

Receiving the 2021 Abbott Nutrition Malnutrition Award reflects the amazing results of implementing a structured malnutrition project to improve patient outcomes, identification, awareness, and hospital metrics. The improvement in malnutrition awareness has brought the interdisciplinary team to work toward the same goal by getting special attention at each step of the process. This award means so much to me as a champion of the malnutrition initiative in my hospital system.

Arelys Villafane, RDN, LD
Groveland, Florida

Arelys has been a Registered Dietitian for almost 15 years working in the acute-care setting, currently working as a clinical nutrition manager at four Orlando Health hospitals. She has enjoyed her leadership role for the past 13 years, which allows her to create new clinical initiatives to improve patient care processes, while she currently completes her MS in Nutrition & Dietetics at the University of North Florida. Her passion for the past 5 years has been dedicated to malnutrition awareness in the hospital setting to improve patient outcomes with a multidisciplinary team’s collaboration.

In her Own Words…

I have been a Registered Dietitian for almost 15 years working in the acute- care setting. At present, I work as a clinical nutrition manager at four hospitals from Orlando Health. I have enjoyed my leadership role for the past 13 years; this role allows me to create new clinical initiatives to improve patient care processes. I’m currently completing my MS in Nutrition & Dietetics at the University of North Florida. My passion for the past 5 years has been dedicated to malnutrition awareness in the hospital setting to improve patient outcomes with a multidisciplinary team’s collaboration.

What you are most looking forward to in your career?

This award means so much to me. I have been working in malnutrition for the past 5 years in my organization. With the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team, I have developed new initiatives and policies to improve malnutrition awareness and patient care. One of our current challenges is unplanned readmissions in patients with a malnutrition diagnosis. We are currently working with our administrators at each hospital to support the need for additional initiatives to reduce unplanned readmissions. This award can help me overcome challenges related to the initiation of new initiatives for malnutrition treatment during the discharge process.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation thanks Abbott Nutrition for supporting this Award and these dynamic individuals.

Award Application and Timeline Information

All applications and timelines for Foundation funding opportunities are made available electronically within the Foundation’s application portal. Generally, the scholarship applications are available from mid- February to mid-April, most award and grant applications are available from December to February, and fellowship opportunities are posted as they become available.

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