Lisa Suriano, the inspired creator of the Veggiecation® program, had little choice but to love and respect her vegetables. As a child, she picked armfuls of fresh string beans, escarole, and squash from her grandfather's abundant garden and placed them in the capable hands of her grandmother and father, both of whom raised (and fed) her right in their busy kitchens. Meanwhile Lisa's mother taught her the art of light-style cooking and helped develop her love for whole grains. After she grew strong on delicious home-cooked meals, she went off to The College of New Jersey, where she earned a degree in Business Administration. In the spring of 2010, Lisa completed a Masters of Science in Nutrition and Food Science at Montclair State University. She has studied food processing and its effect of nutrient denaturation, sports-specific nutrition, FDA/USDA regulations, and food allergy safety and labeling. Currently, Lisa keeps abreast of the most current research in the areas of nutrition and nutrition education. She has been a guest writer on these topics for several popular school food advocacy blogs such as Better DC School Food and The Lunch Tray. Lisa has also attained a variety of complementary credentials. She is:
Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Lisa joined the family business, J.C. Food, a premier school food service company for independent schools in New York, Connecticut and Boston metro areas, as the Director of Operations. Since joining the J.C. Foods Management team, Lisa has assisted with the opening of new accounts; she also supervises the day-to-day operations in many of the schools. Behind the scenes, she coordinates the company's local food procurement and provides menu review and nutrition guidance.
Lisa also serves as the Co-Chair officer of the board of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food; a non-profit that works in partnership with New York City’s Department of SchoolFood to introduce plant-based foods and nutrition education to improve the health of New York state students.
Additionally, she serves as the Nutritionist for Lessing’s Food Service Management consulting for college level foods service programs, providing menu advisement and sports nutrition guidance for university athletics teams and providing nutritional services for their corporate dining customers.
Lisa has been featured in a selection of national and regional media, including traditional print and broadcast as well as online news and social media outlets. Featured broadcast segments include NBC Weekend Today in New York, WPIX Morning News and NY1, where Lisa shared with viewers healthy, vegetarian recipes and discussed how viewers can incorporate healthy food choices into their diets. Lisa has also made broadcast appearances on The Wendy Williams Show, ABC News International, One-on-One with Steve Adubato, FIOS Push Play, CUNY TV, NY1 and News 12 New York, Bronx, Brooklyn and New Jersey.
Food has always been an underlying passion of Nina's. Growing up in a multicultural household, there was no room for picky eaters and Nina learned the importance of fresh and healthy food from a young age. Her passion for nutrition and health started in high school when she worked in the Whole Body department of her local Whole Foods Market. She found herself surrounded by knowledgeable nutrition enthusiasts who were eager to educate people about alternatives to traditional health practices.
Nina graduated from Baruch College in 2011 with a degree in Public Affairs. She is a Certified Non-Profit Profressional (CNP), a certification she received while at Baruch College. While mission-centric work and nutrition have always interested Nina, it wasn't until after graduation that she decided to pursue issues pertaining to food policy. She has spent the last year working at a leading vegan and sustainable restaurant in New York City and surrounding herself with people who understand the importance of nutrition and the sustainable food movement.
Nina is also ServSafe Certified in proper food handling and protection against foodborne illness as well as Allergy Safety.
After spending 17 years as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), Lori decided to take her passion for helping people in a new direction. After going back to school and graduating from college as a dietitian, this mother of five children knew exactly where to combine her medical and nutritional fields.
Always a challenge to get her kids to make the right choices, Lori would find creative ways to make dinner healthier as well as fun by incorporating the family in the cooking process. After coming across Veggiecation, it was clear that the company and Lori were meant for each other.
Immediately after getting trained and certified as a Veggiecator Educator, Lori took the program to surrounding schools, daycare centers, health centers and sports recreation centers, to name a few, to see if there would be interest in setting up classes for her to conduct. The response was overwhelming as she was contracted by numerous centers to help teach their children and adults just how much fun Veggiecation and its recipes can be and currently is contracted for the entire school year in two large southern New Jersey schools. Lori took Veggiecation to new heights with her drive and determination! She now will be helping our newest members find their own footing as part of our administrative team as Director of Nutrition Education Training.
Randi Kant, MS, MPH, ~ Certified Health Education Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Intrinsic Coach®, Certified Veggiecator® Educator ~ self-proclaimed community health educator and advocate.
Motivated by a deeply held belief in the power of a healthy lifestyle to maximize health and quality of life, Randi has developed, led and advanced wellness programs for extremely diverse populations in a wide variety of settings.
Her work in the wellness field has flourished into a cornucopia career encompassing active aging, personal training, health coaching, worksite wellness and community health advocacy.
Now as a mom to her 4 year old daughter, she loves bringing Veggiecation® to the families in her community-minded Chicago neighborhood. She says it’s a dream program that fills a simple yet ultimately vital need – the acquisition of the knowledge and skills needed to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
Casey’s strong interest in nutrition has evolved through a direct link to her serious investment in athletics. Playing for a national level volleyball travel team throughout high school and for the University of Rochester, she directly experienced the correlation between healthy eating and athletic performance. Casey graduated from the University of Rochester in 2012 with a degree in psychology. She participated in psychology research, which involved highlighting parts of the brain that impact decision making between healthy and unhealthy foods.
Casey is currently a master’s candidate at Montclair State University in the Nutrition and Food Science program. She also coaches a travel volleyball team where she shares her passion for healthy eating with youth athletes.
Lauren's artwork is a unique combination of specialty paper, watercolor, acrylics, paint markers, ink, you name it and she has probably used it!
Her focus is a mainly a linear based whimsical expression of simple objects found in life. The dreamy colors and organic shapes layered on a textured surface invite the viewer in. To her it brings an understanding of what she see and what she want to express to the world.
Lauren received her degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Illustration. Since graduating has worked as an artist and marketer for Whole Foods Market in New Jersey, New York and Hawaii, while keeping up a steady freelance of gallery exhibitions, magazine publications, and many more unique fun projects. The places she has lived and traveled hold a heavy influence on her world.
Jovanni Ramos graduated Fordham University in 2005 with a degree in English and Sociology. He immediately was accepted into Americorps' New York City Teaching Fellows program and has been teaching elementary school in Washington Heights for the last six years. Jovanni taught all early childhood grades (K, 1, 2), as well as small intervention groups with students in grades 3-5. While teaching he obtained a masters degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the City College of New York. After he completed Bank Streets College's leadership program for Bilingual and ESL teachers and received a leadership certification.
To expand his teaching experience and continue his professional growth Jovanni now serves as a founding teacher and team leader at a new charter school in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Nancy Burgos-Jackson began her school food career in 1989. She received her degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from New York City Technical College. After graduation, she was selected by the school to do an internship in Germany. She took full advantage of her time in Europe, traveling extensively and getting first hand experience in sampling different foods and cultures. At every opportunity, Nancy has continued her travels - always on the trail of new food adventures, which she brings back and shares with the schools she works with. Nancy worked in independent school food service for four years as the Assistant Chef Manager before becoming the executive chef at JC Food in 1993. Nancy is a very talented and innovative chef who oversees the day-to-day operations of many schools throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. She is passionate about creating more nutritious, lighter versions of classic dishes. Her favorite part of her job is getting to see the smiles on students' faces and see how excited they get about the foods she serves them. Nancy's greatest accomplishment is her two beautiful twin daughters in whom she has successfully grown a love of vegetables!