Make It a Team Effort Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fun and safe holiday season; I enjoyed spending time with my family, especially my grandkids. Now, with the start of the new year in our kitchens and cafeterias, it seems that we all have survived the first semester of change— and, ideally, are now all at least a bit more comfortable with the changes of the new meal pattern regulation. I know how difficult change can be. I worked for 18 years at a middle school, and it was only last year that I moved up to a high school. After so many years, I knew my former school well, and my job was almost “easy.” But at the high school, things are very different! I have double the student customers and twice the staff members who work for me. Many school activities, including sports, choir, band and clubs, take students away from the school site during meal times; there are even students in the workforce are gone from school for half the day! This changes how I estimate the number of students to feed on any given day. At lunch, we have nine different serving lines, each with a different menu. My staff and I work very closely together to ensure that our menus are healthy and tasty. Our students are very helpful and willing to give us feedback on our menu items, and we try to serve the foods that they like and will eat. Most kids will try most things at least once, but they let us know when they don’t like an item! We’ll remove it from the menu; I know I won’t eat what I don’t like, so I don’t expect my students to do so, either. Teamwork and flexibility have been so important to help me adjust to these kinds of changes—and helped my team to adjust to the changes related to the new regulation. My cafeteria team members listen to each other, to the students and to me, and they all are awesome in the kitchen! I could not do what I do without them. I hope that each of you has a great team you can work with to create the best school meals program that you can for your students. Because we all are one big team in our district—and one team in our state and the nation—I always appreciate hearing ideas from other managers and school nutrition employees. The ideas shared by school nutrition professionals across the country help us all to perform better. So, please e-mail me at email@example.com and let me know what you are serving, what’s working with your students and how your school year is going. Recognize Exceptional Colleagues Awards Deadline Nearing The beginning of the new calendar year means that SNA’s awards season is well underway. Take some time to consider whether you know an exceptional employee or coworker you’d like to nominate. The Louise Sublette Award of Leadership Excellence in School Nutrition is awarded to a manager who coordinates a special project. Although the deadline for the letter of intent to submit an application has passed, now is a great time to start thinking about next year’s project! If you have submitted a letter of intent, remember that final entries are due March 1, 2013. The Heart of the Program Award honors school nutrition employees who demonstrate customer service, interest in young people, cooperation, work attendance, creativity, participation in professional growth and a willingness to “go the extra mile.” The entry is due March 1, 2013 to your state president. For more information, visit www.schoolnutrition.org/awards. Legislative Action Conference March 3-6, 2013 Are you ready to join your school nutrition colleagues in Washington, D.C., for SNA’s 41st annual Legislative Action Conference (LAC)? LAC is a valuable meeting for members at all job levels to attend. You will hear from Washington insiders about the inner workings of our democratic process and examine the implications from the 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections. Plus, it’s your best opportunity to hear directly from representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA ), as you continue to navigate operational challenges related to the new meal pattern regulation. And you will have the opportunity to share your unique expertise when you visit Capitol Hill and speak directly with elected officials. Learn more by visiting www.schoolnutrition.org/lac or calling (800) 877-8822.
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