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Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Awards

Celebrating California leaders making a positive difference in communities through nutrition.



Let's Eat Healthy Leadership Award

LetsEatHealthy_Vert Logo Color

The Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award celebrates California champions who educate, inspire and empower children, families and communities to develop lifelong healthy eating patterns. The award program recognizes individuals, youth leaders, and organizations that improve nutrition education and access to nutritious foods to make a positive difference in the health of their communities and beyond. 

Champions are activating Let’s Eat Healthy and united efforts support the achievement of initiative goals: 

Interested in submitting a nomination for the 2024–2025 Let's Eat Healthy Leadership Award? Check back in July 2024 when the submission period opens.

Meet This Year's Let’s Eat Healthy Awardees

Watch here

2023–2024 Leadership & Legacy Awards

We are pleased to announce the Let's Eat Healthy Leadership and Legacy Award recipients.



Nadine Braunstein PhD, RD, FAND 

Associate Professor & Dietetic Internship Director
California State University, Sacramento
Sacramento, CA 

Dr. Nadine Braunstein is Associate Professor and Dietetic Internship Director at California State University, Sacramento. As a thought leader and nutrition advocate focused on strengthening policies and guidelines, her influence spans across local, state and national levels. Dr. Braunstein supported the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and has served in multiple leadership positions through the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nadine received the 2023 Award for Excellence in Education from the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her passion to educate others reaches far and wide by engaging in podiums that reach public health, school and community professionals and leaders. Nadine shared: 

I am proud to participate in the Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative, and support its framework to reduce food insecurity in children, promote culturally-informed and science-based nutrition education, and collaborate with stakeholders who are committed to promoting nutrient-dense diets for children and their families.




Elk Grove Unified School District Food and Nutrition Services

Elk Grove Unified School District
Elk Grove, CA 

Elk Grove Unified School District in Sacramento County is the fifth largest school district in California. Its Food and Nutrition Services supports 63,000 students across 66 schools, and advances the district’s wellness policy. A cornerstone of the district’s success for empowering healthier students is through its school meal transformations and nutrition and farm to school initiatives. This includes strengthening collaborations with local farmers, growers, and procurement partners, alongside enriching agricultural literacy programs. Additionally, it provides annual professional development for hundreds of staff and educators, and science-based nutrition education curriculum and resources. Nutrition Assistant, Christine Clark shared: 

I love that our department puts an emphasis on nutrition education. I am fortunate to be part of a nutrition education team where I get to interact with and teach students about healthy foods and making healthy food choices in a fun, interactive and memorable way.




Kirsten Criswell 

Santa Barbara County School Wellness Council  
Santa Barbara, CA 

Kirsten Criswell is the Coordinator for the Santa Barbara County School Wellness Council and the annual School Wellness Summit. Her expertise in local school wellness policy and school nutrition programs led to her success in implementing initiatives and partnerships across Santa Barbara County for over 12 years. Her leadership in coordinating the annual School Wellness Summit unites school wellness leaders and offers a platform to share best practices and resources in transforming schools to centers of health and wellness. Kirsten shared: 

Prioritizing wellness shapes school climate. It’s a commitment by schools and partner agencies to support local school wellness policies, programs, and employee well-being to strengthen the culture of health and wellness in our school communities. Health and wellness must be part of conversations about achievement.



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Devinder Kumar 

Senior Director of Student Health & Wellness
Wonderful College Prep Academy
Delano, CA 

Devinder Kumar is Senior Director of Student Health & Wellness at Wonderful College Prep Academy K-12 Charter School. As a leader passionate about food, health and community, he is committed to the well-being of over 1,900 students and their families. One of the cornerstones of Devinder’s work is enhancing access to evidence-based nutrition education and agricultural literacy in and out of the classroom. He strongly believes educating on the importance of local food systems is crucial in helping individuals foster a sense of appreciation for the nutritious foods of local farmers. Devinder’s efforts extend beyond the lunchroom, offering professional development for staff and teachers to ensure that nutrition is integrated into the school culture. As a California Department of Education, Team Nutrition Ambassador, he played a pivotal role mentoring peers on scratch cooking and standardized recipe development. Devinder shared: 

Come for the academics and stay for the food.




Vanessa Mendez 

School Counselor
Edison Elementary School
San Diego Unified School District 
San Diego, CA 

Vanessa Mendez is a School Counselor with over 19 years of experience. She leads school wellness initiatives as Edison Elementary wellness coordinator that earned America’s Healthiest School recognitions from Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Vanessa leads the annual assessment of her school’s implementation of the district wellness policy and develops action plans to advance strategies to support health and wellness, including mentoring student wellness ambassadors. Her collaboration with school and district leaders and community partners led to the launch of a new school food pantry that includes a school milk recovery pilot program. Vanessa shared: 

I love my job and have a passion for supporting the whole child for lifelong success. I believe early intervention supports for health and emotional wellness are imperative to leading to children’s overall well-being.




University of California, Irvine 

School of Medicine
Early Life Nutrition Research Team 
Irvine, CA

The Early Life Nutrition Research Team at University of California, Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine includes two faculty from the Department of Pediatrics and an incoming third-year medical student. The team aims to address childhood obesity and reduce disparities across social determinants of health to improve access to healthy foods and overall nutrition by optimizing nutrition education resources and messages for medical professionals, medical students, child care providers and the public. Collaboration between the research team and Dairy Council of California led to receiving a grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials to develop culturally relevant resources for Black and Latino families. Additionally, the team is passionate in sharing maternal and early childhood nutrition research studies and outcomes with professionals through podiums, scholarly journals and publications.   

Early Life Nutrition Research Team:  


Dr. Candice Taylor Lucas shared: 

I am proud to participate in the Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative, and support its framework to reduce food insecurity in children, promote culturally-informed and science-based nutrition education, and collaborate with stakeholders who are committed to promoting nutrient-dense diets for children and their families.



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Patrick Kelly 

Key Account Manager School & Food Service
Shehadey Family Foods, LLC
Fresno, CA 

Patrick Kelly has devoted an impressive 21 years to the California dairy community, with a career marked by progression, leadership and a deep commitment to child nutrition. His influence within child nutrition is underscored by his years serving on local and state California School Nutrition Association (CSNA).  Patrick champions science-based nutrition education resources and messaging in the school community, ensuring the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy foods are valued in the education of students, families and school staff.  

In 2022, he initiated a change in his company's flavored milk formulation, resulting in reduced added sugars and sodium. He worked with students, child nutrition directors and school boards to ensure acceptance of the new formulation. Patrick’s advocates for child nutrition by educating legislators on the importance of universal meals and the nutritional contributions of milk and dairy foods in healthy eating patterns. Patrick shared: 

Knowing that we are making a difference in kids’ lives, that otherwise might not eat that day, that’s huge. Making a difference in kids' lives is why I do what I do.


Let’s Eat Healthy Legacy Award Recipient


Robert Schram Frame

Robert Schram 

Former School Food Service Director
Lifetime Member of California School Nutrition Association
Fresno, CA

Robert Schram, known as a dedicated child nutrition advocate of 27 years and school foodservice director, Robert passed away in 2023. The Let’s Eat Healthy Legacy Award pays tribute to Robert’s exemplary contributions as a California school nutrition leader and commitment to fostering sustainable nutrition and enhancing access to science-based nutrition education.  

In addition, he was a cherished mentor and leader in the California School Nutrition Association. 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.


Learn more about previous winners by clicking here.

Visit our YouTube channel at HealthyEatingCA.

Tune into the complete Let's Eat Healthy Leadership Award playlist on our YouTube channel at HealthyEating.


Join the Let's Eat Healthy Initiative!

Show your commitment for ensuring children and communities are supported to grow healthfully.