By Patricia L. Fitzgerald 2014-06-13 17:47:49
To Give Is To Receive Why contribute to SNA’s School Nutrition Foundation? We count the ways in this special donor spotlight. When budgets are tight, maybe you are wondering if you can afford to give to the School Nutrition Foundation (SNF). Of course, when school meal program operations grow increasingly complex, can you afford not to? SNA’s sister organization has a 50-year record of establishing sustained funding for many valuable programs, from scholarships that allow SNA members to reach their academic and professional development goals to technical assistance to boost breakfast program participation through in-classroom service and much more. School Nutrition reached out to four individuals who have demonstrated steadfast support of the Foundation through personal and organizational contributions, asking for their reflections on the value of their donations. Dorothy Caldwell “I’m convinced that the Foundation can play an extraordinary role in helping our members make continuous improvement.” That’s the SNA past president’s “short answer” explaining her longstanding support of SNF with not only her “treasure,” but her time and talent, as well. The “long” answer reflects Caldwell’s passion for a profession that she continues to champion long into retirement—and one that deservedly earned her designation earlier this year as a “School Nutrition Hero” at SNF’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Caldwell, who led the Association in 1993-94, has held several positions in the Arkansas and North Carolina state agencies, as well as serving as deputy administrator for special nutrition programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. Her personal affinity for SNF stretches back to her first term on the Association’s Executive Board as Southwest regional director. One of the highlights of that year’s Annual National Conference (ANC) was the presentation of a $50,000 check by Tony’s Pizza (now Schwan’s Food Service) to fund scholarships that would be awarded through the Foundation. She was impressed then—and remains impressed now—by the company’s ongoing commitment, as those $50,000 checks still come each year. Indeed, it’s corporate donations like these that convince Caldwell of the value of individual member contributions. “Members cannot, by ourselves, support a Foundation large enough to meet our needs. We need big bucks that can come not only from industry, but also from groups that have a strong interest in children’s health and education and see school nutrition as important to their cause. Such groups are much more likely to make major contributions to the School Nutrition Foundation if a large number of our own members support it with whatever level of giving we can afford,” explains Caldwell. “Numbers of members supporting the Foundation are more important than the amounts contributed when potential partners look at us as potential [grant recipients].” She is not content to merely make her own financial contributions to SNF, but steps up to personally lead a charge in proselytizing that value of individual support, particularly among other SNA pioneers. Serving as president of this Association is, Caldwell says, “a real gift. It requires hours and hours of time, lack of sleep and weekends away from family—but the rewards are enormous. Every SNA president grows professionally, makes new long-lasting friendships and finds joy in seeing her colleagues and the Association grow. Supporting the Foundation is one way to pay back—or, as many say, ‘pay it forward,’ so others also may grow.” It’s not just past presidents that Caldwell seeks to inspire. “We all gain from participation in our professional association—and we can be a part of making the profession even more successful in the future,” she notes. “We need dimes, dollars and thousands of dollars. We need individuals, local and state associations, industry and other corporate partners to join together to ensure that SNF’s next 50 years gets a jumpstart and is even more successful than its first 50 years.” Ami Childers/PepsiCo Even for the healthiest organizations, budgets are tight. Nonetheless, vendor partners like PepsiCo continue to make financial support of SNF a priority for their corporate donations. Why? After all, such companies typically support SNA and its members through advertising, exhibiting and sponsorship. What is it about the Foundation that inspires this extra step in giving? Ami Childers, senior education strategy manager for PepsiCo, is in a unique position to explain, as she not only has represented the company on SNF’s Board of Directors since 2012, but also writes personal checks in support of SNF. First, of course, there’s PepsiCo’s commitment. “We, as an organization, are focused on supporting nutrition not only in the United States, but globally, as well,” Childers notes. Then, there’s the company’s specific support of the Foundation, which has taken many forms; among the most recent is a two-year sponsorship of the ANC First-Timers Scholarship. “SNF supports insights and trend analysis that are critical to the future of school nutrition,” explains Childers of the company’s fiscal contributions, pointing to benefits that companies like hers can gain. “We have limited funds assigned to school research data, so [the results of various Foundation-supported projects can help] to better understand the K-12 channel and the trends. A great example is the usefulness of the data in the recent Breakfast in the Classroom project.” Childers and her employer also see the benefits that SNF provides to SNA’s members—which then help to raise the entire profession. She admits that she didn’t always understand the distinct roles between SNA and SNF, but now realizes how contributions to the Foundation help to provide sustained funding for critical programs that drive education, innovation and “new thinking.” Her experience serving on the SNF Board has opened her eyes to the passion that school nutrition inspires. “It encourages you to think less of yourself—or the product you sell—and more about the needs of our children,” she notes. After all, she continues, “We have all been touched by school foodservice—we’ve been a student, we have a student or we know a student.” It’s why she goes beyond simply directing PepsiCo’s involvement, and donates both her time on the SNF Board and her own personal dollars. With four children who enjoy school meals, “I am very committed to support school foodservice, to not only feed my children, but offer all children the opportunity for good nutritional meals that help prepare them for success,” she explains. Childers encourages School Nutrition readers to think of the future and the role SNF will continue to play in supporting education and innovation in school nutrition. Both individuals and organizations can make a tremendous difference and “stamp their footprint on that future,” she notes. “Whether the contribution is big or small, it all paves the way for our kids to be successful—one nutritious meal at a time.” Susan Cheshire/Georgia School Nutrition Association Without devoting hours perusing old budget books, it’s impossible for Susan Cheshire, CAE, executive director of the Georgia School Nutrition Association (GSNA), to summarize briefly and accurately the full extent of the state affiliate’s contribution to SNF over the years. A $75,000 10-year pledge here, a $2,000 Anniversary Celebration table there, a $2,500 (“I think”) contribution to the Josephine Martin Endowment, other campaigns related to childhood hunger….well, suffice it to say that GSNA’s support of SNF has been generous and steady over the years. “Well, gosh, where would we all be without SNF supporting, encouraging, training and leading our members to constantly seek the best in feeding our school children? SNF has done a tremendous job,” Cheshire notes, citing a number of SNF-supported training programs and such initiatives as the Nineties-era Invest in US endowment campaign, which still funds SNA public awareness efforts today. “It’s clear that our leadership in Georgia— and the industry partners who support our own programs—feel very strongly about the tie between our current programs and the past leadership of SNA, which has contributed to a strong school nutrition program in the United States,” says Cheshire, explaining why so many of GSNA’s gifts have been made in honor of several school nutrition pioneers. “We are fortunate to actually have [SNA Past Presidents] Josephine Martin, Mary Nix and Nancy Rice still active in our state—their presence is a constant source of pride for us, and a reminder to keep our commitment to feeding hungry children strong.” Indeed, state affiliates can leverage the innovative spirit of those who blazed the school nutrition trail as a way to spur on the next generation. “The inspiration of our past leaders is just like a magnet for our members to follow in their footsteps,” asserts Cheshire. By making a financial contribution to SNF in recognition of those who came before, state associations have a “visible and concrete way to keep the achievements of the past alive in our hearts and minds—and to encourage us to keep up the good work at the local level.” Plus, she adds, making these contributions at the national level to SNF “allows us to have a greater impact in many ways than if we tried to use the money only at our state level.” SNA/SNF provides greater bang for the buck, so to speak, offering greater reach, multiplied benefits and greater magnification of the impact of past leaders, Cheshire explains. Tom Ferris/AdvancePierre Foods “Companies that touch and influence the lives of children, especially through the school environment, have added responsibilities. Giving to SNF is a commitment to the ideals of the organization,” explains Tom Ferris, vice president, school foodservice at AdvancePierre Foods, about why his company makes it a priority to support SNF (“an important partner in our efforts”) above and beyond its other activities with SNA, including advertising and exhibiting. Ferris and his colleagues recognize SNF’s long record of success. “The work of SNF has always been important,” Ferris notes. “The role schools play in ensuring children are fed is continually evolving, and it’s essential that school nutrition professionals and the companies they partner with understand the trends.” He points to the value of SNA research that, for example, tracks the growth in school breakfast programs. “These insights are very valuable and enable AdvancePierre to listen and respond to what’s happening. … Our alignment with SNA/SNF makes us a better resource and innovator.” Support of SNF is a natural for this company, which considers itself “big believers in collaboration,” asserts Ferris. Industry partnerships are vital to establishing a solid “foundation” of support for organizations like SNF. “[SNA/SNF]’s ideals are in lockstep with the ideals of our company and—quite literally—the success in our collective future,” he continues. “Feeding children and teaching them how to make healthy meal choices as they grow is critical to their future success and happiness. School nutrition is more than just a ‘business’ to AdvancePierre Foods, and our support of SNF and SNA champions the empowerment of kids.” Donate Today Since its founding in 1964, SNA’s sister organization, the School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) has raised millions of dollars to provide a wide variety of scholarships, grants, research, training opportunities and technical assistance to school nutrition professionals at every level. For the last 50 years, every dollar donated to SNF has made a difference. Please consider making your contribution today. Whether it’s $50 in honor of a school nutrition pioneer or a $5,000 bequest in your will, your gift is truly appreciated and will be put to good use. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/snf on your computer or mobile device to show your support! Giving in Action SNF 50th Anniversary Celebration The School Nutrition Foundation thanks the following organizations for their financial support of SNF’s 50th Anniversary Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes in March 2014. INNOVATOR • Tyson Foods, Inc. LEADERS • AccuTemp Products, Inc. • Foster Farms Foodservice • Land O’ Lakes Dairy Foods • Mott’s • National Dairy Council • School Nutrition Association • Schwan’s Food Service RED CARPET • Duke Manufacturing CHAMPION • KeyImpact Sales & Systems SUPPORTER • AdvancePierre Foods • ConAgra Foodservice & Lamb Weston • HOPCO Foodservice • J & J Snack Foods • Los Cabos Mexican Foods • PepsiCo Foodservice BONUS WEB CONTENT SNA Past President and SNF School Nutrition Hero Award Winner Dorothy Caldwell continues to inspire with her passion for school nutrition—and for the role that SNF plays in supporting SNA and its members. Read more of her reflections online at www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazinebonuscontent. Patricia Fitzgerald is editor of School Nutrition.
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