Sandra Venneri, B.Sc., P.H.Ec., specializes in nutrition education. She is an entrepreneur & the owner of Nutrition Bites Consulting which provides a wide-range of services to the public, farms and businesses - “helping them get healthier in little bites”.
Created by Nutrition Bites, Growing Up Healthy is on a mission to provide Canadians of all ages convenient educational tools & resources to educate and build confidence in all aspects of growing food, eating home cooked meals & being an environmentally conscious community.
The original Organic Seed-to-Fork Kits teach anyone how to simply grow, cook and eat healthy at home. They help to foster a simple connection between growing food at home, cooking with fresh and local ingredients and eating nutritious dishes.
Sandra’s passion for education, health and community is reflected in her career & through social media. She was recently accepted into the Master of Public Health program at the University of Waterloo. She currently holds the position of Co-VP of Membership for OHEA.
How did you hear about the PHEc profession and title?
It wasn’t until I went back to certify as an RD that I even knew the profession existed. I took the course Professional Perspectives at Brescia and that was it, I knew I wanted to become a PHEc. Home Ec is what I am all about, it’s all encompassing and not just about one thing. I contacted the association, applied and I was approved right away because of my previous education.
Do you feel you are a better mom because you’re a PHEc?
Mostly no, but somewhat yes. I was a mom before I was a PHEc and at home you feel like you’re a role model for your kids, so if you truly start at home then that will make you a professional. Education is great, it makes me strive to be a better mom and PHEc, because if I’m not living the life of a PHEc then how can I expect people to trust me as a professional. I feel as though being a PHEc makes me more obligated.
How does being a PHEc tie into your businesses?
I became a PHEc, but I thought I was going to be an RD. I love research studies and I love being educated. The problem I came across most often was that most people were being talked to and not shown how. It’s not just the cause and effect, it’s digging deeper and figuring things out and why they aren’t working. I love nutrition coaching etc, but people loved the hands on skills, and they started asking for it. Because of my work, volunteering and my background in food science, paired with my education and my experiences at home, my businesses evolved to be more Home Ec related because that’s what people were asking for. Instead of just the theory they want to know how to apply it! Timing and management, safety in the kitchen, table manners, picky eating, it is all important and all basic skills that a lot of kids are missing out on. Nutrition Bites focuses more on the hands on skills, and Growing Up Healthy Kits is focused on where the food comes from. Making it available to people so you’re still educating while showing them how to improve their health and life. Home Ec isn’t just soft skills, people truly want the education and they want easy convenient ways to learn and to make positive changes.
What do you enjoy most about being an OHEA member?
The involvement, and the networking is amazing. Getting involved in the Executive committee was also awesome. I love being an OHEA member because I can have an active role in it. It allows me to network with people that know much more than me, but yet they are all so open to discussion. People want to involve you and include you. I think a lot of students, other professionals and the public who are not members don’t understand that it is like that. I really made sure to be that stepping stone, between OHEA and everyone else to get more people involved and get talking. They’re just people, with the same mind set as you and me, and they genuinely want to help and support others.
What piece of advice can you offer new or aspiring PHEcs?
Get involved with OHEA! It’s the easiest way to understand more about Home Ec and also get info and skills that will help you find jobs, careers, etc. Get involved and ask how you can help, or send us links and let us know what’s going on in your world. The more eyes out there to make it a community, the better. Take an active role and start emailing with information to share with other members. Toot your own horn and share info, connect and know that people are so friendly and actually care. Not everyone wants to be an RD and they are often lost after they graduate with a Nutrition, Family Studies or Sociology degree. A lot of people identify with OHEA’s values. Sometimes it helps to understand what else is out there. People don’t feel worthy enough if they don’t end up getting the job they aspired to in their undergrad. You have so many talents and abilities, and OHEA really helps you realize that and provides you with inspiration from so many other professionals who are doing so many amazing things in the field that you might not have ever even knew existed.
What has been your greatest professional success?
As a PHEc, I think I’m most proud of my efforts for advocating and creating awareness of our profession. I love making people aware of what a PHEc is, what we do and the idea of having those basic life skills. Knowing that I have educated way more than one person makes me feel great. People need to realize that there is a profession and a skill. Just because you cook at home does not mean you are the expert; there are professionals that are the experts. We need to make the public aware of it and give individuals and families their life skills back. Then there can be more businesses like mine that give people the skills they need to succeed. I think you still need to have the basics no matter what age. For example, ask a friend “do you know how to cook on a budget if you lose your job?” I have seen it happen, and it can really make a difference in your quality of life over time. Making it known that the profession exists is one step in the right direction to help other to make their lives better.
Connect with Sandra:
Website: nutritionbites.ca/ & growinguphealthykits.ca/
Instagram: @nutritionbites & @growinguphealthykits
Twitter: @NutritionBites8 & @GrowUpHealthy