Local nutritionist Michelle Deschenes has taken advantage of funding and grants, which have been made available during the pandemic, to launch an online nutrition course here in Kingston.
As a Registered Dietary Technologist in hospitals throughout Canada for over 20 years, Deschenes specializes in creating tailor-made nutrition plans for her clients. She founded ACE Nutrition and Diet Consulting in 2012 to take the “fight out of food” by combining science and knowledge, and help clients achieve their goals.
Deschenes says her foray into creating an online nutrition course started with the WE-CAN Project at Queen's University.
“I started following their programming and became aware, during the early stages of COVID, that it was imperative to offer my services virtually. It was a perfect time to think outside of the box and start scaling my business digitally,” she said. “The LEAD program of the WE-CAN Project at Queen's provided ongoing information regarding grants and workshops that helped female entrepreneurs achieve their goals and scale their business.”
As many businesses and services were heading online due to pandemic restrictions, Deschenes began formulating a plan to create Kingston’s first online nutrition course.
“It was always a dream of mine to write a nutrition book,” Deschenes shared with Kingstonist. “With COVID, all learning was happening online, and I thought that this would be a good time to write an online nutrition course.”
Being a recipient of both the RE3 Grant and the Digital Main Street Transformation Grant, Deschenes said she was inspired by the funding opportunities, and excited to use her skills to create an online nutrition course.
“When the funding was announced, I was already convinced this was a goal that I was seriously passionate about. It is one thing applying for a grant, and it is another thing qualifying and being awarded the grant,” she continued. “The total grant money awarded covered less than half of the expense to create the project. That fact made me pause briefly, but I strongly feel that 'Nutrition for Life' is the course that is needed right now, and this is the right time for this course.”
Deschenes says she realized it was going to be a huge expense while researching how to develop an online course.
“It would require contracting the services of a few professionals to make my vision a reality,” she said. “The guidance and mentorship of the strategic development of the online course was provided by Chris Morris, the Digital Business Advisor at Kingston Economic Development, and Norman Musengimana, Business Development Manager Small Business & Entrepreneurship.”
Nutrition for Life launched earlier this month, and Deschenes said the timing of the launch has been helpful for her business. Her office in the Westgate Square Professional building was locked down during the pandemic, and people are just now feeling comfortable seeking one-on-one consultations again, she said.
“The 'Nutrition for Life' online course wraps up the wealth of education that would be covered during numerous consultations in the comfort of one's own home. It is gratifying to know that I can help improve people's nutrition and health,” Deschenes expressed. “I have always had a big vision for health, education and helping people. Creating the online nutrition course is one of the best ways to fill the gap especially during these challenging times.”
ACE Nutrition also gives back to the community. The business co-founded National Health and Fitness Day Kingston with the City of Kingston, to highlight and celebrate a day of health and promote physical activity. Deschenes said they also have an aligned vision with the community group Loving Spoonful and share three per cent of their income with the charity to strengthen health and nutrition in the community of Kingston.
“For many years now we have said: Choose ACE Nutrition 'For Your Health and the Health of Your City,” she said.
Story by Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Kingstonist