At Work with Carol Chong
This post is part of our #HGatWork series, giving you an inside look at the people behind our work and the leaders who further our mission to empower kids to develop lifelong healthy habits.
Based in Miami, Florida, Carol Chong is one of Healthier Generation’s national nutrition advisors. For six years, Carol has been serving up nutrition advice to thousands of schools and out-of-school time sites across the country. Carol’s warm spirit, quick wit, and passion for children’s health always pulls you in for more. Read on to learn more about Carol.
What inspired you to work for Healthier Generation?
Prior to joining Healthier Generation, I worked at a Healthy Schools Program district in Florida, so I was familiar with the work and mission of Healthier Generation. When I received the opportunity to join the team I was elated, as it gave me the opportunity to put my life’s work in wellness and health promotion into laser focus. Having worked in health care and school nutrition, it was the epitome of my career path, connecting dots putting both areas together to have an impact, leaving my “footprint” across the nation for nutrition and health for children.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Each day I start the morning with a mug of “Jamaican Blue Mountain” coffee – black! No sense in spoiling the flavor of one of the best coffee’s in the world. And some mornings I start my day with a spinning class to get the blood moving and circulation to the brain cells; I have to be on my “A-game” at all times!
But I never have a typical day, sometimes it's jam-packed with meetings, other days colleagues reach out for technical assistance or help to move some needles in our space. There’s a lot of emailing and meetings throughout the day. When I need to prepare content or presentations, I block time on my calendar for intense focus time.
What are you working on right now that really excites you?
I have so many projects, working across Healthier Generation that it is difficult to pinpoint just one thing. I love and am passionate about what I do and am realizing my personal mission to make a difference in child nutrition. I am excited about working in procurement to make things easier for food service directors in small and rural areas, to be able to increase variety and quality of foods and products. I am excited about contributing to learning and professional development of child nutrition professionals to empower them to nourish bodies and brains of the next generation and for their health and success. I am excited about working with colleagues for the common good in providing opportunities and enhancements to programs that can move the needle for children’s health nationwide.
What does working at Healthier Generation mean to you?
Working at Healthier Generation means being in an environment where I can maximize my skills and potential for child nutrition and children’s health and working with professionals that have the same mission and vision.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment (personal or professional)?
Personally, my greatest accomplishment is raising two kids and having them become professionals of their own. My daughter is a pediatric nurse, but found her calling in nursing informatics and loves her work. She presented at the World Nursing Conference last November in Berlin! My son graduated with a degree in food and nutrition science, but is pursuing a finance career at this time.
Professionally, I am most proud of being able to contribute to teaching and assisting school nutrition professionals all that I have learned over the years. I love empowering them to make a difference in their schools and communities for children’s health and success and raising the quality of food that comprise school meals.
At Healthier Generation, we place a lot of emphasis on work-life balance and living a healthy lifestyle. How do you maintain a healthy balance and “walk the talk?”
I work out four times a week, going to spinning and Zumba classes. I swim with my grandsons when the water is warm enough. Yes, in Miami we need the water to be warm! Otherwise, I like to walk or run with them as they play outside in the evenings.
I cook almost daily when I am home, for my grandsons and daughter – she doesn’t cook well, at least that’s what the boys and her husband says! And I make time for volunteerism in my community, whether it is with Habitat for Humanity where I help to build homes, at the fair and expo for students for the culinary competitions, at my church, Orange Bowl and Super Bowl events as a Miami Dolphins community volunteer and more.
What do you enjoy the most about working at Healthier Generation?
Being able to contribute with my colleagues in their work nationally, training and supporting schools, and being part of the Healthier Generation family.
In honor of National Nutrition Month, what is your greatest nutrition advice?
Nutrition and health means balance and moderation. “You are what you eat and, do with what you eat”, so putting that into perspective we must remember that food is our fuel. No matter what we eat, the first and primary function of that food is to provide fuel (calories) for our bodies to run on. Balance with variety, eating lots of colors will provide the most nutrients that we need. And lastly, all foods can fit, so no need to deprive yourself of anything. Just remember to eat with moderation and consideration of what and why, as you make the bicep curl to your lips!