Objective: Knowledge and competence in sustainable food systems is a priority in dietetic programs and outlined in program accreditation standards and standards of practice for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs). However, limited literature exists on how students are learning about sustainable food systems. The purpose of this study was to explore dietetic student experiences and perceptions after the inclusion of a farm-based experiential-learning activity. Methods: A qualitative approach was utilized to explore student reflections following their experiential-learning with sustainable food systems via university-based farms. Students completed sustainable food systems modules and completed five hours on the university farm. Students then wrote reflections that were coded and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Main themes extracted from the written reflections included 1) The act of learning; 2) Personal growth and responsibility around sustainability; 3) Connecting to community and the local food system; 4) Increased awareness of broader societal impacts; and 5) Professional practice, education, and advocacy. Conclusions: Incorporating farm-based experiential learning and reflection into the dietetics curriculum can provide undergraduate students with a profound learning experience that enhances familiarity and capacity in sustainable food systems. These experiences are critical in laying a foundation and context for building competency during the internship and future practice. More research related to curricular layering and food systems sustainability-related learning methods is needed to identify best practices and competency in students. Additionally, exploration of the educational needs of dietetics faculty and preceptors is warranted.



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