SNA-VA President Named Mid-Atlantic Director of the Year

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Sandy Stokes, our esteemed incoming President! It is with great pride that we announce her recent accolade as the 2024 School Nutrition Association Mid-Atlantic Region Director of the Year. This distinguished honor is truly well-deserved, and we are immensely proud to celebrate her remarkable achievement.


Petersburg City Public Schools Nutrition Director
Receives Mid-Atlantic Region Award Recognition

(Arlington, VA – May 1, 2024) – The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has named Sandra Stokes, SNS, School Nutrition Director for Petersburg City Public Schools, Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic region Director of the Year. The award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of school nutrition directors who manage effective school meal programs providing healthy, appetizing meals to students.

Sandra Stokes overhauled school nutrition program operations in the district, improving morale and putting new policies in place to address areas including employee training, equipment replacement and safety/sanitation initiatives.

She treasures the opportunity to work with students and is described as an effective communicator who connects well with students and all levels of administration. While planning renovations to improve food serving lines, Stokes engaged students and implemented many of their ideas, giving them a sense of pride in the new spaces. She also participates in back-to-school community outreach programs to educate families on various aspects of school nutrition, provide nutritional information and give tips on healthy snacking. Stokes is an advocate of incorporating local fruits and vegetables on district menus and encourages families to increase the amount of scratch cooking at home.

Faced with a lack of usable equipment and poor maintenance of existing equipment at aging schools, Stokes developed a three-year equipment plan. She procured grant funds to replace more than 30 pieces of major equipment and worked closely with the maintenance department to fix long-standing problems at the schools. To help manage staffing shortages, Stokes developed a program to hire bus drivers and cross-train them in the cafeteria. She has also worked closely with the district finance department to create a more transparent program and update the antiquated Point of Service system. Stokes was also responsible for launching a new menu viewer program and nutritional analysis program to modernize the department.

Community involvement is important to Stokes. She participates in various outreach groups and programs to improve nutrition, physical activity and general wellness of the community’s children and families, including Petersburg Healthy Options Partnerships (PHOPs), Fit 4 Kids and Fuel Up to Play 60.

“Sandra came to her district at a time when improvements to the food service program were greatly needed,” said Chris Derico, SNS, School Nutrition Association President. “She overcame several obstacles and implemented effective policies to improve the program and benefit students, staff and the school community.”

Stokes shows leadership by building an empowered team and always encourages employees to share ideas and go outside their comfort zone. She secured funding to pay for nutrition staff to attend the state SNA conference and strongly believes in training and promoting staff from within.

Stokes held several positions for Virginia SNA, serving on the executive board for more than 10 years and helping to develop key policies and procedures. Later this year, she will take on a second term as VA-SNA president. Stokes is a strong proponent of the Association and often can be seen approaching others at meetings about advantages of membership.

The Director of the Year Award was created to recognize school nutrition directors who exhibit an extraordinary commitment to their school meal programs. The directors are responsible for maintaining the quality of the program through student interaction, menu planning and a commitment to serving nutritious, tasty and well-balanced school meals. Through effective oversight of all aspects of food service operations, including budgeting, staffing, training, marketing and community outreach, school nutrition directors ensure the overall success of school meal programs.

Stokes was announced as the Mid-Atlantic region Director of the Year during an online awards ceremony on April 30 in advance of School Lunch Hero Day, celebrated on May 3, 2024, to honor all of America’s dedicated school nutrition professionals. The accomplishments of Stokes and all SNA award winners will also be highlighted in a special digital publication and promoted in SNA’s annual Hero Day social media campaign on and

About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 50,000 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