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Nutrition director for South Fayette schools honored with award

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Tricia Wood

Tricia Wood, Director of Food and Nutritional Services for the South Fayette School District, was recently honored with an award at the UPMC Partnership Appreciation Event held at the Herberman Conference Center at Shadyside Hospital.

The award recognized her work as co-chair for the UPMC Center for Inclusion's Eighth Grade Initiative entitled “Make Me Whole — Body, Mind & Soul.”

Last May, the South Fayette School District hosted the second annual “Fit ‘n Fare” wellness and exercise program. Approximately 500 eighth-grade students from Aliquippa Middle, Beaver Falls Middle, Propel East, Propel Homestead, Propel McKeesport, Propel Montour and South Fayette Middle were treated to lunch and received a Heinz bag, UPMC activity book and nutritional handouts.

Jill Jayne, from “Jump with Jill,” led the students in a fitness routine while participating in an interactive concert. The students also talked to nutritionists and health care professionals while sampling healthy snacks at various booths.

Wood is a member of the Pittsburgh Regional Food Service Directors and has the support of many vendors who provide product and nutritional information for the K-12 lunch programs throughout Pennsylvania.

These vendors include Super Bakery, Concept Food Sales, EFD Associates, General Mills, Gordon Food Services, Integrated Foods, Kellogg, PepsiCO, U.S. Food Services, Mid-Atlantic Dairy, Key Impact Sales & Systems, Wolff Group, and the H.J. Heinz Co.

Similar past programs sponsored by UPMC and South Fayette have taught students about wellness, healthy eating and snacking habits, exercise, dental hygiene, mental health and well-being. These modules are now being offered to other Pittsburgh area public schools.

Wood has been with South Fayette for 11 years. She has a bachelor's degree in business and information technology from California University (Pa.) and a masters in leadership and global business ethics from Duquesne University. She holds credentials from the School Nutrition Association as a food nutritional specialist, one of only 900 from the 85,000 members in the association to successfully pass the certification test.

She is a certified food safety manager by the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals and is also a member of the American Dietetic Association.

She directs 28 staff members and oversees the elementary school cafeteria, three full-service food courts in the intermediate, middle and high schools, and the athletic facility concessions.

As a registered dietetic technician, she is currently working with parents and the school nurses to implement special needs menus such as gluten-free, diabetic options and new meatless meals such as a hummus and yogurt/cheese meal to satisfy the district's diverse population. She is also working on the U.S. Health School Challenge, which showcases the middle school food court.

Under Wood's leadership, the South Fayette School District Food Services Department has won 249 Diamond Awards from the Allegheny County Health Department.

Charlotte Smith is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media and can be reached at 724-693-9441 or charlotte59@comcast.net.

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