2019 School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference –What sessions should you attend?

Sorting through all the various sessions at the School Nutrition Association’s ANC19 can be overwhelming. The good news is that with more than 120+ education sessions, you can earn 12.5 CEUs or training hours for Professional Standards in the key areas of Nutrition, Operations, Administration or Communications & Marketing.

You’ll gain insights into the latest K-12 school food service trends, network with your school nutrition peers and see firsthand the latest services and food products specifically for school nutrition programs from more than 350 exhibitors.

So now you have to decide what sessions to attend. Good news, I can help make the tough decisions for you with a list of recommended sessions that as a Registered Dietitian, I find most helpful and informative!

Sunday’s Must-Sees at ANC19

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Buying Local Food on a Budget- Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

I believe buying local is not only a great way to support local businesses, but it also provides an educational opportunity to teach students about farming and what is locally grown in your state. I have also found that local farmers are often excited to connect with students and share what they grow. In this session, you will have the opportunity to learn practical and creative ways schools are sourcing local food on tight budgets.

10:45 AM – 12:15 AM
Students with Food Allergies: What Do They Really Want?

Food allergies are a hot topic these days- almost 1 in 13 children has one! I know managing food allergies is challenging, especially in the school cafeteria. There are many tools and resources to help you educate yourself and others, but allergic symptoms range widely depending on the severity (which also makes them difficult to detect). This session will help you learn how to accommodate the needs of these students and make them feel more comfortable in the cafeteria (which can also increase your program participation).

Bonus: Learn 101 additional ways to increase participation by downloading our whitepaper.

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Accommodating Special Diets

Working with students with special diets was always one my favorite parts of my job as a school nutrition dietitian. It was very rewarding to be able to put together a menu for a student that didn’t think they’d be able to eat in the cafeteria. Being able to plan a menu, understand a diet order, and work with students, parents, and teachers is an important, yet sometimes confusing part of working in school nutrition. This session will give you the opportunity to learn how to implement best practices in your cafeterias directly from recipients of a 2018 USDA Best Practice Award.

Monday’s Great Ideas

8:15 AM – 9:15 AM
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Hot Tips for Cutting Food Waste

Food waste is such a huge issue in cafeterias! I’ve watched students throw away whole pieces of fresh fruit, or toss out a full tray with only a few bites eaten. Not to mention, food waste has cost the nation’s schools billions of dollars over the past few decades. Finding ways to reduce waste from your students and in the kitchen can cut costs and decrease trash in the landfill. Join this session to learn the latest tips on keeping those healthy and delicious school meals you serve from going to waste in your cafeterias.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Food Fact vs. Fiction: Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Vegetarian – What is the Truth, and Why?

In my experience, I have found that most people struggle to understand popular diets. There is so much information in the media that it can be a daunting process trying to figure out what is exactly a nutrition fact or fiction. The knowledge you will gain by attending this session will help you plan different research-based meals as well as prepare you for discussions with students and parents about these diets.

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Perk up Participation with Coffee as part of a Reimbursable Meal

A rising trend I’ve seen among many schools is starting a coffee cart in order to increase milk sales and overall breakfast participation. Lots of students run by coffee shops in the morning to get coffee that is high calorie and full of sugar. Encouraging students to get smart snack compliant coffee from your cafeteria is not only healthier but can bring more students into your cafeteria. Whether you’re looking to start your own coffee stand or another grab-and-go breakfast program, this session will give insight on how to serve students a more nutritious coffee option conveniently located in your cafeterias.

Bonus: For more information on this rising trend, check out our blog post that highlights coffee carts & increasing your milk sales.

Tuesday’s Highlights

9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Meal or No Meal?

If your district or school is participating in the National School Lunch and/or Breakfast Program, this session is a must-attend. I know how challenging it can be to teach your cashiers to understand and quickly identify a reimbursable meal. But, the USDA has made it easier with everyone’s favorite game: Meal or No Meal? This session will also offer new USDA training and guidance materials to help simplify this process in a fast-paced cafeteria.

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
USDA Update

Directors and their staff have to deal with ever-changing regulations and legislation which is why this is another important session I think you should attend. You will hear directly from USDA representatives on the latest developments in child nutrition programs and research, as well as other departmental initiatives. I’ll be attending this session myself to learn about all the latest updates from the USDA.

3:45 PM – 4:45 PM
A Director’s Guide to S.L.A.Y. the Administrative Review (Back by Popular Demand #ANC18)

I know preparing for an administrative review can be overwhelming and intimidating. This session will give you the opportunity to hear from the directors that created the “Successful, Logical, Accurate, Yielding positive results” method (SLAY) to achieve successful Administrative Review. I’ll be attending this session to learn how to turn this process into an organized procedure and to check out the standard blueprint that will be provided.

There you have it! A summary of the top 3 sessions per day that I personally recommend you attend so you can bring back lots of ideas and best practices for how to create an even better nutrition program for your school.

Come say hello if you are attending ANC19! When I’m not listening to a session, I’ll be hanging out at our booth #2687. Stop by with questions or to just chat. I would love to meet you!