Christina W. Smith MS, RD, LD was able to hone her love of food and desire to help people into a fulfilling career. As Nutrition Services Manager, Food and Child Nutrition Services at Dallas Independent School District, Smith is, in many ways, a rising star.
She is active in professional associations and, as the mother of a young child, is selective about what she volunteers for and takes on so she can maximize her contributions with the time she has available.
In June, she was named Education Chair with the Texas Association for School Nutrition. She says she sees this as an opportunity to have a positive influence on students and families, and talks enthusiastically about the benefit widespread changes in diet and lifestyle can have for the public as a result.
“Like other successful campaigns — seat belts and smoking cessation — that began in schools with an effective national initiative, I believe we can positively impact childhood obesity and other diet related diseases,” the Louisiana-born Smith says. “Schools can educate students and then students in turn educate families.”
How did you get into your field?
My bachelor of science is in biology from Stephen F. Austin State University. I had a great teacher, Suzy Weems, a past president of Texas Dietetic Association, who enlightened me about the field of dietetics.
I learned that through dietetics, I could merge my passions: love of food and a desire to help people through disease prevention and science.
You were recently named Education Chair with the Texas Association for School Nutrition. How did you earn that appointment?
I was introduced to TASN when I began working for Dallas ISD Food and Child Nutrition Services. I began on the Nutrition Education committee.
Last year, I was the Chair of the Nutrition Education Committee. This June, I was installed as Education Chair for TASN. I am excited to serve such a great organization.
What other organizations are you involved with?
I am very involved with the Dallas Area Coalition for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity. I am a member of School Nutrition Association and many other organizations and committees.
Where did you grow up?
In the land of alligators, beignets, crawfish etouffee, gumbo, jambalaya and zydeco music…Louisiana.
What's your earliest memory of food?
My earliest memory of food and first experience with quantity food production is preparing Christmas dinner with my mom. We would begin planning immediately after Thanksgiving for our hundred-plus family and friends. Now, I enjoy sharing similar experiences with my son.
What's your idea of a perfect day?
The perfect day for me would include time spent with my husband and son or other family and experiencing an excellent meal.
When did you start your current job and what were you doing prior to that?
Last August, I became Nutrition Services Manager for Dallas ISD Food and Child Nutrition. Currently, I am responsible for overseeing the registered dietitians that plan the menus, coordinate nutrition education and marketing initiatives, and implement special diets. Additionally, we mentor interns, work closely to coordinate the wellness policy and any other related nutrition services.
Prior to my current position, I was responsible for nutrition education, marketing and childhood obesity prevention initiatives.
Where did you go to school to learn to be a dietitian?
I completed my dietetic internship and Masters of Science degree from Texas Woman's University.
When people find out you're a dietitian, what's the most common thing they ask you?
How they can lose weight.
My hobbies are scrapbooking and baking. Baking is also a means of stress relief… the more the stress, the more elaborate the cake!
What's the toughest/most challenging part of being a dietitian?
The most challenging part of my job is convincing people that change is attainable and often beneficial.
What is an easy meal to put together that's healthy too?
Pasta dishes can be easy, quick and healthy. They are a great way to use whole grain, high fiber pastas and incorporate vegetables and lean meats.
What is a typical work day for you?
There is no typical day for me. However, meetings are a significant part of each day.
I love ethnic foods like Mexican, Italian, Cajun, Asian, and Mediterranean. As a self-proclaimed foodie, it's hard to pick just one.
Family and pets:
I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Jonathan, for six years. We have a wonderful 2-year-old son, Josiah. They are the love of my life. “Jo” has two fish, Fluffy and Spot
Favorite TV show:
Andy Griffith/Matlock and Iron Chef America. I am also a big fan of Deal or No Deal.
What food is your “guilty pleasure?”
Without a question…decadent desserts!
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