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The Catalyst

MUSC Wellness dietitian recognized as 2016 Life Hero

By Susan Johnson, Ph.D.,
director, Office of Health Promotion

Heroes of Everyday Life winner Debbie Petitpain, second from right, is joined by  MUSC Health Promotion director Dr. Susan Johnson, second left, and Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation leadership at the group’s annual dinner.

On June 13, in Bethesda, Maryland, the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation recognized the efforts of five Sodexo employees for their dedication to ending hunger in their local communities.

The Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization established in 1999 by Sodexo, a world leader in quality of life services, that works to ensure that every child in the U.S. grows up with dependable access to enough nutritious food to enable them to lead a healthy, productive life.  

During the 17th annual Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation dinner, this year’s Heroes of Everyday Life were presented $5,000 grants to donate to their hunger-relief charities of choice. “Our heroes selflessly give their time and resources to improve the quality of life of those at risk of hunger in their communities,” said Robert A. Stern, Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation chairman. “It is amazing to behold the creativity and variety of approaches employed by the Heroes to address and impact a complex community problem like hunger.”

Debbie Petitpain, MUSC Wellness Dietitian, was awarded the Heroes of Everyday Life award for her passion, commitment and leadership in the area of food insecurity and meeting the nutritional needs of our community. Her most recent project, “Kids Eat Free at MUSC,” exemplifies the highest level of commitment for this cause and her unstoppable drive to succeed.

In fall of 2014, Petitpain approached me about the USDA summer feeding program she learned about while attending the S.C. State Obesity Summit. She saw a need and an opportunity and wanted to explore the possibility of offering a program at MUSC. We both agreed it would be a challenge given the complexity of the program but were not deterred. When Petitpain began researching examples of similar programs in other health care settings, we soon learned that there were very few. Instead of seeing this as a barrier, she saw it as an opportunity not only to develop a new model for summer feeding programs but have an even greater impact by helping others across the state and nation implement similar programs. To that end, she secured a $10,000 grant with Share Our Strength to develop a toolkit to help guide others thought the process and is seeking other channels to communicate this groundbreaking program to other health care providers.

Throughout the planning and implementation process, Petitpain recruited the right people and resources to ensure success, while also personally attending to every detail of the program, understanding that her ownership of this important work would ultimately lead to a collective impact well beyond MUSC. Through her perseverance and commitment, the first Kids Eat Free at MUSC program served 2,385 meals and will no doubt lead to countless more, as she has opened the door for national replication of this program.  

Petitpain received a $5,000 grant for summer feeding at MUSC which is paying for an intern to assist in the coordination of the 2016 program. For more information about this program, visit

Employee Wellness

  • Step It Up MUSC! Challenge — A new program developed by the MUSC Office of Health Promotion, MUSC Wellness Center and MUSC Health Innovation Center to promote a physically active workplace and culture of health. Teams consist of six to12 colleagues. Designate a team captain and register the team at Teams will compete for the most steps walked/run on a monthly basis for prizes. Steps are averaged to make it more equitable. Visit for information.
  • Worksite Screening: Wednesday,
  • July 27 at Clinical Sciences Building room HE628h. This screening, valued at about $350, is available to employees with the State Health Plan (including MUSC Health Plan) at no charge for the basic test in 2016. Employees and spouses without this insurance can participate for $47. For more information, including updated pricing for optional tests, and to register online visit
  • “Miles to Change” is an MUSC running/walking group to improve employee wellness and support a culture of health. For details on upcoming events, T–shirts and joining the group, email, visit or join the Facebook group, MUSC Miles to Change.
  • Chair massages: Free massages are offered to students and employees Wednesdays. Check Broadcast Messages. for varying locations and times.
  • Farmers Market: Fresh fruits and vegetables are available.
June 27, 2016



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