Man of the People

Get to Know Chris Derico, SNA President 2023–24

As with many in this profession, SNA President Chris Derico, SNS, never expected to find a career in school nutrition, but it seems subtle influences were always pointing him in that direction. He grew up with deep-rooted feelings about the values of education, thanks in large part to his father, a first-generation college graduate who spent his career—and his “retirement”—working in education. He also had early exposure to the importance of school meals in nourishing students’ bodies and minds, thanks to his maternal grandmother, a cafeteria cook at local elementary and junior high schools.

In the early chapters of his own career, Derico taught math and served as an athletic director at the middle school level. He also had a side hustle as a basketball referee, a role he’d first taken on in his freshman year of college, and one he credits with instilling valued leadership skills. These skills eventually led Derico to a position as an assistant principal at the high school level, and then to what some might characterize as a surprising twist: a position as child nutrition director...