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Let’s Eat Healthy Nutrition Advocates

Congratulations to the following awardees for their contribution to community health through nutrition.


The Let’s Eat Healthy Educator Recognition Program celebrates California educators who enable, inspire and motivate students to make healthier food choices and develop lifelong healthy eating habits. Dairy Council of California proudly recognizes the efforts of all educators who have made a positive difference in the health of their students within their school communities and beyond. We share their stories to highlight their efforts and inspire others.

2022-2023 Let's Eat Healthy Award Winners:

Organization Awardees



Alhambra Unified School District Food and Nutrition Services

Alhambra Unified School District
Alhambra, California

The award-winning Food and Nutrition Services team at Alhambra Unified School District supports 20 locations in the cities of Alhambra, Monterey Park and San Gabriel, serving meals in innovative ways. In 2019, the team incorporated trendy concepts and introduced a self-serve global food bar featuring pho, tacos, ramen and other themes to meet the needs of a diverse student population. During the pandemic, over 4 million meals were served curbside. Despite supply chain and staffing shortages, the team continued to provide new menu items in 2022 and started serving breakfast in classrooms. Each school day, under the leadership of Executive Director Vivien Watts and Director William Fong, more than 110 school meal professionals serve 8,000 lunches, 4,400 breakfasts and 1,000 suppers. The team takes great strides to interact and communicate with the school community via website, social media, print materials and various events. In 2022, its 18th Annual Food & Wellness Fair drew more than 250 participants. The team’s goal is to continue as a great partner in education. Vivien shared: 

Do not underestimate the power of food. Food is a source of comfort, security, and inclusion. It takes a very special person to work in school foodservice. We not only address hunger, but we provide nourishment to our students’ mental well-being as well.


Headshot_HealthyRCCity of Rancho Cucamonga

Rancho Cucamonga, California

The City of Rancho Cucamonga Healthy RC Youth Leaders Program gives teens an active, meaningful voice and empowers them to represent peers to act and promote a healthier community. In 2021, youth leaders Alondra Arevalo, Isabella Nario and Madhuhaas Gottimukkala developed budget-friendly healthy home recipes, highlighting Indian, Mexican and Filipino cultural foods through videos shared with 200-plus students at Cucamonga Elementary School as a part of a nutrition equity research project. This project stemmed from a community need for increased access to nutrition education and healthy food tutorials for youth, especially among low-income, underserved community members.

Joanna Marrufo, Community Programs Coordinator for the City Manager’s Office, and the Healthy RC Youth Leaders Nutrition Research Group are accepting this award on behalf of the City of Rancho Cucamonga. Reflecting on her role as a youth adviser, Joanna shared:

Growing up with parents who immigrated from Mexico, I experienced firsthand how cultural barriers can impact health and nutrition. This is why I’m passionate about the work being done at Healthy RC, which is reaching people from diverse backgrounds with nutrition education and giving them tools to support themselves and their families to be healthy.


Individual Awardees


Headshot_DrBettyCrockerDr. Betty Crocker, RDN, SNS

Director of Child Nutrition Services
Redlands Unified School District
Redlands, California

Unlike her famous namesake, Dr. Betty Crocker doesn’t write cookbooks; she serves as Director of Child Nutrition Services at Redlands Unified School District in Southern California. She is on a mission to reclaim the food environment in her region with her farming community and to empower every child each school day with healthy meals. Betty is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, registered dietitian with a doctorate from Loma Linda University in policy and leadership and has over 20 years of foodservice experience. Working in child nutrition for the past 8 years, one of her life goals is to ensure children receive healthy meals year-round. Betty and her team pioneered a districtwide after-school meals program, summer meals service and breakfast after the bell. During the first 16 months of the pandemic, the district served over 9 million meals curbside. Efforts to reduce food insecurity garnered her national recognition with No Kid Hungry, National League of Cities and Food Research & Action Center. She serves as the Southern California School Nutrition Association policy chair. Betty believes: 

Lifelong healthy eating habits start in our food system of school nutrition and are paramount to public health. The healthy habits we instill in our students will last a lifetime.


Headshot_CesarSauzaCesar Sauza, RD

Clinical Nutrition Manager
AltaMed Health Services
Los Angeles, California

Registered dietitian Cesar Sauza is Clinical Nutrition Manager at AltaMed Health Services in Los Angeles, California. For many years Cesar worked with the pediatric weight management program providing nutrition interventions to families and contributing to the curriculum development. In this program, families were taught how to introduce a variety of healthier foods to form long-term habits rather than taking a dieting approach. Cesar and his team of dietitians continue to provide nutrition intervention to pediatric patients of all ages with various conditions. All his experience has been in communities with a predominately underserved population. He believes in improving the health of these communities through the power of food. Cesar shared: 

Nutrition education to our youth is crucial in the prevention of preventable future health issues, rather than focusing on restriction and avoidance we should be encouraging whole foods and movement.


Headshot_FausatRahmanDaviesFausat Rahman-Davies

Lead Child Nutrition Agent
Rialto Unified School District
Rialto, California

The Rialto Unified School District’s Child Nutrition Department is led by Mrs. Fausat Rahman-Davies. She has a BS in Business from Cal State San Bernardino and over 25 years of experience in school foodservice. Fausat is on a mission to stop hunger in Rialto. Today, Fausat oversees six child nutrition programs serving 26,000 students in her district of 29 schools.  She has expanded programs providing increased meal access to more children than ever before. Her passion to serve has created a purpose for Rialto beyond the cafeteria leading to progress for her community and other districts nationwide. She shared:


In Africa, where I come from, there is a saying, ‘Unbuntu’, which means: I am because of we. Everything is accomplished with the help of my team, who I consider my village, and it takes a village to raise and feed a child.


Headshot_KateMcDevittKate McDevitt

District Wellness Supervisor
San Diego Unified School District
San Diego, California

Kate McDevitt, San Diego Unified School District’s Wellness Supervisor, launched a wellness initiative in 2016 to support the health and well-being of more than 100,000 students and 10,000 employees. Through the Healthy Schools Program, school wellness coordinators receive monthly training on wellness tools and resources to assess, plan and improve offerings for students, staff and families. The district is a four-time gold-level awardee of the American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index and an America’s Healthiest Schools awardee from Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Kate is a public health leader; in her former role directing school wellness programs at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine she was named Exemplary Employee of the Year for addressing and finding creative solutions to end childhood obesity and hunger in San Diego. A founding member of the San Diego Food System Alliance, Kate now co-chairs the Schools & After-School Domain of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative and serves on the California Local School Wellness Policy Collaborative steering committee. She believes:

Food is a universal right and healthy food should be available to all students. By learning where their food comes from and how to access and cook nutritious food, students develop personal agency in their own health and well-being.


Headshot_PattyCoronaPatty Corona

Director of Kichenista Engagement and Cooking for Salud
Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center
National City, California

Patty is the Director of Kitchenista Engagement and Cooking for Salud® at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City, California. Born in Tijuana, Baja California, Patty obtained her bachelor’s degree in foreign trade and customs at Universidad Iberoamericana del Noroeste in Tijuana. After years serving as an Olivewood Gardens volunteer, she became a Resident Leadership Academy facilitator. The Children’s Home Society of California provided intensive nutrition curriculum training in Spanish, which opened doors to Hispanic National City families and communities. Two years of experience teaching nutrition and cooking to families in their own homes led Patty to deeply impact her National City community. She found her real passion in the combination of teaching nutrition, cooking and leading the now more than 400 Kitchenistas®that have graduated from the Cooking for Salud®program. These women and men have become a driving force, role models and an inspirational movement not just in National City but all around the state, the country and the world. Patty shared:

I’m proud of the work we do through Cooking for Salud at Olivewood Gardens. The program invites families to come together, learn about healthy eating together and has helped transform my community of National City.


Headshot_VanessaAlvarizaresVanessa Alvarizares

Health Education Specialist
Imperial County Public Health Department
Imperial County, California

Vanessa Alvarizares works as Health Education Specialist in the Imperial County Public Health Department's CalFresh Healthy Living Program. From the start of her journey toward a degree in human nutrition and dietetic science, Vanessa knew she wanted to encourage people to use nutrition as a tool for preventing health problems. She educates and encourages community members—parents, educators, professionals and older adults—to make healthy choices using evidence-based curricula such as Dairy Council of California's Activity + Eating for Adults. Vanessa guides adults to improve their quality of life and exhibit healthy habits for their families. Throughout Westmorland, California, she has implemented healthy eating and active living initiatives, including the Nutrition Pantry Program at a local pantry, a garden project at the school district and a stencil project on the preschool playground to increase physical activity. Vanessa is determined to carry on her mission of educating the community about the importance of eating healthier foods, reducing food waste and increasing student participation in the school meal program. She shared:

People of all ages want to know how to live healthier lifestyles. My role is to provide guidance on topics such as food waste reduction, portion control and shopping on a budget. I love being able to help people learn how to take care of themselves through nutrition education.

2021-2022 Let's Eat Healthy Award Winners:

Organization Awardees


Headshot_CalFreshCalFresh Healthy Living, University of California

Davis, California

CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California advances nutrition education in schools and communities. Working with families and individuals who are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, this statewide organization teaches good nutrition, how to make food dollars stretch further and how to be physically active at any age. Through the California Local School Wellness Policy Collaborative, it helps strengthen the implementation of wellness policies in schools across the state. Sustained leadership in the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California empowers school nutrition professionals to activate Smarter Lunchrooms and improve access to healthful foods in school meals. The organization’s collaborative approach to policy, systems and environmental change strategies embodies the Let’s Eat Healthy initiative, improving healthy food access and nutrition education in schools and creating long-lasting community change. MaryAnn Mills, Program Manager at CalFresh Healthy Living believes: 

Every student regardless of income, ethnicity or background should understand where their food comes from and how a well-balanced diet can contribute to their overall health. I also recognize that nutrition education is most impactful when students have access to healthy, safe and affordable food.


Headshot_ImagineU ImagineU Children's Museum

Visalia, California

ImagineU Children’s Museum is a nonprofit hands-on learning center in Visalia, California, that serves the children of the community, seeing approximately 70,000 guests a year. A dairy exhibit at the museum, created in collaboration with California Dairies Inc.California Milk Advisory Board and Dairy Council of California, highlights dairy's important role in healthy eating patterns and sustainable agriculture. It shows how milk and dairy foods are produced, emphasizes safe animal welfare practices and spotlights dairy's recommended consumption for children per the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The standing exhibit, which launched in fall 2021, will be on display for five years. This multi-organization collaboration aims to show the next generation of Californians the importance of dairy foods for health and sustainability, and as part of California's robust agricultural industry. Reflecting on the dairy exhibit, Katy Young, Executive Director at ImagineU shared: 

It's important for me that children know where their food is coming from. A lot of times we just go to the grocery store, show up and think it's just there and that's not the case. And living in the Central Valley we are surrounded by so many diverse products…so it's important that as a museum, we're focusing on that.

Individual Awardees


Headshot_LindaAllenLinda Allen

Reading Specialist and Health and Wellness Coordinator
Sundale Elementary School
Tulare, California

Linda Allen’s 29-year education career began with teaching 5th grade, and nutrition education has always been a vital component. She is currently a Reading Specialist and Health and Wellness Coordinator at Sundale Elementary School, where seven years ago administrators asked her to lead the district’s Nutrition and Wellness Program. Linda established the Sundale School Wellness Committee, which works in partnership with students, staff and the community. She helped the school become the first to pilot the Let’s Eat Healthy nutrition curriculum online pre-and post-assessments. Using nutrition resources, Linda supports teachers, parent groups and afterschool and physical education programs, as well as a school garden and agricultural science program. She facilitates nutrition presentations to parents in the English Learners Migrant Program and collaborated with cafeteria staff and student leaders to make a healthy snack list for parents. Her efforts empower students and parents to adopt healthy eating patterns. She believes:

Good nutrition is important to students' overall well-being. If students have well balanced healthy snacks and meals, their performance is better all day, they feel good, and are more engaged in their learning.


Headshot_HeatherCruzHeather Cruz

Physical Education, Health and Wellness Coordinator
Chula Vista Elementary School District
Chula Vista, California

Heather Cruz has worked in Chula Vista Elementary School District as the Physical Education, Health and Wellness Coordinator for the past six years. In this role, she leads the district’s wellness committee. With the support of this committee, she has implemented programs that improve access, resources and support for the well-being of students, staff and the community. She developed a Site Wellness Leads program where each school site is represented and meets quarterly to set site-specific wellness goals and receive training and resources. Heather also initiated community partnerships to develop a resource list for wellness leads to implement activities and programs at their schools. She recently received the San Diego County Office of Education’s comprehensive health education grant to write lessons for teachers, featuring some Let’s Eat Healthy resources. Her passion for impacting well-being on a larger scale has led her to focus efforts on both students and employees. The Employee Well-Being Program empowers employees with health awareness and lifestyle skills that enhance quality of life for all district personnel. She believes: 

By teaching students how to make healthy food choices, I believe we are not only impacting their health but also their academic success. We know that students who make healthy food choices come to school more alert and prepared to learn. This impact is extremely empowering for students to know that they have control over that.


Headshot_NiaomiHrepichNiaomi Hrepich, RD

WIC and CalFresh Healthy Living Program Director
Monterey County Public Health Department
Monterey, California

Niaomi Hrepich, WIC and CalFresh Healthy Living Program Director in Monterey County, encourages her community to be healthy by improving diet quality and being active daily. Her strength is convening and promoting consistent evidence-based nutrition and wellness messaging across the county. She works collaboratively to provide consistent nutrition and physical activity messages and identify gaps in services. Through her efforts, the Let’s Eat Healthy nutrition curriculum reaches students in over 15 elementary schools in the county. She also provides nutrition education in eligible farmer’s markets, promoting CalFresh and Market Match programs. Niaomi hosts the Nutrition and Fitness Collaborative of the Central Coast, a coalition with over 40 member agencies, working collectively to promote and advocate for policies and environmental changes that foster healthy lifestyle behaviors with an emphasis on nutrition and physical activity to prevent obesity and related chronic diseases, especially for low-income families. She shared: 

I believe in working together to provide consistent nutrition messages to all residents in Monterey County, helping to create healthier lifestyles and communities.


Headshot_DawnSotoDawn Soto

Senior Food Service Training Specialist
Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles, California

Dawn Soto is a Senior Food Service Training Specialist with the Los Angeles Unified School District Food Services Division. She develops and oversees training curriculum for over 3,500 district employees, students and parents on all subjects pertaining to school food programs, operations, nutrition education and professional development that align with professional standards requirements. Her services extend to technical assistance on education materials for 685 cafeterias, Smarter Lunchrooms Movement grants and “Choose What You Want, Eat What You Choose” nutritional student assemblies. These no-cost services are a welcome resource for schools with limited funds allotted for educational student assemblies. Dawn has collaborated with Let's Eat Healthy in numerous ways, including the creation of a unit on nutrition for staff development and themed nutrition messaging and activities for a monthly wellness newsletter to foodservice staff. She believes: 

Healthy eating is really important. I encourage you to think outside the box and step outside the classroom. Reach out to your school foodservice professionals and partner with them. We have an immense opportunity to reach every single child that steps through the cafeteria doors.

2019-2020 Let's Eat Healthy Award Winners:


Michelle Mead

Kindergarten Teacher
Coeur d'Alene Avenue School
Venice, CA

A kindergarten teacher at Coeur d'Alene Avenue School in Venice, Calif., Michelle has incorporated nutrition education into her classroom curriculum since she began teaching three years ago. Learn more about Michelle why she teaches nutrition in her classroom and why she hopes to inspire others to do the same. She believes: 

Teaching nutrition to my young students creates a foundation for healthy eating habits and enables them to make healthier food choices when they are able and ready to make those decisions independently.

Why I Teach Nutrition Education with Michelle Mead

She believes that teaching nutrition to her students creates a foundation for healthy eating habits.

Learn more

Sheryl Miller

Kindergarten Teacher
Blanche Reynolds Elementary School
Ventura, CA

A kindergarten teacher at Blanche Reynolds Elementary School in Ventura, Calif., Sheryll has taught for over 24 years. She teaches nutrition education in her classroom because she believes it is vital for the success of her students. Learn more about Sheryl why she teaches nutrition in her classroom and why she hopes to inspire others to do the same. She shared: 

I teach Harvest of the Month and use Dairy Council of California’s nutrition curriculum, which complements those lessons so well. My students enjoy learning about different foods and how to eat healthfully, a vital life skill that will help them grow to their full potential.

Why I Teach Nutrition Education with Sheryl Miller

Sheryl teaches nutrition education because she believes it is vital for the success of her students.

Learn more

Michaela Nealy

1st Grade Teacher
Roosevelt Elementary
Stockton, CA

A first grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School in Stockton, Calif., Michaela has taught nutrition education to her students since she began teaching two years ago. Learn more about Michaela why she teaches nutrition in her classroom and why she hopes to inspire others to do the same. An educator at a Title I, culturally diverse school, she believes: 

The health of students matter because when kids come to school hungry and worried about when they will get their next meal, they are unable to pay attention in the classroom or learn. Nutrition education, when paired with food access, provide children with the security and knowledge needed to support them for academic and lifelong success.

Why I Teach Nutrition Education with Michaela Nealy

Michaela teaches nutrition because she is passionate about the health + well-being of her students.

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Chris Tamez

Physical Education Teacher
Peter J. Shields Elementary
Rancho Cordova, CA

A physical education teacher at Peter J Shields Elementary School in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Chris has taught for five years and incorporated nutrition education as part of the physical education curriculum for the past two years. Learn more about Chris why he teaches nutrition in his classroom and why he hopes to inspire others to do the same. A strong advocate for healthy students, he believes: 

Nutrition education is critical to student health. By teaching nutrition education as part of physical education, my students learn how to build the foundation for good health, which requires a healthy, nutritious diet as well as adequate amounts of physical activity.

Why I Teach Nutrition Education with Chris Tamez

Chris believes that nutrition education is critical to student health.

Learn more

2020-2021 Let's Eat Healthy Award Winners:


LEHAward_JamieBrownJaime Brown

TSA Physical Education, Health and Nutrition Teacher
Madera Unified School District
Madera, CA

Jaime Brown is a teacher on special assignment in Madera, California. As a teacher in the Central Valley for almost 15 years, Jaime 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. Jaime teaches nutrition education as part of the physical education curriculum because she believes it is an essential life skill all students should have. She is proud to support school gardens like the one at Maddison Elementary because teaching students ag literacy helps them make the connection between how food is grown and the food they see in the school cafeteria. She shared:

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.

Why I Teach Nutrition Education with Jaime Brown

Jamie believes nutrition and physical education are critical to supporting overall health.

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LEHAward_ScottBrownScott Brown

Physical Education Teacher
Gaston Middle School
Fresno, CA

Scott Brown is 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 uses Nearpod, an educational platform, to creatively integrate nutrition curriculum as part of physical education to provide his students with a hands-on, interactive experience. Through this process, he was able to identify which of his students lacked the proper access to food. This inspired him to partner with the school district’s food services department and a local church to create a food assistance program. Scott believes all educators should expand classroom instruction to include health and nutrition. He believes it is absolutely vital to preparing students to live healthier, better lives. Not only should educators teach nutrition education, they should make sure students are able to grasp it, learn it and apply it in their lives. He shared:

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 on health, and I want my students to have the knowledge they need to live successful lives.

Why I Teach Nutrition Education with Scott Brown

Scott believes all educators should expand classroom instruction to include health and nutrition.

Learn more


LEHAward_ChristianManaloChristian Manalo

Middle and High School Physical Education Teacher
Legacy Magnet Academy
Tustin, CA

Christian Manalo is 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. By utilizing technology to inspire student learning and instill passion for a healthy lifestyle, Christian was able to inspire students to create a platform to empower healthier eating habits for fellow students, families and the entire school community. Teaching nutrition as a component of physical education, Christian is able to build strong relationships with his students. He believes: 

Physical education and nutrition are the building blocks to overall health and wellness. Nutrition greatly contributes to overall health, and by teaching it to students earlier in life, they are better equipped to develop healthy habits that will support lifelong health.

Why I Teach Nutrition Education with Christian Manalo

Christian teaches nutrition education because he believes it is a vital component of overall health.

Learn more


LEHAward_PamelaStephensonPamela Stephenson

2nd Grade Teacher
Cram Elementary School
Highland, CA

Pamela Stephenson is 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. She loves teaching nutrition because she believes it is an essential life skill that empowers students. She is a strong advocate for Dairy Council of California’s nutrition resources because they are free, science-based and integrate common core standards, social-emotional learning. This makes it easy to teach while also meeting the needs of her students. She believes: 

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.

Why I Teach Nutrition Education with Pamela Stephenson

Pamela loves teaching nutrition because she believes it is an essential life skill.

Learn more

These four outstanding educators are recognized for their passion and their efforts in elevating the health of their students and school community by incorporating nutrition education in their curriculum. We appreciate their great work and ongoing commitment to student health!

Visit our YouTube channel at HealthyEatingCA.

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

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Interested in Teaching Resources?

Nutrition education resources for any grade designed by teachers and registered dietitians.