Carla Escribano, a student in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education Doctor of Education (EdD) program, was named the 2023 Director of the Year by the School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania (SNAPA). She will be recognized at the organization’s annual conference in August 2023.
The award recognizes Escribano’s contributions as director of food and nutrition services for Quaker Valley School District.
“As a nutrition professional, I believe it's essential to inspire and educate others on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” says Escribano. “Receiving this award is a testament to the impact I've made in my community, and it inspires me to continue doing what I love and making a difference in the lives of others.”
At Quaker Valley, Escribano works with the school’s life skills lead teacher on the high school’s coffee shop. The program, which provides breakfast meals and coffee drinks to students, puts students in charge of running the operation.
“By providing hands-on training in a real-world setting, the students are learning valuable job skills,” says Escribano. “I find this partnership to be highly fulfilling and rewarding, as it equips students with the skills they need to succeed in their future careers.”
SNAPA also recognized Escribano for her sustainability efforts to reduce food waste and use local, seasonal ingredients, as well as her work to streamline operations in the district’s food service program.
When reflecting on what drew her to a career in nutrition, Escribano cites her upbringing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she developed a love for eating healthy and sharing her passion for nutrition with others. This led her to earning a bachelor’s in nutrition from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s in wellness and human performance from the Pitt School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
“Through my current role at Quaker Valley and a close partnership with the Pittsburgh Food Bank, we have been able to increase awareness and access to healthy food options, resulting in a tremendous increase in breakfast meal sales and overall awareness,” says Escribano. “My passion for nutrition and educating others on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle has driven my career path, and I am proud of the work I have done and continue to do in my community.”
This passion inspired Escribano to pursue an EdD in health and physical activity at Pitt Education.
As a student, she is researching the benefits of providing healthy, cooked-from-scratch lunch meals instead of the highly processed foods found in many school cafeterias.
Through her coursework, she is delving deeper into the various aspects of education and nutrition, such as policy development, program evaluation, and community engagement.
Her EdD experience at Pitt Education has allowed Escribano to further explore education as a powerful tool for promoting healthy lifestyles.
“I’ve developed a more comprehensive understanding of how nutrition education can be incorporated into educational settings, particularly in schools,” says Escribano. “Additionally, my EdD experience has allowed me to collaborate with a diverse group of individuals, including educators, nutrition professionals, and community stakeholders. It’s provided me with valuable networking opportunities and has broadened my perspective on the role of nutrition education in education and community settings.”