Champions on the Charge S Keynote Speaker Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning Presidential Historian Some might consider it a good omen for positive legislative and regu-latory support in the coming months. For the ﬁ rst time, SNA’s annual Legislative Action Conference (LAC) coincided with the peak bloom of Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms. This was despite over-warm temps in February aggravated by a late snow/freeze in March that had most bloom-watchers initially predicting a peak that would precede LAC by a week, then warning that the buds might fail to reveal their full, breathtaking glory at all. So, while there is a great deal of anx-iety about how school nutrition programs may be affected by changes in the Administration and Congress, advocates can, perhaps, have faith. Of course that faith is not just placed in meteorological augurs (although that doesn’t hurt), but in the power of the evidence-based success of school meals, the long history of bipartisan support for these programs and the grassroots passion of school nutrition professionals telling their stories. A record-setting 944 attendees came together April 2-4, to tell those stories to their lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Before charging the Hill, LAC participants were fortiﬁ ed by fresh ideas and inspiration offered in breakout sessions; strategic plans for congressional visits by state delegations; and the compelling advice and insights of several general session speakers and panelists afﬁ rming the power of SNA and its members. “The nobility of [what you do] will be recognized by the left, right and center,” noted Fireside Chat panelist Chuck Connor, former deputy of agriculture. “Thank you,” Keynote Speaker Jon Meacham said to those assembled. “You fulﬁ ll what is the baseline of civilization. You feed the hungry and protect the defense-less. There is no greater measure of a civilization than that.” Mingling with cherry blossom-seeking tourists, hundreds of school nutrition advocates traversed miles of Capitol Hill hallways to share ﬁ rsthand accounts of school meal success. FIRESIDE CHAT PHOTOS BY RICK BRADY 44 | SN | May 2017 (l-r) Former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner, Former U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, Moderator Philip Brasher, Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Former U.S. Senate staffer William Hoagland brought extensive bipartisan experience and insight to a “Fireside Chat” panel presentation.