ASU College of Health Solutions brings back Nutrition Bowl with NAU team coming out on top

When Lindsay Gnant first participated in the Nutrition College Bowl as an Arizona State University undergrad in 2011, she fell in love.

“It was the perfect sport for me,” she said. “It’s like the ultimate nerd sport of competitive quizzing. I was all in.”

In fact, Gnant and her faculty mentor, ASU College of Health Solutions Clinical Professor Kathleen Dixon, had enjoyed the experience so much, they again traveled to California State University Northridge, where the competition was held, in 2012, with Gnant serving as the ASU student team coach.

After another immensely positive experience, they had every intention of returning indefinitely. So when Northridge announced in 2013 that they would no longer be hosting the competition, Gnant and Dixon were crestfallen.

Dixon never forgot about the experience, and often lamented the fact that there wasn’t such a competition available to students in Arizona.

Twelve years later, after becoming the president of the Arizona Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, she was finally able to do something about it.

Last month, students from across Arizona participated in the first-ever AZ Nutrition College Bowl, with the Northern Arizona University student team ultimately coming out on top.

The event was a success. But getting it up and running wasn’t easy.

In addition to securing financial support from the College of Health Solutions, Dixon enlisted the help of several faculty and staff members, including associate teaching professors Jessica LehmannTraci Grgich and Maureen McCoy, clinical professors Christy Alexon and Simin Levinson, and Senior Instructional Kitchen Coordinator Kenneth Moody, who provided food prep on the day of the bowl.

College of Health Solutions Professor Emeritus Linda Vaughan donated the trophy that the Northern Arizona University team took home after their win. (Similar to the Territorial Cup, the trophy will travel to whichever institution wins the bowl each year.)

But something was still missing.

“I realized I needed someone to lead the committee, as I had other responsibilities as president,” Dixon said. “Then one day, I thought about who I should contact.”

Gnant was the obvious choice. And even though it had been more than a decade, once again, she was “all in.”

Gnant immediately got to work drafting the rules and formatting of the competition. Meanwhile, Dixon and her team of volunteers sent out flyers to all the universities and colleges in Arizona asking if they would be interested in participating.

“We got some pretty good feedback,” Dixon said.

Once the bowl was underway, those favorable sentiments only multiplied. Both Dixon and Gnant were joyfully vindicated.

“We felt like it was long overdue to be able to bring such a positive and fun experience to our nutrition students here in Arizona,” Gnant said.

One of the major benefits of the nutrition bowl is how it is structured. Teams register with their institution and play in a tournament-style bracket. Two teams play against each other in 10-minute rounds that involve answering questions about the field of nutrition as fast as they can.

Gnant says it’s a fantastic way to study for the exam that nutrition and dietetics students must take to become a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

Next year, the defending champs plan to host the 2025 AZ College Nutrition Bowl at their home institution of Northern Arizona State University.

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