Alumna receives national recognition in food service industry
March 10, 2014
A UW-Stout alumna has been recognized in the food service
Katie Wilson was presented the Silver Friend of Child
Nutrition Award recently at the National Foodservice Achievement Management
Excellence awards ceremony.
Wilson is executive director of the National Food Service
Management Institute at the University of Mississippi in University, Miss.
The institute is part of the School of Applied Science at
the university and the only federally funded national center dedicated to
applied research; education and training; and technical assistance for child
Wilson has been executive director since July 2010. Prior to
that, she was a school nutrition director in three Wisconsin school districts —
West Salem, Middleton and Onalaska —and
served as president of the national School Nutrition Association and of the
School Nutrition Foundation.
Wilson, originally from Milwaukee, has two degrees from
UW-Stout, a bachelor's degree in dietetics, 1981, and a master's degree in food
and nutrition sciences, 1984.
She chose UW-Stout because it had been recommended for its
small size and well-known dietetics program. "I always loved chemistry and home
economics, and my seventh-grade home economics teacher talked about the science
of nutrition being dietetics," she said.
In the past 25 years, she has observed changes in the
understanding of the relationship to school nutrition and learning. "I have
seen really great, healthy programs and really poorly run, not so healthy
programs," she said. "I have always said the program is only as good as the
district administrator wants it to be."
In 2010 the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act was passed to
educate and train individuals who administer school nutrition programs. "This
is something that has been needed for a long time, and it is a big change for
programs," Wilson said.
The biggest challenge Wilson finds in the area of school
meals is public perception. "The media glorifies these 'celebrity' chefs that
really don't know much about nutrition or the requirements of the federal
school meals program or the challenges of working in a school environment," she
She also is challenged by the universal problem of
maintaining a trained workforce, which exists in institutional food service as
well as restaurants.
Another challenge is the amount of time students have to eat
lunch. "The lunch period has eroded over the years, and students have less and
less time to get through the line and sit down to eat. If more fresh fruits and
vegetables are served — those take time to consume," she said.
Wilson trains professionals and is dedicated to the goal
that all children should have access to safe, healthy food at school.
For more information about the UW-Stout B.S. degree in dietetics,
go to the website. For more information about the M.S. degree in food and nutritional sciences, click here.