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Matthew Essner

Motivational Speaker Donna VanLiere

Matthew Essner is a proven leader in business, leadership, teamwork, and adapting to change. He has an undeniable passion for bringing out the best in individuals by living each day with purpose.

Essner has deep roots in the school lunch arena where he is currently the Coordinator for the USDA Food Distribution Program in the State of Missouri and the active President for the national organization, American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA). His remarkable turnaround of an outdated Missouri program and dysfunctional team has now become a business model countrywide. Sitting in meetings with USDA officials, Congressional committees, and CEOs of major national companies, he has learned what it takes to make the program thrive.

Growing up the eldest of four siblings in a rural Southeast Missouri town, Matthew learned the value of a strong work ethic from his parents and worked his way through college, becoming the first member of his family to graduate. Earning both a B.S. in Agriculture Economics and B.S. in Agriculture Systems Management in 4 years set him up for quick entrepreneurial success in a snack business he created upon college graduation. Matthew achieved Category Leader in each of his first two years, and also the Distributor of the Year his second year in business.

Matthew receives requests from associates countrywide to provide speaking engagements and educational opportunities. He prides himself in custom-creating presentations to fit the needs of the organization by encompassing real-life scenarios to drive home the agreed upon message.

Essner is an avid Mizzou Tiger fan traveling from Columbia, MO, where he lives with his lovely wife Jody, and their two boys.

Motivational Speaking Topics

  • School Nutrition
  • Goal Setting
  • Embracing Change
  • Finding Balance in Life
  • Working with Purpose
  • Building Strong Teams


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“Your presentation was great! I heard nothing but positive comments.”
Ida Daniels, President 2013-2014
Florida School Nutrition Association
“Thank you Matthew, for coming to talk to us! I walked out of there Friday with a good feeling of knowing ‘change’ can do a person good. Felt as if your message was directed to me somehow with what I have going on in my life. Keep up the great work you do, what an inspiration you are! Thank you again!”
Dena, Lee’s
Summit Nutrition Services
“Your message is so great and has given me the strength and motivation to go for my dreams! :)”
Ginger Meritt
Editing by Ginger
“I am so proud of you.  You truly are an inspiration. May God continue giving you the ‘light’ to continue shining thru your wonderful Ignite-the-Passion messages.”
Jose Quinones, School Business Development
J.T.M. Food Group National
“THIS IS WONDERFUL! Thank you for bringing this to us to share with others... What an inspiration YOU are!!!”
Patti Turner
FSD Kirbyville Public Schools
“I have used your message both personally and to share as pieces of professional development.”
Von Gulliford
FSD Liberty Public Schools
“Thanks so much for your words of wisdom, Matthew.”
Teree Davis
Pattonville School District

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