By Kelsey Casselbury 2014-06-12 06:33:51
Exciting new features. Tried-and-true favorites. ANC 2014 in Boston has all the makings of a conference you won’t want to miss—and one you’ll never forget. THE WISE ONES SUGGEST that history tends to repeat itself—and SNA’s history is enduring, storied and rich. It’s brimming with inspiration and passion and, at the heart of the Association’s past, present (and future) exists an annual conference that is always remembered and discussed for years to come. In July 2014, history surely will repeat itself as SNA members descend on Boston, Mass., for yet another unforgettable Annual National Conference (ANC)—the 68th such gathering since the organization’s founding. The last time SNA’s members took over the Cradle of Liberty for ANC, the year was 1993. The Association was still known as the American School Food Service Association, and the theme of the 47th annual conference was “Seize Today.” It also happened to be the ANC just before SNA President-Elect Julia Bauscher, SNS, joined the national Association, and for years, she’s kicked herself for arriving on the scene a few months too late for what she’s heard was one of the most memorable ANCs in recent memory. “For most of my career, that’s all I heard [from attendees of that event]—it was their favorite conference ever,” Bauscher says. “Daggonit, I hate that I missed it.” Despite her absence in Beantown, one event during the Boston 1993 ANC subsequently made a significant impact on Bauscher: the installation of Dorothy Caldwell as SNA President. Flash forward one year, to the 1994 ANC in St. Louis, Mo. “I was a first-timer,” recollects Bauscher, remembering the impression Caldwell made on her. “I’ll never forget how professional and inspiring she was, and it was then that I thought ‘I’d love to do that one day.’ I’ve told Dorothy 1,000 times that she’s the one who launched me on this trajectory [to becoming president]. It’s like karma. She was installed in Boston, and I’m going to be installed in Boston.” Will history repeat itself in Boston this year? How many SNA members will Bauscher and others in SNA’s leadership inspire to walk a similar path to future roles within the national organization? One thing’s for sure—the sheer number of events, activities and opportunities at ANC 2014 means that, once again, folks will be talking about this conference for some time to come. Just take a look at this year’s lineup! Come to LEARN At its core, ANC is all about professional development. That’s why each day revolves around the dozens of learning opportunities available, whether it’s the pre-conference workshops, official education sessions, one of the numerous other targeted events, such as the School Nutrition Research and Best Practices Showcase (formerly known as the Child Nutrition Showcase), or the chance networking connection you’ll make while waiting for the elevator! If you’ve never made the trip a day early to attend one of the pre-conference sessions, being held on Saturday, July 12, this just might be the year to do it. There are nine options from which to choose, ranging from all-day courses, such as Nutrition 101: A Taste of Food and Fitness, led by the National Food Service Management Institute, to half-day sessions, including Food Allergy Management and Education. These sessions do carry extra registration fees, but you also earn valuable Continuing Education Units for attending. SNA member Shannon Solomon, nutrition coordinator, Aurora (Colo.) Public Schools—you might know her better as one of the “Chopped” contestants profiled in School Nutrition in the November 2013 issue—attended a pre-conference session for the first time last summer in Kansas City. She says she signed up for a pre-conference session in Boston as soon as she registered for the conference, and she highly recommends others do the same. The benefits of arriving a day early alone make it worthwhile, she reports. “[The convention center] is less populated, so you can walk around and get your bearings, attend some classes, get some education and settle in before” activities kick into high gear. Speaking of high gear, we haven’t even discussed the 100+ education sessions occurring during the conference’s official four days. As in years past, these learning events have been divided into the four key areas of SNA’s educational programming: Operations, Administration, Marketing and Communications and Nutrition, Nutrition Education and Physical Activity. This year’s sessions have been carefully scheduled to ensure attendees can make the most of them—for example, there aren’t any sessions specifically targeted toward directors during the Directors-Only time in the Exhibit Hall. However, it’s up to you to make sure that you review all the descriptions and details, so you can prioritize your top interests on your agenda! Check out the dates and times of the sessions in advance on the ANC website (www.schoolnutrition.org/anc), as well as the times of the many other ANC events and activities on the Schedule at a Glance—a tool that Solomon believes is very underutilized, especially by first-timers. “If people look at [the Schedule at a Glance] before the conference, before they get their onsite conference program, it gives them an idea of … what they want out of the conference before they even get there,” she says. “I don’t think people realize that’s there online for them to print out; it really helped me during my second year to not miss as much as I did during the first.” New on the education schedule this year are Roundtable Sessions, 60-minute interactive periods designed as “think-tank discussions.” In these sessions, which focus on subjects such as USDA Foods, the new Community Eligibility Option and food insecurity, you can brainstorm, share challenges and discuss solutions for a wide array of school nutrition issues you face daily. Each of these sessions is limited to just 100 participants, so be sure to arrive early! Come to SHOP Did you remember to pack your walking shoes? You’ll certainly need them for the Exhibit Hall, a veritable smorgasbord of companies and products that might reveal exactly what your operation needs to improve its efficiency, budget or participation. You better be lifting some weights to prepare for all the shopping bags you’ll find yourself hoisting, loaded with product information flyers and samples—but, don’t forget, no rolling carts or bags are allowed on the Exhibit Hall floor for your own and others’ safety! The excitement really begins to build on Monday, July 14, as attendees fill the corridor in front of the Exhibit Hall. After President Leah Schmidt, SNS, declares the Hall officially open, the throngs stream into the Hall—and, if you’re an ANC newbie, you might be in awe of the sights and sounds that lie ahead. A little bit of background: Exhibitors arrive days ahead of the grand opening of the Exhibit Hall, even before most of the first operator members set foot on the streets of Boston. In preparation, the Hall is littered with crates, forklifts and pieces of booths scattered about. “But come that first day, before the doors open, it’s like a play with the cast all in one place, making finishing touches to the product, waiting for the curtain to open for the first act,” likens Mike Burke of ITW Food Equipment Group. “When the doors open, and the rush of attendees stream onto the floor, it’s nothing short of exhilarating.” In Boston, more than 300 companies will be showcasing their wares at nearly 850 booths up and down the aisles of the Exhibit Hall. From energy-efficiency appliances to new flavors of ice cream (and some old favorites!) to effective packaging solutions, the sheer number of products available for attendees to review, test and discuss with industry representatives is downright amazing. Although you’re under no obligation to purchase anything, treat these representatives with the same respect you’d hope for—listen to what they have to say, ask questions and take the information back to your team at home in your school district. You may want to make one targeted pass through the Hall, checking out a specific shopping list you’ve developed in advance. Leave time, though, to wander among all the booths. After all, you never know when you might stumble across the perfect product that you didn’t even know you were looking for. “Take the time to visit as many exhibitors as possible, be inquisitive and enjoy yourself,” Burke recommends. The advice pertains to first-time exhibitors, too! “Exhibitors, don’t just make this another food show,” recommends Gary Vonck of KeyImpact Sales & Systems and the Industry Representative serving on the SNA Board of Directors. “Spend your non-exhibiting time at education sessions. There are learning opportunities at all levels.” Operator registrants might just find that perfect product at a longstanding Exhibit Hall favorite: the culinary demonstrations. Each day’s schedule offers two opportunities to take a load off your feet and learn more about how to menu, prep and present items from a variety of organizations, including Sunkist, Tyson Foods, Sun-Maid and the National Dairy Council. See page 78 for other Exhibit Hall staples that you won’t want to miss at this year’s conference, such as the Wellness Village—oh, those heavenly massages! Come to NETWORK When you ask ANC veterans to identify the most valuable aspect of the conference, one of the top answers is bound to be the networking opportunities. Think about it—where else can you find thousands of your colleagues under one roof, whether they’re school nutrition long-timers or fresh faces with new approaches? “You can get so many ideas from other districts, and if you are working on a specific project, you can almost always find someone who has been there, done that and willing to give you advice and help you out,” says Lori Danella, SNS, nutrition services coordinator for Lee’s Summit (Mo.) School District. If you have been thinking about a new program or considering implementing an idea you saw in School Nutrition, but you’re not entirely sure of the logistics, ANC is the place to ask questions and brainstorm how to achieve your next big success. The networking opportunities begin before the conference officially starts— with Chapter Leadership Day, a morning devoted to SNA chapters across the country. Pre-registration is required, but the $25 fee is well worth it for the fresh ideas that the collective minds will come up with for building vibrant local chapters. (Plus, it includes breakfast!) Other networking opportunities include the School Nutrition Research and Best Practices Showcase, where you can learn more about recent research findings, plus the details of innovative projects and initiatives; the SNA Red Carpet Awards ceremony, the place to be on Sunday morning to celebrate the achievements of your peers; and, of course, the STEPS Challenge Wellness Event on Tuesday morning. This year, “The Biggest Loser” winner Ali Vincent returns for some health and wellness motivation! One of the perfect places to network is at Membership Section Meetings, which give attendees an opportunity to mingle with the peers at their job level and discuss various challenges and opportunities. There are five section meetings scheduled— Employee/Manager, District Director, Major City Director, State Agency and College—but of particular note this year is the Employee/Manager Section Meeting. Following up on his rousing popularity headlining last year’s Closing General Session in Kansas City, author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka, the founder of School Lunch Hero Day (SLHD), will review creative ways that SLHD was celebrated this year and offer ideas on how you can get in on the action next year. Later that same day, Tuesday, July 15, Krosoczka will also sign his latest book in the Lunch Lady series on the Exhibit Hall floor. At least one state affiliate thinks the opportunities at ANC are so great that they’ve come up with an idea to get as many of its members there as possible: SNA of Connecticut (SNACT) plans to charter a bus to Boston. The goal is to cover the cost of the bus through industry sponsors, offer tote bags with the sponsors’ logos and pick members up at three points throughout the state. The Association’s scholarship fund will be used to help members pay their registration fees. “So far, we have a lot of members excited about going to ANC,” says SNACT President Trish Molloy, RD. “We anticipate having no problems filling a 55-passenger bus. … This will be my fourth time attending ANC, and I am always impressed with the high-caliber speakers, the variety of education sessions, the enormous food show and the people I meet from around the country.” Come to EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC While the abundance of ANC professional development happens in the individual meeting rooms of the convention center, much of the overall conference magic occurs in the Ballroom at ANC’s three General Sessions. Truly, these are celebrations of both SNA and the school nutrition profession in its entirety, from the recognition of your hard-working state presidents at the Opening Session to the installation of the 2014-15 Board of Directors during the Closing Session—a moment that’s certain to be bittersweet for outgoing SNA President Leah Schmidt. “It is hard to believe that this year is so close to done,” she admits. “I am totally excited for Boston, but I am ready to get back to my day job on a daily basis, as well. Julia [Bauscher] is such a great leader, and Jean [Ronnei] and Becky [Domokos-Bays] following after her make me feel great about handing over the torch.” But before she passes that baton, SNA members will hear from Schmidt and several other leaders, beginning at the Opening General Session on Sunday, July 13, which just happens to feature the first, and very exciting, of this year’s keynote speakers: award-winning actress Viola Davis. She’s known for her Oscar-nominated work in films such as “The Help” and “Doubt,” as well as lauded stage appearances in “King Hedley II” and “Fences,” both of which earned her Tony Awards. Davis’ latest project involves a cause near and dear to SNA members’ hearts: fighting childhood hunger through the Hunger Is campaign, which launched April 1. The highlighted speaker for the Second General Session, on Tuesday, July 15, has a similar mission: Billy Shore has turned his vocation to end childhood hunger to a successful career as the founder and CEO of Share Our Strength. This General Session also will include an update of SNA’s advocacy efforts. Inspiration and motivation are the names of the game for the Closing General Session speaker, too. Aric Bostick has the fire and tools you need to build your enthusiasm about the school nutrition profession. If you’ve been feeling run-down by all the challenges you face every day, this is the session you won’t want to miss. Be sure to stay for the whole thing and witness the drawing for an all-expenses-paid trip to ANC 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah! “I have attended ANC since 1985, and I view it as ‘the celebration conference’— the end of one year and the start of the next,” says KeyImpact’s Vonck. “The General Sessions are the best; very timely subject matter with special speakers.” To get even more excited about this year’s conference, visit the ANC website to see a new video about the 2014 events and speakers, located at http://tinyurl.com/VideoANC14. Come to ROCK! We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out what a rockin’ Final Event is planned for this year’s conference: Huey Lewis and the News. Fans of late-Eighties, early-Nineties music will certainly recognize the band’s string of No. 1 hits, including 1985’s “The Power of Love,” featured in the classic movie “Back to the Future.” Tickets to the concert, which will be held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Wednesday, July 16, are free with your ANC registration, as long as you have indicated your intent to attend on the conference registration form. Need extra tickets? Whether you’re an exhibitor or simply want to bring a friend or guest, you can purchase these—as they remain available— for $125 on the ANC website. As you can see, there’s no shortage of reasons to attend the 2014 Annual National Conference in Boston, as it’s gearing up to be bigger and better than ever—in fact, it might be downright…well, historic. If you haven’t registered yet, don’t fret! You can register onsite at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. For more information about the exciting four days ahead of you, visit www.schoolnutrition.org/anc. Exploring BOSTON BOSTON is home to such historic icons as Faneuil Hall, the Bunker Hill Monument and the Paul Revere House. You could spend your entire trip to the Cradle of Liberty sightseeing, and still not make it everywhere—and you’ll be at ANC for much of your stay, of course! That’s why School Nutrition checked in with those who have spent plenty of time in Boston. We asked what tops their “must-visit” lists. Monica Titley-Smith, assistant director of food and nutrition services for Boston Public Schools, says that the must-see spot on her list is Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Because ANC falls during the week of the All-Star Game, being held in Minneapolis, Minn., there aren’t any home games to attend. However, for $16, you can take a public tour, available every hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you decide to extend your vacation, the Red Sox return to Boston on Friday, July 18, to take on the Kansas City Royals at 7:10 p.m. Titley-Smith also recommends the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a suggestion that President-Elect Julia Bauscher enthusiastically seconds. Here, you can learn more about the 35th president and his family, including permanent exhibits on the effect of television on the young politician’s tenure, the Space Race and First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Special exhibits during SNA’s time in Boston include “To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” You also should take some time to visit the North End, a Boston neighborhood known for its shopping and dining opportunities, particularly for Italian cuisine. Bauscher heartily recommends visiting Mike’s Pastry for a cannoli—they come in 17 flavors, ranging from traditional ricotta cheese to chocolate chip and peanut butter. For more ideas on where to visit in Boston, check out a video featuring SNA of Massachusetts members pointing out the highlights of the city; simply visit http://tinyurl. com/VideoANC14Travel. School Nutrition also has collected valuable visitor details of many of these locales as an online extra at www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazinebonuscontent. Of course, as in much of the country, Boston is likely to be hot and muggy during July, Titley-Smith warns. The average temperature is around 82 degrees, but you can expect the Convention Center to be much cooler. It seems the motto for ANC every year is “pack layers!” and 2014 is no different—a sweater, big scarf or light jacket might make you more comfortable during your education sessions. Some final advice from Titley-Smith: “Take in the city. If you’re coming to visit Boston, don’t just come to the conference. There’s a lot of rich history that you hear about, but you can actually see it and be in it.” BONUS WEB CONTENT Will Boston be your very first national conference? You’re in for a treat—many of them, in fact—but it can be a bit overwhelming. ANC veterans offer some targeted advice to newbies, and you’ll find this online as part of School Nutrition’s bonus content for this issue. Also, be sure to check out some additional Boston landmarks you’ll want to add to your Beantown tour in the evenings. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazinebonuscontent to access these extras. Kelsey Casselbury is associate editor of School Nutrition. ANC photos by EZ Event Photography. Boston photos courtesy of Jiunlimited, istock photo.com and Patricia Fitzgerald.
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