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PLEASE SEE this video for a full description of this project:

According to the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), eating disorders are second only to opioid addiction for the deadliest mental illnesses, with approximately 10,200 deaths each year (Graber, 2022). In addition, reports have indicated that eating disorders have jumped from 3.5% from 2000-2006, to 7.8% from 2013-2018 (Graber, 2022). The situation has only worsened since the pandemic. Eating disorders are heavily influenced by emotions such as stress and anxiety; with spikes in these, coupled with social isolation, it is no surprise that the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) helpline has reported a 40% increase in calls since March 2020 (Frye, 2021). Similarly, the demand for eating disorder treatment facilities has skyrocketed. Dr. Erin Accurso, the clinical director of the eating disorders program at the University of California stated, “our inpatient unit has exploded…taking in more than twice as many adolescent patients as it did before the pandemic…outpatient services are similarly overwhelmed” (Damour, 2021, pp.2). This increased demand requires more services to meet it.

Currently, in Cortland County, there are no therapists that individuals suffering from eating disorders can see within a three-hour round-trip drive. Virtual therapy options, though available, are often ineffective in combating an eating disorder because of less accountability, and therefore, in-person care is crucial. The project set to address this through raising money and awareness for specialized training in eating disorders. By partnering with the Cortland County Mental Health Department, the money raised from the event would be given to train some of their clinicians in eating disorders.

The service-learning project, trEATING Disorders 5k fun run, addressed this by raising both money and awareness in Cortland County and beyond. As word spread about the event, people from the surrounding areas- Syracuse, Corning, Binghamton, and Ithaca- came to support. My personal experience with an eating disorder made the 5k helped to gain the interest of local radio and news stations, enabling further advertising of the event. While the number of people reached by media and news stations cannot be fully known, for the event itself, there were 54 registrants for the 5k and 15 pre-registrants for the raffle baskets. There were approximately 10-15 volunteers at the event as well as police assistance. Thanks to local businesses, most of the post-run snacks were provided, and there were 16 baskets to raffle off. All in all, the event raised an $8,500 check that I delivered to the Mental Health Department which they will be using to train clinicians in eating disorders.


Damour, L. (2021, April 28). Eating disorders in teens have 'exploded' in the pandemic. The New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2023, from

Frye, D. (2021, May 7). Why eating disorders surged through Covid-19. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 14, 2023, from

Graber, E. (2022, January 13). Eating disorders are on the rise. American Society for Nutrition. Retrieved April 14, 2023, from


Eating disorders, therapy, fundraising