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Let’s Eat Healthy Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week


  • Tuesday, May 4, 2021
  • 4 Minute Read   

LEH Award Winners 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – May 4, 2021 – Dairy Council of California, a nutrition education organization committed to elevating the health of children and families, is celebrating National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 3-7, by honoring four outstanding California educators with the Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award.

Now in its second year, the award is part of the Let’s Eat Healthy Educator Recognition Program, which identifies, engages and celebrates California educators committed to improving the health of their students and school community through nutrition education. The Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award recognizes and honors outstanding educators who embody the spirit of the program, specifically educators who go above and beyond as advocates for student health, teaching nutrition education in the classroom and dedicating their time to supporting healthier students. 

“Many educators have worked around the clock during the COVID-19 pandemic to support students, families and the entire school community,” said Tracy Mendez, registered dietitian nutritionist and program director of nutrition education at Dairy Council of California. “During National Teacher Appreciation Week, it is more important than ever to acknowledge all of the amazing educators working to provide students with education and enrichment, whether that be in-person, remotely or a combination of the two. We are proud to celebrate and recognize a few who have successfully integrated nutrition education into their school day, especially during these challenging times, with the Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award.”

This year’s Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award recipients were selected because of their innovation, passion and dedication to educating, inspiring and empowering their students to excel academically through traditional and non-traditional instruction, physically through nutrition education and health, and socially through relationship and skill building. Recipients intentionally integrated nutrition education into their curriculum using complementary subjects to support student health and well-being. Congratulations to this year’s Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award recipients: 

  • Jaime Brown, a teacher on special assignment in Madera, California. As a teacher in the Central Valley for almost 15 years, Jamie has led nutrition and physical education efforts integrated with professional development to support districtwide health interventions with demonstrated success in her district, including a notable decrease in overweight/obesity rates and an increase in healthy behaviors among students. She believes, “Nutrition education is applicable to all students and their everyday lives, providing a strong platform for project-based learning. Food is needed for survival. It brings people together and is something all students and their families can relate to.”
  • Scott Brown, a physical education teacher in Fresno, California. Scott transformed traditional lessons into a digital education platform to ensure nutrition remained part of the physical education curriculum. Leaning on technology and the trust he builds with his students, he improves their lives. Using nutrition education as a tool, he not only teaches healthy eating habits but also identifies and connects students to resources to ensure they have access to the healthful foods he teaches about in his classroom. He shares, “I teach nutrition education in my classroom to prepare my students and enable them to lead healthy, balanced and happy lives. I know the important role nutrition plays in health, and I want my students to have the knowledge they need to live healthy, successful lives.”
  • Christian Manalo, a physical education teacher in Tustin, California. Christian incorporates nutrition education into his curriculum because he believes it is a vital component of overall health. To support healthier students, he collaborated with his physical education team to develop a student-led nutrition podcast to inspire healthier eating habits peer-to-peer and beyond to families and the entire school community. He believes that physical education and nutrition are the building blocks to overall health and wellness. He shares, “Nutrition greatly contributes to overall health. By teaching nutrition education to students earlier in life, they are better equipped to develop healthy habits that will support their health into adulthood.” 
  • Pamela Stephenson, a second grade teacher in Highland, California. For the last 25 years, Pamela has taught nutrition as part of her classroom curriculum, incorporating hands-on activities like soup making and food tasting into her lessons to bring to life the importance and applicability of nutrition. This allows her students to experience and describe foods using their senses, build self-awareness and social-emotional intelligence, and create positive community experiences. As a long-time educator, she believes that “nutrition education builds a strong foundation for student health, helping students make the connection between the food they eat and their health. By teaching students why nutrition is important and how to make healthier food choices earlier in life, they are able to use this knowledge to help them for the rest of their lives.” 

“Educators are key influencers in the lives of their students,” says Mendez. “By teaching nutrition education in the classroom, students are able to learn the important role foods play in their lives and how to make healthier food choices. Nutrition education teaches valuable life skills and enables students to build a strong foundation for good health that will last a lifetime.”

Dairy Council of California provides free, science-based nutrition education resources to teach healthy eating and empower healthier students and families. The Let’s Eat Healthy Educator Recognition Program is part of Let’s Eat Healthy™, a movement launched by Dairy Council of California to empower healthier communities. Funded by California dairy farmers and processors as a philanthropic contribution to elevate the health of children and communities throughout the state, Dairy Council of California is under the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The organization has proudly elevated the health of children and families through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits for over a 100 years.

Learn more about this year’s Let’s Eat Healthy leaders, the recognition program and how to access free nutrition programs and resources by visiting HealthyEating.org/NutritionAdvocacy.   


About Dairy Council of California
For over a century, Dairy Council of California has empowered stakeholders, including educators, health professionals and community leaders, to elevate the health of children and families through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits. Funded by California’s dairy farm families and local milk processors and under the guidance of California Department of Food and Agriculture, Dairy Council of California’s free science-based nutrition education resources, Mobile Dairy Classroom assemblies, training programs and online resources educate millions of students and families in California and throughout the United States. Learn more at HealthyEating.org.