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Christina Johnson, MS, RD

Christina Johnson

What does a day in the life of Christina look like?

I get to work, Nutrition Services for Gresham Barlow School district, around 7:30 am M-F. I usually head home anytime between 4:30-6 in the evening. Between those hours I wear many hats, including menu development, manager, caterer, lunch lady, computer technician and anything in between. I manage almost 100 employees at 21 school locations. During the day I spend my time in my office looking at menus, and learning about and implementing the regulations for the National School Lunch & Breakfast Programs. I put together menus and analyze recipes for nutritional quality. I answer phones and emails, mostly questions from my employees, and attend meetings and webinars. There is never a dull day as a food service manager!

If you could give one piece of advice to a dietetic intern, or someone who is interested in becoming an RD, what would it be?

To keep an open mind, be persistent, and stay involved. Although going into my internship I knew I preferred public health to clinical dietetics, it was a way better learning experience keeping an open mind about all the rotations I completed. Same thing for when I graduated and was looking for a job. Living in Portland, the RD market is pretty saturated, and being new to the field I wanted to keep an open mind so I could get a job that would help me learn and grow in the field. Fortunately I kept my resume updated and posted on job websites and LinkedIn, which is how my boss found me and contacted me for an interview.

Staying involved helps keep my skills sharp and keeps and improves contacts in the community. It is nice to have a professional and intelligent conversation about nutrition and health related topics, especially working in public health/food service.

What would you consider to be the best part of your job?

The kids. I love the days I can get out of the office and go out to schools and help serve breakfast or lunch. I love seeing the interaction between our “lunch ladies” and the kids. We do promotions to get the kids excited, like Dr. Suess day, and seeing their reactions to the green eggs and ham is priceless. I also like to ask them what their favorite lunch food is, or ask them how they like certain garden bar items. I get a nice feeling of accomplishment when I can get even just one kiddo to try a new fruit or veggie.

What books have shaped you and your practice the most?

Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

Health at Every Size, by Linda Bacon

The Food Lover’s Companion, by Sharon Tyler Herbst

In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

Any cookbook

Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bordain

Christina Johnson

Where can we find you on the web?

Tell us about your favorite vacation.

Two favorite vacations. The first was a trip I took to Italy in 2004. It was amazing to experience the culture and way of life in that part of the world. As a professional cook at that time, the food and drink was the highlight of the trip.

The second vacation was my honeymoon in Jamaica. Although we spent some time enjoying the outdoor activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and hiking up a waterfall, just laying on the beach reading was amazing. Since this trip came in the middle of my program at OHSU, it was a nice getaway. It was nice to unplug and relax with not a worry on my mind for almost ten days!

What do you do to de-stress or find balance in your life?

I make sure to get exercise on a regular basis. Although I am now management and am expected to work long hours, I make sure to get out of the office and to the gym at least twice a week. I also enjoy the great outdoor activities that Portland has to offer with friends on weekend. I also enjoy reading every evening before I get to bed to pull my mind away from the stress of life.

How did you end up in Portland?

I was accepted into the MS/DI program at OHSU in 2011. I fell in love with Portland and decided to stay!

What is your favorite local Portland business and why?

It isn’t really one business but a few put together. I enjoy the farmer’s markets, of the many that are offered in Portland, I usually can be found at the PSU market on Saturday mornings. This is where my two careers and passions-cooking and nutrition-intersect. I love the sight of the huge variety of foods that are offered, as well as the smells that are wafting through the air, especially fresh basil. It turns my creative thinking cap on as I walk though and start to imagine what recipes I can make during the week.

What is the last book you read for fun? Would you recommend this book?

The last serious book I read for fun is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. It is a great book about gender equality, both professionally in work situations as well as personally at home. It is about women promoting themselves and being equals. It is a book I highly recommend.

Christina Johnson


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