Originally established in 1967 as the Distinguished Service Award, the award was renamed in 1973 to honor the first recipient, Theodore W. Minah. The award is presented annually in recognition of exemplary and enduring contributions to the foodservice industry and to the association. The NACUFS board of directors and council of past presidents select the recipient from among nominations submitted by the NACUFS membership.
The Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor that NACUFS can bestow. The selection of a person deserving such an honor is based on contributions both to NACUFS and to the foodservice industry. The winner and their guest receive transportation to/from the national conference, including airfare and ground transportation between the airport and hotel, complimentary conference registration, and a hotel room for the duration of the conference.
2019 Terry Waltersdorf, 2018 Janet Despard, 2017 Rich Neumann, 2016 Dennis Pierce, 2015 Jon Lewis, 2014 Sharon Coulson, 2013 Sam Bennett, 2012 Russ Meyer, 2011 Sister Maureen Schrimpe, 2010 R. Cameron (Cam) Schauf, 2009 Art Korandanis, 2008 Jane Grant-Shambaugh, 2007 Mona Milius, 2006 Dave Prentkowski, 2005 Diane "Dee" Hardy, 2004 Brian Klippel, 2003 Julaine Kiehn, 2002 Frank X. Gladu, 2001 Dean A. Wright, 2000 John Pence, 1999 Jamesena Miller, 1998 William May, 1997 Len Hodgson, 1996 Shirleta Benfield, 1995 Mary Molt, 1994 Elaine Bellew, 1993 D. Ronald Inlow, 1992 Margaret Lacey, 1991 Frank Weissbecker, 1990 Larry Barrett, 1989 Donald M. Jacobs, 1988 Norman Hill, 1987 John Robinson, 1986 Theodore Smith, 1984 Paul Fairbrook, 1983 Wells Cloward, 1981 Jean Riggs, 1980 Douglas Richie, 1979 Eleanor Alexander, 1978 Joe Blair, 1977 Fred Dollar, 1976 Clark DeHaven, 1975 John Birchfield, 1974 Loyal Horton, 1973 Herman Zaccarelli, 1972 John Friese, 1971 Robert Buchanan, 1970 George Prillaman, 1969 Donald Greenaway, 1968 Richard Lichtenfelt, 1967 Theodore Minah