Gatepost Interview: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves, Food and Nutrition instructor
By Shanleigh Reardon
What is your resume and background?
I graduated from The University of Vermont with a nutrition degree, and when I finished there I went into food service, working in hospitals and colleges and schools. And then, I came back here to Framingham State to get my master’s and do my dietetic internship. So then, when I graduated from here, I did all kinds of things, like nutrition software stuff. I worked for a startup for a little while, The New England Dairy and Food Council and then, I started teaching at Emerson College a couple of nights a week – just a basic nutrition course – which led me into teaching. Then, I came back here to teach full time, in maybe 1999. I’ve just been here kind of o&-and-on since then. Sometimes, I’m full-time. Sometimes, I’m part-time. But, I do a lot of consulting, too, with school nutrition and menu planning and things like that, locally. I’m also the administrative director for the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It’s our national organization for dieticians in Massachusetts. I run that association as well and I work with the faculty ladies for the John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition (JSI).
What was your experience like as a student at FSU?
Well, it was different because I was a grad student, so by then I was much more focused as a student. I had great faculty. There were two faculty in particular Pat Plummer and Pat Luoto, who really, really helped me a lot. Pat Luoto was the faculty member who used to teach the classes that I teach now, and she was great because I had done a lot of food service work before. Pat Plummer was the one who ran the dietetic internship back then, and I worked on a grant planning project with them – this menu planning project. It was great, I really loved it, so I spent a lot of time here. Even when I wasn’t in classes, I spent a lot of time here working on the grant. This was roughly 1992-94.
How did you become interested in food safety
So as a kid I always worked in restaurants. My very first job was at a diner, and then all through college I worked at a restaurant in Vermont. I worked at Bertucci’s down here, and so I was always in the food service field. Once you start learning about food safety and nutrition and all of that, you can’t help but to get into it.
What is your opinion of the food options available to students on campus?
I don’t know a ton, but what I do know is that I have students who do their internships here and so, I see more of the back of the house with what I go through with them and I’m very impressed by it. I always see people cutting up the fresh fruit and they’re always taking the temperatures of the meats. Everything they would teach you in ServSafe, they’re doing over there. I don’t go over there to eat often, but Carolyn Holland, who’s the registered dietician over there, she was a student of mine and I know she’s doing a lot of good things with the Mindful program.
What classes do you currently teach?
Food Service Systems and the Coordinated Program in Dietetics students. In their second year, they do an internship at a food service site, so I oversee that. We use a lot of schools – Natick Public Schools, Needham Public schools, Tufts University, Milton Public Schools, a lot of schools. Harvard is one of our sites that we use. I’m the faculty liaison to the JSI, so instead of teaching a third class, I do that.
What advice would you give to students?
The advice I give students in the food and nutrition field, especially for graduating students, when you leave a job, always leave on good terms, because the world of food and nutrition in Massachusetts is very small, so you’ll see those people again. Either at a conference or at another job, you will always run into these people. So, never just quit and walk out. Always leave on good terms.