By Leah Schmidt, SNS, SNA President 2013-07-30 03:41:56
When I think about the changing, challenging times we are facing as school nutrition professionals, a quote that a friend once told me comes to mind: “If you’re not at the table, you’re likely on the menu.” Fortunately, SNA increasingly is being welcomed to take our place at the table. In the last year, we strengthened our partnerships with state agencies and industry members, as well as with key allied organizations, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Food Service Management Institute and the White House. It’s wonderful to have some powerful supporters that truly understand our programs! These collaborations have helped to generate recognition that school nutrition programs are a critical part of the solution to both childhood hunger and obesity. Of course, just the way we, as individuals, don’t always agree with friends and family, we can acknowledge that, as an organization, we might not always support the positions or approaches of some of our allies. Still, making it a priority to maintain those relationships—even when we agree to disagree—serves to make us more powerful over the long run. As we continue to cultivate alliances, we must commit to providing our partners with honest feedback. This is critical to our continued success in maintaining the integrity of our programs. This year, I challenge you to develop and strengthen partnerships in your community. When we each rise to this challenge, we work toward the outcomes of the five pillars of our strategic framework. Consider how you can help us meet our goals! • Education and Public Image: By encouraging professionalism at all levels of your operation and making every effort to enhance the public image of school meals and the professionals who serve them, you help to strengthen our position that school meals are integral to educational achievement. • Advocacy and Community: By strengthening your relationships with legislators, allied organizations and other potential supporters, you will create lasting community ties and position yourself to be a more effective advocate for your program. • Membership: By invigorating your relationships with other SNA members, everyone wins, supporting one another in the challenges and achievements of this business. It is truly an honor to serve as your SNA president. Let me give special thanks to the incredible support system in my district. Already they have demonstrated the value of working together, embodying the spirit of this year’s theme: Positive Partnerships for Healthy Results. I look forward to working together with you, so that we achieve the best for our students, for one another and for our communities.
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