SNA Announces the Passing of Past President Betty Bender


Betty-BenderThe School Nutrition Association (SNA) sorrowfully announces the passing of past president Elizabeth “Betty” Bender. Bender was president of SNA, then the American School Food Service Association, from 1983 to 1984, representing the state of Ohio and leading the 1984 Annual National Conference in Indianapolis, Ind. Bender passed away on February 15, 2020 at the age of 87.

During her presidency, Bender cited three major focuses—Association finances, the search for an Executive Director and organizing the headquarters office. And she challenged schools to gain the reputation of “best restaurants in town.”

Before Bender became an SNA president, “Focus 5” was established—a long-term plan that emphasized membership services, legislation, nutrition awareness, food program quality and public relations efforts. While Association presidents prior to Bender focused on the national and state levels, Bender was instrumental in inspiring local chapters to ensure continuity and unity of purpose. Bender was also an advocate for training programs.

As Food Service Supervisor at Dayton Public Schools, Bender increased the department’s budget from $1 million to $10 million and improved meal participation to an all-time high. A Kentucky native, Bender attended the University of Kentucky, graduated from the University of Montana and received her master’s from Miami University of Ohio.

In 1985, Bender won the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) Gold Plate Award—the first woman to win the distinction.

Bender is survived by daughter Carroll, son-in-law David, grandson and nephew. The School Nutrition Association keeps the memory of Betty bender in our hearts today and always.

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