MSNA Announces Candidate Slate for 2018 Election!

By  •  April 13, 2018 at 7:19 am

It’s almost time to head to the polls to decide who will represent you on the Association’s Executive Board and Leadership Development Committee. This year’s election features candidates whose SNA volunteer experience, leadership talent and passion for child nutrition have earned them a place on the ballot.

The 2018 Leadership Development Committee role was to identify and recruit volunteers with the expertise and enthusiasm to step up to elected leadership positions. Each and every MSNA member’s vote counts in selecting those who will lead the Association to address the challenges and opportunities of the future.

It is time to meet the candidates!

Vice President

Mary Jo Lange, SNS is currently completing her fifth year as Food Service Coordinator at Red Lake School District.  She served 9 years at Blackduck School District, with the last seven of those years as Food Service Director.  She is SNA Credentialed SNS and holds a SNA Level 3 Certificate.  Mary Jo is currently completing her second two-year term as MSNA Secretary/ Finance Chair, and serves on the Annual Conference, Industry Conference (SNIP), Marketing, and Executive Committees, as well as the Policy & Procedure Committee and the By-Law Committee. She is currently President of MSNA Paul Bunyan Chapter 34. Mary Jo is a licensed National Restaurant Association ServSafe Instructor and Exam Proctor.

She has attended national SNA Leadership Conferences and has represented MN at the national level with the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN). She is a MN Dept. of Education Mentor in the Team Up for Success Program and is a participant in the USDA’s World Café project, which is developing a plan to submit to the USDA that, if approved, would convert all meal patterns in all Child Nutrition Programs, so that they would be universal across all programs! Through MDE she hosted a successful visit for three Midwest Regional USDA staff during her Administrative Review!   Mary Jo has extensive experience serving the members of MSNA at the Executive Board level.  She is uniquely prepared to serve as Vice President, with four years’ board experience serving on the board.  She fully understands the requirements of the position and is poised to undertake the responsibilities of Vice President, representing MSNA members state-wide.

Donna Tvedt is the Food and Nutrition Services Director of Moorhead Area Public Schools. She has been in the food service industry for 43 years. Donna started out in school food service in 1975 as a cook in a small school district in North Dakota and the following year was asked to take over as head of that district’s food service program. She transitioned to a hospital food service setting in Fargo, North Dakota but in 1985 became the lead cook in the North Dakota State University food service department. After 10 years she went back to the hospital setting, becoming the lead cook in Fargo.
In 1999, Donna decided to go back to her roots in school food service. She became the Head Cook/Manager for the Moorhead High School in Moorhead MN. In 2009 became interim food service director and food service director in 2010. She has served as co- president of MSNA Chapter 23 – Land of Lakes. Donna believes that the food service industry employs some of the hardest working people today. Her goal as vice president would be to promote professional development to better professional development to better.

Secretary/Finance Chair

Penny Hoops is the Food Service Director for BHM Schools (Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose). She holds a SNA Level 3 Certificate and a MN Dept of Health Food Manager License. Penny has been working in School Food Ser-vice for 7 years and before coming to BHM this year she was the FS Director overseeing Albany, ROCORI and Paynesville School Districts.

She was the Secretary and Treasurer for Central Granite Chapter 24 for 5 years.  Penny has served as the President of the School Directors of MN Group.  She has served the Annual State Conference committee for the past 4 years and is currently the Co-Chair of the 2018 Annual Conference. Penny believes she would be a great asset to the MSNA Executive Board as the Secretary/Finance Chair.  She has a strong history with her previous school districts in the finance area, bringing the fund balances to a surplus that required a spend down plan.   She will strive to be involved in any planning, trainings that will increase her knowledge of School Food Nutrition Programs.  She would be honored to serve the members as the MSNA Secretary/Finance Chair to continue the great path that Mary Jo Lange has paved and continuing working on getting more MN out state and rural involvement.

Leadership Development Committee

Valerie Johns is honored to be running for a spot on the Leadership Development Committee. Valerie was born in Southern California, from a family of bakers and restaurant owners. Her family moved to Duluth where her parents owned and operated the “House of Donuts” by the campus of UMD. Valerie has been employed with Eden Prairie School full time since November 2002 where she manages the coffee shop at the high school. She is a food-service trainer in Edina since 2010 and operates her own training site “Starting Out Smart By Valerie”. Valerie has been recognized as a School Nutrition Association Star Club member. Valerie holds a SNA Level 3 certificate and is a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor, Minnesota Department of Health Trainer and Union Steward.

Valerie attends the State Conferences yearly along with attending the National Conference this year in Las Vegas. Valerie has volunteered on many committees with the West Suburban Chapter 14 and currently holds the “President Elect” position. Valerie has many attributes that she can offer to this leadership position. Valerie  says she is the right candidate to promote MSNA.

Sherri Knutson is presently the Coordinator of Stu-dent Nutrition Services for Rochester Pub-lic Schools.  She has 28 years of experience in school nutrition programs. She is a Past President of MSNA (2006-2007) and also served as Education Chair & Legislative Chair. She has served on numerous SNA Committees.

Sherri is a past recipient of the SNA Director of the Year Award-winning the state, regional and national award! Sherri is running for the Leadership Development Committee because she knows that there are many talented and creative school nutrition professionals in Minnesota.  Sometimes these   individuals just need a personal “nudge” to take their leader-ship abilities to the next level.  Sherri could help be that motivator or mentor!

Voting will be open from May 1st to May 15th


  • To be eligible to vote you must be a member in good standing as of April 30, 2018
  • You must enter a valid MSNA ID number to be qualified to vote
  • You may only vote once – duplicate votes will not be counted
  •  All members may cast a vote for Vice President, Secretary Finance, and Leadership Development Committee

We will be using Survey Monkey for the election and a link will be emailed to all eligible MSNA members with an email address on file. MSNA members that have not provided an email address to SNA will be able to visit the MSNA website during the voting timeframe and click on a link to cast their votes.


Industry Chair Election
The election for the Industry Chair will begin May 9th at the SNIP conference being held at Breezy Point.  All current MSNA Industry Members will be able to vote with one vote per company.  For Industry members not attending the conference, a ballot will be mailed to the main listed contact and must be returned by May 25th to the MSNA office.

Dave Giancristoforo is a K12 Food Ser-vices Specialist and BID Specialist for GVM Food Marketing. He has been part of the GVM team for six years, overseeing sales for North Dakota, South Dakota, parts of Minnesota and all the bids for GVM Food Marketing.

Dave’s passion for food and customer service can be seen through many of his accomplishments. With increased sales in MN and pioneering ND and SD for most of the manufacturer lines he represents. Dave has served on the Industry Advisory Board as well as the Industry Conference Committee. Prior to his role at GVM, Dave worked for Caribou Coffee Companies in Management and Customer Satisfaction. During his tenure, he was number one in sales for the entire company for Amy’s Blend, two-years in a row, and earned an average of 97 percent in satisfaction scores yearly. Dave attended the University of Minnesota, HTC Culinary Arts Program, plus the school of hard knocks. He believes in “work hard, play hard” and enjoys spending time with his daughter – before she’s too embarrassed as a full-fledged teen – and capturing the beauty of Minnesota through his passion for photography. Dave will bring hard work, dedication and a lot of fun to the Industry Advisory Board, and he looks forward to the chance to serve as new Industry chair