Nancy Close’s heart and soul are in the food world, with roots that run deep. Her parents started and ran Caravan Serai, one of the first Afghan restaurants in the U.S. She saw from an early age how the warmth and graciousness of the Afghan culture, combined with delicious food, created a powerful experience for customers. After working in the corporate food world, she took the reins of Caravan Serai from her parents and went on to win numerous awards for her food and service.
In 1990, she started catering meals for her brother's daycare business from the restaurant. Other schools soon expressed interest in her food, leading to the formation of CKC Good Food®. It grew quickly based on Nancy's passion for creating food that was both delicious and nutritious. CKC is now one of the leading school catering companies in the nation.
Nancy was chosen a 2014 Women in Business honoree by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. She also was recognized with an honorable mention in the Homegrown Hero Awards from the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council in 2013.
Throughout his career, Eldon Brustuen has been a catalyst for small and mid-sized businesses’ growth both domestically and internationally. He has personally founded or co-founded six US and international companies as well as the Minnesota Trade Office, which he established while serving as the director of International Trade as a Honeywell Loaned Executive to the Governor’s Office. He currently serves or has served on the boards of numerous corporations, nonprofit organizations, and trade, state and international boards and commissions.
Eldon immersed himself in the school foodservice industry beginning in 2012 as a sales and marketing consultant to CKC Good Food, the school food catering company from which NutriStudents K-12 was borne. Under his leadership, NutriStudents K-12 has successfully helped school districts nationally benefit from CKC Good Food’s 30 years of experience in child nutrition programs.
As former foodservice manager, Laurie trains schools on food safety guidelines and regulations, and service and reporting procedures; and helps prepare them for compliance reviews. She has been in the foodservice industry for more than 20 years, 13 of which were specifically in school foodservice positions managing student populations of up to 2,300 students. She is a certified School Nutrition Specialist, a ServSafe Certified Instructor and Exam Procter, a Registered Dietetic Technician, has achieved Level 3 Certification with the School Nutrition Association and has earned her Minnesota food manager certificate. She has an associate’s degree in applied science as a dietetic technician.
A California-native, Amanda has a heart for helping kids establish a healthy lifestyle and an appreciation for good nutrition. She has consistently demonstrated a commitment to addressing clients' needs and excellent client service throughout her extensive sales career. Previously, Amanda was strategic account manager for a computer learning center franchise, where she successfully met and exceed sales goals by expanding the client base and growing business from existing clients. Prior to that, she called on school districts and nonprofit organizations as a sales executive with Trident Case.
Shelly has worked in the foodservice industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as the foodservice director for the Staples-Motley (Minnesota) School District. While at the district, she became one of the first clients of NutriStudents K-12 and one of our biggest fans. She maximized the use of the full NutriStudents K-12 system to increase participation, decrease waste and achieve a dramatic financial turnaround. Unlike the years prior to NutriStudents K-12, she had a budget surplus nearly every year she used NutriStudents K-12, which helped her fund unplanned equipment purchases and maintenance. Prior to working for the district, Shelly was kitchen manager for May Creek Assisted Living in Walker, Minnesota, for 9 years.
Linnea Redinger has a proven track record for making nutrition topics engaging and impactful. Prior to joining NutriStudents K-12, Linnea was a content creator, product developer and marketing specialist for Visualz (formerly Learning ZoneXpress). In her 14 years with the company, she created award-winning educational resources and marketing materials for child nutrition programs and public health organizations. She led the graphic design team, providing direction on all aspects related to visual design, including product development and marketing. She also spearheaded social media and e-mail marketing in cooperation with the company’s sales team. Linnea has a degree in nutrition and dietetics from Concordia College.
James has parlayed his extensive front-line foodservice experience into a training and customer service, and menu/database development role with NutriStudents K-12. He began working for CKC Good Food, the sister company to NutriStudents K-12, in 2008, and has held roles including foodservice manager at two different client locations, chef, server, procurement representative, chef trainer and menu planner. He got his start in foodservice during high school, serving meals to residents of a senior living facility. James is ServSafe Certified and has a certificate of completion for the NUTRIKIDS Advanced 101 Program.
Andrew brings vast industry experience and a client-centered approach to his responsibilities with NutriStudents K-12. Always seeking to simplify tasks for clients, he is currently developing a complex new tool to automate menu selection and purchasing for our clients. He's also the creator of our proprietary Commodity Forecasting Tool and other analytical tools that support our value to clients. He has worked in foodservice since 2011 as a prep cook, kitchen manager and portion coordinator. Andrew is ServSafe certified, and has studied accounting, business management and music education.
With experience in both school foodservice and mainline food distribution, Jeanne provides valuable school nutrition expertise to the NutriStudents K-12 team and our clients. She serves as our Registered Dietitian, analyzing menus and recipes for nutritional content and compliance with federal guidelines. She was previously the director of foodservice for the Superior, Wisconsin, school district for 16 years, overseeing an annual budget of nearly $3 million, and the service of 6,500 breakfasts, lunches and after-school dinners daily. Prior to Superior, she worked in sales/marketing for food distribution company Upper Lakes Foods for 13 years. She is a past president of the Wisconsin School Nutrition Association.