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Learning in a Real-World Environment

State-of-the-Art Lab Prepares Students for Careers

By Emily Parker
The new nutrition lab appliances.

Learning in a Real-World Environment

State-of-the-Art Lab Prepares Students for Careers

By Emily Parker

As students walk into the newly renovated Nutrition Lab in Martin Hall, they see a space that underwent a major transformation in 2021 because of a gift from Roy Nifong, father of Marianne Nifong Raker, ’72, who was a home economics major at Meredith. The gift is in memory of his wife and Raker’s mother, Grace. The Nifongs always considered education a top priority and are pleased to give current and future students a state-of-the-art lab facility.

The lab before the renovation served the needs of students for decades, but through the years food and nutrition majors have changed as they have become more entrepreneurial and focused on a commercial food service environment instead of a home-based curriculum. The Wake County Health Department was consulted on the design of the new lab so the entire project was built to health department standards and simulates the environment students will work in once they graduate from Meredith in areas such as nutrition education, sales, food service management, public policy or health fields, and the local and sustainable food industry. The space is also serving Meredith students in the hospitality and tourism management program interested in event management and culinary arts and it will help students prepare to take the national professional examination to become a registered dietitian. 

The entire space was demolished and the area expanded into the adjacent hallway beginning in May 2021. The bigger space provides an open feeling between the classroom and the actual kitchen. All new gas lines, electrical, water, and drain systems were installed. Equipment and tables are on wheels, so everything can be moved around, allowing flexibility when teaching and learning.

The Lab Contains

  • 4-burner induction range
      • Built for low-vision students
      • Only one in Raleigh
      • Only heats up molecules of iron, so you can put your hand on it and it is cool
      • Boils water in 60 seconds
  • Food warmer
  • Countertop flat grill
  • Countertop charbroiler
  • A full-size hood system was installed with a dedicated air conditioning unit, complete with new ductwork for the HVAC and the exhaust hood system. The hood is equipped with a top-of-the-line Ansel fire extinguisher system and pull-out panels so professors can teach students how to clean and what health inspectors look for during an inspection. The system is
      • Energy efficient
      • Quiet
      • Equipped with a dedicated make-up system
  • Combi-Oven, which can roast, steam, and air fry
  • 30-gallon kettle
  • Double convection oven
  • 6 sinks
  • 2 dishwashers
  • Three 6-burner gas ranges
  • Fryer
  • Tilting braising skillet that can fill with water bath for canning
  • Four work tables on wheels, allowing flexibility when teaching and learning
  • A large dry storage
  • Walk-in freezer and refrigerator

To see construction photos of the new spaces, visit

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