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Advisory Council for School Nutrition - Member Profiles
ACSN Members: gather input and feedback from their region on key issues to inform discussion at council meetings; share School Nutrition Unit materials and talking points with their region to promote accurate, informed and consistent messaging; promote relationship building and enhance collaboration between SFAs by sharing best practices and resources.
David is the Director of Nutrition Services at Westminster Public Schools in Westminster, CO. The district is comprised of 20 schools with 10,000 students and a free and reduced price eligibility of 80 percent. David immediately focused on cost controls and increasing participation through student engagement, which has led to a healthy bottom line for the food service program.These revenues replace aging equipment, develop associates, build smarter lunchrooms and enhance the food service program.
Shelly has 25 years of experience in Child Nutrition Programs.She is the Director of Nutrition and Warehouse Services for the St. Vrain Valley School District. Previously, she worked for Denver Public Schools. Shelly has a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and a master’s degree in Human Resources and Organizational Management. Shelly is the President of the Colorado School Nutrition Association (CSNA), and she is very supportive of local farm to school efforts.
Susan is currently the Director of Nutrition Services for Weld RE-4 School District. Weld RE-4's mission is to support student achievement by promoting nutrition through education and healthy menu choices, maintaining safe food and safe food environments for customers and staff and to ensure financial self-sufficiency and accountability for the department.
Alice started in school food service as a substitute in the kitchen. She advanced to a full-time position after one person retired, and then assumed the Kitchen Manager position one year later when the kitchen manager retired. Alice is from Fowler School District in southeastern Colorado, with a pupil membership of 400. Alice is new to food service, but food service is part of her family; her sister is a kitchen manager in Maine! Alice looks forward to learning and growing in the position of the ACSN member. She is married, and has five children and 15 grandchildren!
Sarah DeCristino is the Food Service Director for Hoehne School District, located about 20 miles northeast of Trinidad. Hoehne is a K-12 school district of approximately 350 students. Sarah started out in food service as a substitute in the kitchen, advancing to full time cook; in December 2015, Sarah was promoted to the position of Food Service Director. Sarah has always loved cooking and serving people and has gained many years of experience, including the director and assistant director at an early childhood development center, working with the free and reduced price meal program. With extensive experience and knowledge in accounting and business management, Sarah has been a driving force in developing the Hoehne school meal program. With the support of the superintendent and Hoehne School Board, Sarah’s passion and love for nutrition education, healthy choices and cooking from scratch, have led to the successful creation of an at-home cafeteria environment. Sarah is married with six children, ages 18, 16, 14, 12, 11 and, oops, a 2-year-old. Her family enjoys their ranch with cattle, horses, donkeys, chickens and pigs, and spending time camping. Sarah runs the hospitality team at her church and is involved with other local charities. Sarah is enthusiastic to have the opportunity to be part of the ACSN, representing Region 8; she hopes to help make an impact on all children and their happy healthy eating.
Erika is the Director of Food and Nutrition Services in Cherry Creek Schools in Centennial, CO. The district has about 55,000 students with 60 schools and a free and reduced price percentage of about 28 percent. She has a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from Colorado State University and a master’s of Public Health degree from the Colorado School of Public Health. After dabbling in clinical dietetics, teaching and health communications, Erika feels lucky to have found school nutrition – a perfect combination of the fields she enjoys most. Erika is actively involved in the Colorado School Nutrition Association (CSNA) and is the current CSNA Vice President.
Kelly Grable Chrisman is the Director of Partnerships and School Relations with CharterChoice Collaborative (SFA). CharterChoice currently partners with 16 charter schools serving over 7,000 students. Kelly’s role is to help support prospective and participating charter schools with their healthy meal programs. Aspects of this role include identifying resources for participating charter schools and the CharterChoice organization to support ongoing efforts in offering healthy meals to students and participation in federal and state reimbursable meal programs. Prior to joining CharterChoice, Kelly spent over ten years with the Colorado League of Charter Schools working with charter schools and supporting the organization’s efforts in performance management and member services.
Jody has grown up and worked in the food service industry her entire life. While in high school and college, Jody worked for a food service management company that grew into a multi-million dollar company that was bought by Sodexo. Jody joined the nutrition department over 10 years ago, as the kitchen manager at Grand Valley High School; she assumed the director responsibilities five years ago. In the two-year span since Jody started as the director, the student count has gone from over 1300 students in five schools, to approximately 1100 in four schools. Her district has become expert in working with the boom and bust economies of their area; she can understand when districts are going through a boom and when they are cutting positions due to loss of students. One of the greatest rewards in her position is working with the students in her district. She appreciates the changes in meal patterns over the past few years, and has enjoyed working with many different partners to meet those challenges, and the different approach to nutrition for students. Her district is an expeditionary learning district and affords many opportunities to incorporate nutrition and learning into the projects that students work on for a semester (like school gardens). Jody encourages all directors to look outside the box and see what opportunities exist to support the hard work of the different departments in their district. These positive relationships with staff and students help to build support for the changes and challenges faced in school nutrition. Jody is a Colorado native, born and raised. As she and her husband built their lives and family, they moved down the valley to Battlement Mesa, where they have lived for over 15 years and have raised three daughters.
Steffiney is very excited to be a part of the Advisory Council for School Nutrition. Steffiney is dedicated to serving on the ACSN because she is from a small district on the eastern plains and she thinks small districts are sometimes overlooked. She has been the Food Service Director at Byers for the last 12 years. She does not have any formal education; however, Steffiney brings 26 years of food service/restaurant management to her district. When she took the food service program over in 2000, the district was supplementing the program approximately $13,000 a year; within two years, they were running in the black and continue to do so. Her greatest accomplishments have been improvements in their breakfast program and scratch cooking, which they have always done. Their district is approximately 465 students K-12, and they feed about 165 breakfasts and 325 lunches every day. Their free and reduced price eligibility is 50 percent.
Walter is the Food Service Director for Ellicott School District #22, and has gone through many changes in the 30 years he has been with the district. Walter joined the district in August 1985, driving a school bus full-time and working in the school kitchen. In 1994, he became the Food Service Director, with six full-time and four part-time staff. The full-time staff has been with the school district between four and 17 years. Walter receives great support from all areas of the district, including the board of education, superintendent, administration, teachers, students and a great food service staff. Walter has lived all of his life in Ellicott and attended all 12 years of school there. It is a great place to be and Walter believes he has some of the best students. Walter has three schools in the district, and there are 1,051 students currently enrolled, with a free and reduced price eligibility of 69 percent.
Traci Berg is the Food Service Manager for Haxtun, Holyoke, Fleming and Merino school districts. She joined ACSN in 2018. Traci comes to Colorado from Rugby, North Dakota. She spends her time away from work on camping trips with her family. The best part about her job is working with the kids.
Danielle is the Nutrition Services Director for Greely-Evans Weld County 6 and is one of the newest ACSN members. Danielle sees the "opportunity to create real change in the lives of employees and students" by working to promote and educate nutritious foods and child nutrition programs. Danielle is a Denver native although Seattle is her favorite city. Her favorite get away spot is Glenwood Springs where she often loves to hike and bike.
Deb Yirku has worked in food service for 22 years, starting as a volunteer dishwasher at Evans Elementary in Falcon District 49. Deb has spent the last 21 years at the Calhan School District working as a dishwasher, baker, head cook and manager, and director. Calhan is a PK-12 school, has a 46 percent free and reduced rate and an enrollment of 458 students.
Since taking over as the director, Deb has started Breakfast after the Bell, Breakfast in the Classroom and Universal Free Breakfast Programs. Calhan School District was recognized by Hunger Free Colorado as a “Breakfast Champion School.” Additionally, snacks are provided to afternoon preschool, an afterschool tutoring program. Calhan has teamed up with LiveWell Colorado and has improved techniques, kitchen layout and meals. Meals are over 80 percent scratch cooking and sodium levels are at the 2017-18 levels. All of the menus have been recommended by Calhan students. It is all about the students, and Deb thinks that Calhan has the best!