In 1996, then Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio) remarked to the House of Representatives, “Mr. Speaker, Dr. Sarah M. Wilder is an individual of extraordinary talent and ability. I take pride in welcoming her to our nation’s capitol as my Congressional Senior Citizen Intern.” (Congressional Record) Before then, she had lit up the nutrition field, leading and advising many nutrition-based organizations, designing nutrition curriculums and running two nutrition consulting businesses.
Wilder earned her undergraduate degree from Tuskegee University and her master’s degree in public health nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. She then completed a doctorate in community systems planning and development/health planning administration from Pennsylvania State University.
She was the recipient of Penn State’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1990, which recognizes graduates of the College of Health and Human Development who have “demonstrated professional excellence and exemplary voluntary community involvement in a health and human development field.”
Additional recognition included the Teacher of the Year Award by the Ohio Association of Two-Year Colleges—she was a professor at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, where she launched a dietetic technology program and served as a mentor to many dietetic students.
Her impact on nutrition education went beyond Ohio. She developed a two-year degree program in community nutrition for Barbados Community College and was a consultant for the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute in Barbados and Trinidad. The World Health Organization (WHO) also enlisted her as a consultant, as did the Cleveland Board of Education, the East Cleveland Board of Education and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Service was second nature to Wilder, who helped organize and charter the Dietetic Technicians in Practice dietary practice group (DPG) and chaired the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition DPG from 1994 to 1996.
She was a founding member and leader of the Academy of Nutrition’s Dietetics’ National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition (NOBIDAN) from 1984 to 2008, and served on its nominating committee from 1998 to 2000. She won the organization’s Medallion Award in 1988 for her leadership and devotion to serving others in nutrition and dietetics, according to the Academy.
She passed away in January 2021, almost one month after her beloved husband of 64 years died. She had three children and many grandchildren. The Dr. Sarah M. Wilder Scholarship Fund honors her legacy and supports future dieticians. Donate to the fund at the Academy’s website.