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 several new accounts; she also supervises the day-to-day operations in many of the schools. Behind the scenes, she coordinates the company’s annual food show, which brings numerous vendors together with the unit managers to showcase and discuss the latest, healthiest products for students. In addition, Lisa assists with the internal operations of the company and researches local, organic and natural food offerings for use in the schools. Lisa also serves as an officer of the board of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.
From an early age, Lisa cultivated a keen interest in healthy eating and maintaining an active lifestyle. Lisa delights in creating recipes for healthy and nutrient rich snacks that will both fuel students and please their palates. She also enjoys the challenge of analyzing and revamping school lunch menus to create nutrient balanced lunch programs. To ensure that she recommends and serves only the highest quality products, Lisa meticulously reviews ingredient lists, nutrition information and product sourcing.
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.
Maxon Keating’s curiosities and perception of health and nutrition has been evolving ever since his youth. He was accustomed to his father’s dailymeals from scratch, many of the family’s canned goods came from their seasonal garden, and picking an unlimited supply of wild asparagus with his father was a regular springtime activity. Growing up in eastern South Dakota, he was surrounded by agriculture and the life cycles of plants and animals were engrained in him at a very young age.
While graduating with a B.S. in Environmental Science from Southwest Minnesota State University, the subjects of nutrition and health only grew in importance to him. He has witnessed different cultural diets and its effects on population while in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. During his longest stay overseas, he worked on an organic farm in Brazil and decided to make community health his priority upon returning. It has only become more evident of how health is directly affected by what we consume in combination with our level of physical activity.
He has encouraged and educated a broader consumption of natural foods to friends, family, collegiate athletes, and communities both in and outside the country. This practice of informing others on the importance of their personal diets is his passion. He believes wellness and health are in the hands of individuals and the tools to vibrant healthy lives are through education.
Lauren Roth, Program Illustrator
Jovanni Ramos, Education Consultant
Growing up Nicole spent 3 months each year in the rural part of Eastern Long Island. The abundance of farm stands and local fare made eating farm-to-table not a movement, but just the way of life. Coming from a family who loves to cook together, she quickly learned to appreciate the incredible, fresh resources she had around her.
Nicole competed her Bachelors degree in Business Marketing and Communications from Loyola University in Maryland in 2008. Shortly after her love of food and strong interest in health and wellness led her to Montclair State University where she is concurrently pursing a Masters degree in Nutrition and Foods Science and a Didactic Program in Dietetics.
She began with Veggiecation in October of 2011 and has since loved the health-minded community she has become a part of, the great food culture that surrounds the company and her role as a nutrition educator.
Natalie loves working with children. Her favorite moments are when a child tells her they will try one of our healthy recipes at home. Natalie says that working for Veggiecation is a wonderful experience, and she is excited for her growth within the company. Natalie believes that educating our youth is one of the most important steps in becoming a healthier nation.
Maurie is a Certified Health Coach specializing in childhood nutrition. She graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2011 with a certificate from the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont.
Health and wellness have always played a key role in Maurie's life. Prior to moving to Manhattan in August 2011, Maurie resided in beautiful Colorado where she enjoyed cycling, hiking, skiing, climbing, and running, all right outside her door.
Her interest and fervor for a plant-based diet was cultivated while working at a vegetarian bistro in Colorado. She discovered how healing and restorative plant foods were for both body and mind. Since arriving in Manhattan she has immersed herself in the local and powerful school food movement. With a bodega on every corner selling all manners of processed food, she immediately recognized the need to improve childhood nutrition and education within New York's young population. She believes Veggiecation is doing just that. Her work with Veggiecation began in May and she has been loving every minute of it.
Sam is a psychology major at Rutgers University. After he completes his undergraduate degree, he would like to study health psychology in graduate school and eventually move on to research. In his free time, Sam loves running, yoga, eating (healthy) and relaxing with friends. Sam is a recent vegan and is loving every minute of it.