<i>Nutrition Program <a>by Monica McVicker</a></i> See our WIC program<i><a></a></i> The TEAM  <i><a></a></i> Health department <i><a>Robeson County</a></i>

Eat Right

It's about eating right
You realize the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Find out if it’s time to seek the assistance of a registered dietitian.


Celebrate Breastfeeding Awareness with Us!
One study found the risk of childhood cancer in formula-fed children was 2-8 times that of long-term breastfed children. The risk for short-term formula feeders was 1-9 times that of long-term breast feeders.

My Plate

What is My Plate?
The federal government's new food group symbol, MyPlate, will replace MyPyramid. It will help consumers think about their food choices by building a healthy plate. Read the press release..

Health & Wellness

Study: raising good cholesterol has little impact
Raising the blood levels of good cholesterol does nothing to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients already taking statins to lower their bad cholesterol, a study has determined..

Nutrition Division

The Nutrition Program works to help our community make wise food choices, to promote health and wellness. We have a staff of dietitians and nutritionists who are dedicated to keep the public informed and educated about nutrition and food choices.

Our energetic staff is available to provide individual dietary counseling. We have the expertise in pediatric and adult nutrition needs.

We assist the Public Schools of Robeson County to meet the special dietary concerns of its students. Our School Dietitian assesses and makes dietary modifications to menus for students with diet orders from their medical provider in coordination with the Child Nutrition Program.

The Nutrition Program is proud to be an integral part of American Diabetes Association Recognized Diabetes Education Program located at the Robeson County Health Department. We are partners with the Nursing Program to provide Diabetes Self Management Training to individuals with diagnosed diabetes with referrals from their Medical Provider.

We also provide numerous agencies within and surrounding Robeson County with Nutritional Services.

Let the Nutrition Program at the Robeson County Health Department be the best source of YOUR NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION.

For more information call Monica McVicker, RD, Nutrition Program Director at (910) 671-3274.

Homespun Nurturing Breastfeeding Program

The Nutrition Division also has a special group of women who assist mothers choosing to breastfeed their children. With the generous funding of Smart Start, the Homespun Nurturing Breastfeeding Peer Counselor program provides assessments and support to any nursing mothers within Robeson County. The program offers home visits, phone contact and classes.

This program offers breastfeeding support and prenatal breastfeeding education to pregnant women and their families. Emphasis is placed on breastfeeding education and promotions as well as referring women and children to primary health care provider. It encourages WIC participation, medical insurance, and immunizations for young children.

Services operate countywide seven days a week from 8:00am-5:00pm with limited evening hours.

Breastfed is Best Fed. Please contact the Breastfeeding Peer Counselors at (910) 608-2114 or (910)-671-3736.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an abnormal reaction of the immune system to specific proteins in certain foods. The body may see a usually harmless food as harmful and releases chemicals to destroy the threatening food. An allergic reaction can be triggered by ingesting, inhaling, or touching the food. Side effects can range from mild to life-threatening. Infants younger than 2 years old are more likely to develop food allergies than older kids and adults. Food allergies can go away but some can last a lifetime.

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

A food intolerance is an adverse reaction to certain foods that is not caused by an immune response. Food intolerances may cause digestive, skin, and breathing problems. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms are similar to food allergies, so it can be difficult to tell the difference.

Common Food Allergies

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.)
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies

  • Respiratory Tract
  • Hay fever
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, watery, red eyes
  • Cough
  • Asthma
  • Airway tightening

Nutrition Facts and Myths

We hear all the time about different diets that promise us immediate weight loss, or foods we should stop eating because their “bad” for us, and so on. Well a lot of these “facts” are in fact myths. Here are 5 of the most common known myths:

Myth #1: Fad diets work for permanent weight loss

Due to certain dietary restrictions or eliminations, fad diets can actually be unhealthy because you are not getting all of the nutrients your body needs. Also, by limiting your calorie intake and losing weight so rapidly (more than 3 pounds a week after the first few weeks), it could result in heart rhythm abnormalities! Fad diets are okay for quick weight loss but it is often difficult to keep that weight off once the diet ends. It is not uncommon for most people to gain back all the weight they lost if not more.
Instead of going on a fad diet, try losing weight the healthy way! By losing ˝ to 2 pounds a week, along with eating a healthy diet, watching your portion sizes, and becoming more physical active, you will be much more successful at losing the weight and keeping it off.

Myth #2: Starches are fattening and should be limited when trying to lose weight.

Starches are a very important component of our diet that our body uses for energy, found in bread, rice, pasta, cereals, fruits, and some vegetables. While these items may be high in starch they are actually lower in fat and calories. However, those will increase when you consume large quantities of them and add toppings like butter, sour cream, and mayonnaise.
So don’t eliminate starches from your diet! Rather, create a healthy eating plan and work on including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products. Also, incorporate lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts for your protein, staying away from those that are fried! These additions, along with switching to items that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars can lower your risk for a number of health problems.

Myth #3: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

When we deprive ourselves of 3 to 4 meals a day, our body goes into starvation mode and stores what little calories it has, as fat. Those who skip meals often tend to be heavier than those who eat smaller frequent meals every day. Skipping meals will cause you to be hungrier during the day and might cause you to eat more at your next meal.
Try to eat 3 to 4 smaller meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism going and help you maintain your weight. If you know you will be traveling for the day, pack some healthy snacks to go! Make sure meals and snacks include a variety of healthy, low-fat, low-calorie foods.

Myth #4: Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain.

It is believed that late night snacking will cause you to gain weight if eaten after 8 p.m. However, it is not the late night snacking, it is what and how much you are snacking on, how much physical activity you did that day and also, what you ate that day. Regardless of what you eat, your body will always store any extra calories as fat.
If you find yourself constantly snacking at night, try brushing your teeth after your last meal or chewing sugar free gum. Also, make sure you are not sitting in front of the television when you snack because it can be a distraction and cause you to overeat.

Myth #5: All Fats are bad

Like starches, fats are a necessary part of our diet that help with nutrient absorption, nerve transmission, and many other functions! However, when consumed in excessive amounts, fats contribute to weight gain, heart disease and certain types of cancers. It is important to recognize the difference between the types of fat and replace the bad fats (saturated and trans fat) with the good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat). By making this change and making sure that you do not consume more than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fat or a total of more than 30% from total fat, you may lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

If you are ever unsure of information you hear regarding nutrition that could affect your health, consult with your physician and/or Registered Dietitian! They can guide you in making safe and effective choices for weight loss and assist you in making healthier diet and lifestyle changes.

East Carolina University, Dietetic Intern, Morgan Baryla

Food Safety During the Holidays

Bacteria loves our delicious holiday food as much as we do! If we are not careful to handle, cook, and store food properly, our holidays may not be so happy. Follow the tips below to prevent foodborne illness this season.


  • Pick up the turkey and meats after other shopping.
  • Keep foods that won’t be cooked (like produce) separate from raw eggs and meats in your cart.
  • Bag your meats separately from other groceries.


  • Thaw frozen turkey in the refrigerator, in the microwave using the defrost setting, or under cold water (change the water every 30 minutes). Never thaw meats on the counter or under hot water.
  • If you thaw in the refrigerator, put the turkey on the bottom shelf so it doesn’t drip on other foods. If you thaw in the microwave, cook the meat immediately.


  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after prepping food and after handling raw meat. Wash with soap and warm running water for 20 seconds.
  • Clean all kitchen surfaces like cutting boards, countertops, appliances, and utensils.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables under cool running water.


  • Use separate cutting boards for foods that will be cooked (like meat) and foods that won’t be cooked (like produce). Also, use separate knives for cutting on these boards.
  • Use separate spoons and forks for stirring, tasting, and serving food.
  • Use a meat thermometer as it is the only reliable way to find out if your food is done. Read the internal temperature of turkey by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast or innermost part of the thigh.
  • Cook turkey to 165°F.
  • Cook stuffing inside the turkey to 165°F.
  • Cook ham and pork to 160°F.
  • Bring sauce and gravy to a rolling boil before serving.
  • Don’t put any cooked meat on an unwashed plate that had uncooked food on it.


  • Make sure your refrigerator is set at 40°F and your freezer at 0°F.
  • Refrigerate all leftovers within two hours of the time they were finished cooking.
  • If a dish is to be chilled for serving or storage, refrigerate it immediately. Don’t chill it on the counter.
  • Cooked turkey will last 2 – 6 months in the freezer in freezer bags or about 3 – 4 days in the refrigerator.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!


  • Bring sauce and gravy to a rolling boil before re-serving.
  • Reheat all leftovers to 165°F.

For more information visit FoodSatety.gov or The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Caroline Knauss, ECU Dietetic Intern

Contact Us

Division Director Monica McVicker, RD 910-671-3274
WIC Coordinator Amy D’Angelo BS, MPH 910-671-3222
Nutritionist I Vacant
Nutritionist II Dunitra Ford, BS 910-671-3235
Nutritionist II Lauren Clark, BS 910-671-3753
Nutritionist II Angela Gibbs, MS 910-671-3271
Nutritionist III Deena Locklear, MPH, RD 910-671-3272
Medical Office Assistant Susana Plancarte 910-671-3273
Lab Assistant Beverly Gillespie
High Risk Dietitian Becky Pope, MS, RD, LDN 910-671-3470
Peer Counselors
Peer Counselors Angela Davis 910-671-3482

For more Information: 910-671-3262