DEI Member Spotlight

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September Diversity Awareness

National Hispanic Heritage month

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this  30-day period.

Rosh Hashanah- 2022 

This two-day Jewish celebration of the New Year literally translates to “head of the year” in Hebrew. It is observed on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishrei, the first month in the civil calendar. In 2022, it begins on Monday, September 26, and ends at sundown, Tuesday, September 27.

Traditions Of Rosh Hashanah


It is customary for the women or girls to light candles in the home to usher in the holiday, and on each evening throughout Rosh Hashanah. Blessings are recited when the candles are lit. Check out more on lighting the candles and reciting blessings.

Blessings & Prayers

In addition to the blessings spoken during the lighting of candles each evening, other blessings called Kiddush (meaning sanctification) are recited before the meal. A blessing is spoken over the wine, and another blessing is recited over the bread.


September Spotlight: Marissa Schwam, MS, RD, LDN

I was born in Port Jefferson, New York but lived a majority of my life in middle Georgia. I moved to Florida in 2015 to pursue a career in Nutrition and Dietetics and soon after, became a Registered Dietitian. I have been a practicing RD for almost 2 years, and I started my career as an in-patient geriatric RD but I have recently transitioned to a pediatric RD. I was raised in a Jewish household and cherish memories of holidays/family traditions and loved when my grandmother would make traditional dishes like charoset. As a Dietitian I am fascinated with different ethnic cuisines and traditions and often find myself asking patients to tell me all about their family recipes. I believe it is important for us all to embrace different ethnicities and what better way to connect than through food.

Why did you pursue the dietetics profession and how did your ethnicity play into that decision?

I became an RD because I realized the impact food has on an individual’s health and happiness. Often times I feel people connect best through food because it is something most everyone enjoys.

What are some of your favorite ethnic/traditional foods and why is it your favorite?

Passover has always been my favorite because that is when the entire family usually gets together. Charoset, buttered matzo, and my grandmother’s pot roast were always the showstoppers at Passover.

Rosh Hashanah is approaching. What can you tell us about any customs related to food during this time?  

Rosh Hashanah is the start of the new year for the Jewish people and this holiday ends with Yom Kippur. The 10-ish days in between are thought to be a time where god would determine if you lived or died in the upcoming year, so traditionally this is a time of repentance and prayer. Apples and honey are big staples at Rosh Hashanah. The apples are supposed to have healing powers and honey symbolizes hope that the new year will be sweet, which is why a lot of sweet foods are consumed this holiday.

What steps do you take to counsel a patient from a different culture or racial group?

I always take the time to ask them to share family recipes or staples in their household. This helps me not only understand and appreciate other cultures, but it also helps me gauge my counseling in a more personal/individual way.

What advice do you have for dietitians, DTRs and dietetic students/interns about diversity, equity and inclusivity in the dietetics profession?

We are all different but most of us have one thing in common, we eat! Learning more about different ethnic cuisines and traditions can help us better connect with each other. When we are better connected, we can act as a team instead of an impersonal patient-practitioner relationship.



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Books and articles on diversity, equity, and inclusion


A variety of general resources on diversity, equity, and inclusion


Explore resources on cultural recipes and food


Anti-racism work and resources