Greater Latrobe gives Seton Hill University interns a taste of food service
Preparing 240 pounds of taco meat or 800 whole-grain dinner rolls is all in a day's work to feed the children of Greater Latrobe School District.
Two interns from Seton Hill University are finding that out as they work with Food Service director Jillian Meloy through December.
“There's never a boring moment,” said Lindsay Hostetler of Acme.
Hostetler and Shannon Powell of Glenshaw are spending the semester learning how to prepare, purchase, inventory and plan food for the district of about 4,100 students.
“Obviously, they have to eat a school lunch on their first day and tell me what they think about it,” Meloy said.
Meloy, a dietitian, is working with the two college juniors in the competitive Coordinated Program in Nutrition & Dietetics at the Greensburg university.
She has hosted interns in the program for the past four years, helping them eventually meet requirements for certification as licensed dietitian-nutritionists from the Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
“They're really getting a well-rounded experience working for a school district,” Meloy said.
Because of the program's growing popularity, this is the first year Greater Latrobe has worked with two interns in the Food Service Department.
“What's great is they can collaborate together and maybe ask more in-depth questions they wouldn't have thought of themselves,” Meloy said.
The program has origins as far back as the 1930s, but interest does seem to have increased, said director Janice Sandrick.
During the students' sophomore year, they must apply for the intern positions in a process that includes interviews, class-rank consideration, references and other resumé material.
“We have never before had to wait-list a qualified Seton Hill student, and this year we did,” Sandrick said.
Interest in healthy eating and alleviating the childhood obesity epidemic may be contributing, she said.
Interns have also been placed this semester at Kiski Area, Norwin, Burrell, Plum and Southmoreland.
Students must pass 35 different competency areas and will have completed 1,300 hours of “supervised practice” during their internships, according to Sandrick.
Powell said that when she was in high school, she never considered all the effort that goes into each meal.
“I never gave any thought to how it was made or what the kitchen looks like back there,” she said.
The interns try their hand in planning meals to match federal regulations while appealing to students, purchasing food and then rotating it in inventory and analyzing what students throw away and how to eliminate waste to save money.
The pair interviewed the school nurse to help plan meals for students with dietary needs like peanut allergies, celiac disease or lactose intolerance.
After leaving Greater Latrobe in December, Powell and Hostetler will spend two more semesters at other Westmoreland County institutions, first in a community setting at places like the Westmoreland County Food Bank, then in a clinical setting such as a nursing home or Excela Latrobe Hospital, which has worked with interns since the 1970s, Sandrick said.
“I'm glad to get out of the classroom and apply the things we've learned,” Powell said.
Seton Hill's program hopes to prepare students for a wide range of professional options when they graduate, Sandrick said.
“It's less ivory tower, more ‘let's see what this is like,' ” she said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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