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Celebrating the 2024 Let's Eat Healthy Leadership Awardees

By: Shannan Young, RDN, SNS

  • Thursday, April 4, 2024
  • 5 Minute Read   


Now in its fifth year, the Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award, sponsored by Dairy Council of California, honors California nutrition champions that educate, inspire and empower children, families and communities to develop lifelong healthy eating patterns. The award recognition program is a flagship of the Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative that engages champions like school nutrition professionals to improve equitable access of nutritious foods and nutrition education to make a positive difference in the health of children and California communities. 

Schools are an integral part of childhood, and through the role of school nutrition, foodservice professionals ensure students are supported to achieve optimal growth and development and reach their full potential. Dairy Council of California is proud to acknowledge one outstanding school district and two school nutrition leaders, as well as present its first-ever legacy award.  

“The Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative exemplifies the essential collaboration required to bolster the health of children, families and communities. This year's leadership award winners are champions making a profound impact by enhancing nutrition education, promoting access to nutritious foods and engaging in farm-to-school initiatives that educate on the vital contributions the California dairy community provides in supplying nutritious, local and sustainable foods.”

– Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture 

Elk Grove Unified School District’s Food and Nutrition Services Department  

For more than 30 years, the Elk Grove Unified School District has placed a premium on students’ health and wellness. This commitment is exemplified through its comprehensive nutrition approach, spearheaded by the Food and Nutrition Services Department. Led by Director Michelle Drake, the department ensures that students not only receive nourishing meals but also embark on a flavorful journey of learning. 

Robust nutrition programming turns education into a hands-on, fun and unforgettable experience. Thanks to partnerships with organizations like Dairy Council of California, teachers have access to top-tier nutrition education curriculum, making the learning process informative and engaging. 

The food and nutrition team is on a quest to make every meal an opportunity for students to savor nutrient-rich dishes. From dairy to whole grains and local fresh fruits and vegetables, the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program are avenues to reach students. The team collaborates with nearby farms, food hubs and procurement partners to reinforce the vital farm-to-fork link. 

With the goal of nourishing students and instilling the importance of healthy eating patterns as building blocks to last a lifetime, Elk Grove Unified School District’s Food and Nutrition Services Department fuels not just bodies but the potential within each student to achieve greatness every single day, one delicious bite at a time. 

Devinder Kumar, Director of Student Health and Wellness, Wonderful College Prep Academy 

Devinder Kumar is a multifaceted nutrition leader who is passionate about food, health and community. Born and raised in northern India, Devinder began as a pharmacist; however, he soon realized that food held the potential to nourish both body and soul just as effectively as prescriptions. With this epiphany, he traded in his lab coat for a chef's coat and joined a family-owned restaurant. Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, Devinder successfully established three restaurants before taking on the role of executive chef for Stanford University Dining.  

In 2020, Devinder joined the food services program at Wonderful College Prep Academy, a free public charter school serving TK-12 in the Central Valley. Devinder believes “a great education begins with a nurturing, engaging, community-centered school environment, built on top of a strong and well-rounded academic foundation.” He is known for his commitment to quality and innovation through wellness and nutrition-centric meals and academic programs.  

During the pandemic, Devinder also founded FreeMealsOnWheels.com, a nonprofit initiative to bring food equity to the growing homeless population in San Jose, Oakland, Richmond and other cities, with the help of more than 400 volunteers. Providing free hot meals to those in need exemplifies his dedication to serving the community.  

His unique blend of knowledge in food and medicine allows Devinder to create enticing and nutritionally balanced dishes, considering how food functions in both the kitchen and the body. Vibrant and delicious menus reflect this intentional approach. Devinder loves to say, “Come for the academics and stay for the food.” 

Patrick Kelly, Key Account Manager School & Food Service, Shehadey Enterprise Solutions 

Patrick Kelly is dedicated to student health and wellness through his professional and volunteer work. As a member of CSNA and former industry representative, he gets involved in the whole process of ensuring students receive the nutrition they need through school meals, from the legislative side of the business to food procurement. He is truly a one-of-a-kind person and business partner who promotes nutrition education, engages communities, sources locally and collaborates with school foodservice partners to help ensure that students across California get the nutritious school meals, including dairy, they need to grow and thrive. 

When holding health fairs for school sites Patrick comes with his A game. He is excited when talking to kids and families about the health benefits of eating a balanced diet. Patrick’s drive and passion for school nutrition is unparalleled. He never wants students to go without their choice of milk, knowing that school meals might be some students’ only options for a meal that day. 

Patrick also champions sustainability, setting up tours of local dairy farms and collaborating with key stakeholders to ensure a steady supply of affordable and high-quality nutritious dairy foods to schools and communities. 

Robert Schram, Let’s Eat Healthy Legacy Award Recipient 

Robert Schram, known as a dedicated school foodservice director, passed away in 2023. The Let’s Eat Healthy Legacy Award pays tribute to Robert’s exemplary contributions as a California nutrition leader who passionately empowered children, families and communities to cultivate healthy eating habits.  

Robert has left an indelible mark by fostering sustainable nutrition, enhancing access to science-based nutrition education and ensuring access to wholesome foods. In addition, he was a cherished mentor and leader in CSNA and a dear friend to everyone whose life he touched. His guidance and warmth will forever resonate with those fortunate enough to have known him. 

With deep reverence, the legacy award honors and acknowledges Robert’s enduring legacy in advancing the mission of the Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative through his dedicated work in the field of child nutrition and school foodservice. 


Congratulations to all 2023–2024 Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award winners. All of these winners are working to provide much more than meals. They prepare students for success through health and wellness to last a lifetime. 

All school nutrition professionals are invited to engage in the Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative to advance nutrition security and education in local communities. Working together through the school environment can provide students with learning experiences that reinforce positive, healthy eating choices to establish lifelong habits. Learn more about no-cost educational resources and tools for school nutrition professionals and join the Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative at HealthyEating.org/Join

Do you know nutrition champions who are making a positive impact in their communities? You can share their story. Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award nominations will be accepted starting August 2024 at HealthyEating.org/Award. Nominate a local champion and help to inspire others! 


Shannan Young, RDN, SNS

Shannan Young, RDN, SNS

Shannan is the Partnerships and Programs Program Officer with over 20 years of experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist.