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Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner


SNA Announces 2018 National Industry Member of the Year


SNA 2018 Industry Member of the Year Mary Begalle

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – The School Nutrition Association (SNA) will recognize Mary Begalle, PhD, RDN, SNS, of SunOpta Foods Inc. as the national Industry Member of the Year at its 72nd Annual National Conference in July in Las Vegas, Nev.. In addition to recognizing state and regional award winners, SNA will honor Begalle as one of four members to earn national accolades for superior accomplishments in the school nutrition arena.

Begalle is currently the Vice President of Customer Marketing at SunOpta Foods Inc., one of the leading global organic food companies that specialize in the sourcing, processing and packaging of natural and certified organic foods. A current School Nutrition Foundation Board member, Begalle is a former SNA Board member and has volunteered to serve on numerous SNA committees and task forces throughout the years. In her 36-year career in the field of school nutrition, Begalle has supported national conferences, scholarships, annual celebrations and awards, and the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, a nonprofit working to support international school meal programs.

Begalle has a long history of helping the advancement of school nutrition through research and partnerships to evaluate and improve programs, specifically school breakfast. She was the co-designer and manager of a six-year research grant project that studied the affects of school breakfast programs on student achievement. She co-authored “Energizing the Classroom” to explain project findings, a report utilized by foreign countries, state governments and local school boards to develop new policies and legislation in support of school breakfast programs. Begalle also conducted research on relationship marketing tactics in the school nutrition market, earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Foodservice and Lodging Management from Iowa State University.

Advocating for the K-12 nutrition industry, she has shared her expertise as keynote and break-out session speaker at numerous School Nutrition Association conferences, including in her home state of Minnesota. She has also been a presenter at the Ministry of Education Lecture Series in Chile and at national conferences for the National School Boards Association, Association of School Business Officials, and the American Commodity Distribution Association.

“Mary Begalle’s knowledge and dedication to school nutrition is admirable, and she is well respected in the field,” said SNA President Lynn Harvey, EdD, RDN, SNS. “It is wonderful to see a professional take such pride in her work, promoting and fervently supporting a mission she passionately believes in. We are fortunate to have her as a school nutrition leader.”

Begalle is a decorated school nutrition professional, having received the Federation of Government Information Processing Council’s Intergovernmental Solutions Award, Governor Jesse Ventura Certificate of Recognition, FAME Silver Leadership Award, U.S. Department of Agriculture National Best Practices Award, Minnesota Department of Education Standards of Excellence Award, as well as awards from SNA and Minnesota SNA.

About School Nutrition Association:The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 57,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit

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