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Growing her own garden

Growing her own garden

Rebecca Sutton ’25 November 28, 2022

Each year the University of Dayton hosts the annual Dinner in the Desert event, planned by students as a fundraiser for the Dayton Foodbank and the Gem City Market Cooperative. The concept began seven years ago by professors and students to bring attention to Dayton neighborhoods that are considered “food deserts,” lacking a full-service grocery store within 1 mile.

Christina Green helps cooking
Green helps with the meal prep at last year's Dinner in the Desert.

In this, its sixth year, one student in particular will be contributing her real-world experience and passion for nutrition at the Dec. 2 event — Alabama native and junior dietetics major Christina Green.

Green is a recipient of the Osher Re-entry Scholarship, which helps students who have been out of school for a few years return and adapt back to campus. She enrolled in the dietetics program at UD last fall.

“It's a very well-established program,” Green said. “From the very beginning of getting into their program, they set you up for success.”

“They set you up for success.”

Green said she wanted to go back to school and was inspired to study nutrition while working as a chef in the Dayton area. Being a single mom with a young daughter, Green knew that she wanted a better life for the both of them.

Green said the dietetics program, which can be demanding, ensures that students are well-prepared for graduate school, future careers and internships. At the heart of the program are the professors, who have created a supportive environment for Green and her daughter. 

“I was worried about coming in as a nontraditional student and getting left behind, but it's not like that at all,” Green said. “It’s like family.”

Green first became involved with Dinner in the Desert when one of her professors recommended her to be a chef for the event last year. 

“I thought that was really cool that my professor took my real-world experience, and I was able to do something with it here at school,” she said.

This year, as a chef for the event, she has multiple dishes planned that present the history of sugar and connect it to social justice and historical and environmental issues. Her goal is to educate others and inspire them to evaluate their knowledge of food history through creative dishes. 

“... it has helped me be comfortable — to put my insecurities that I’ve dealt with out there to help other people.”

“I've learned so many new things, and it has helped me be comfortable  — to put my insecurities that I’ve dealt with out there to help other people,” she said.

After graduation, Green plans to earn her master’s degree in sustainable food systems and complete an internship before taking her boards to become a licensed dietician. She said through her entire academic journey, her primary motivation has been her daughter. The mother and daughter want to own a farm one day.

“That’s the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said, “To make that dream happen, not for me, but for her – I have to keep pushing.”


Photography courtesy of Spectrum News/Michelle Alfini.

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