What We Learned at SNIC 2019
Last week four of our team members headed out to Austin, TX for the 2019 School Nutrition Industry Conference. This year’s theme was The Business of School Nutrition: Strategy-Vision-Growth. There were 3 days of learning about innovative approaches to help build the future of school nutrition. At Meals Plus, our team is dedicated to staying current on trends so we can deliver innovative products to better serve you and your students. Here are some of the things we learned that we’re taking from Austin back to the Meals Plus Team!
Opportunity Through Change
With the child nutrition industry rapidly changing, and Meals Plus beginning to go through some changes itself, Vice President of Meals Plus, Jeff Flynn was intrigued by the keynote presentation by Daniel Burrus, Turning Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage. “It gave me a different perspective of our product planning challenges and what customer operational areas to observe opportunities for transforming our product and service offerings as opposed to just changing,” said Jeff.
Promoting to Today’s Students
A hot topic this year is how to satisfy the modern student. In sessions such as It’s Your Business! #KidsToday: What Do They Want, we learned from food service trends expert Maeve Webster about what kids want and demand from restaurants and retail experiences and how we can meet those needs in the lunchroom. Jeff noted the growth in competition for school kid’s money. “Each year school nutrition must ‘up its game’ to win their students’ business,” said Jeff.
We also got to see program promotion first hand, getting to go offsite to visit Austin ISD. This hands-on experience was a standout for Texas-based Account Executive, Heather Valdez. To her, it was valuable to see how real districts work with parents, teachers, and business owners to increase participation. She also noticed that this year there was an increase in demand for technology such as Online Ordering in order to satisfy Generation Z students.
Innovating and Transforming
When talking about their biggest takeaways from SNIC 2019, Jeff and Heather both mentioned transforming school nutrition. After her first time attending SNIC, Heather was inspired to continue to challenge herself to study industry trends. “From that, we can identify opportunities to innovate and transform,” she said.
As a long time annual attendee Jeff resonated with this year’s theme, “This is what EMS LINQ is focused on not only for school nutrition but for school districts as a whole. We’re partnering with our customers to strengthen their businesses. Our customers’ business success is our business success.” Looking ahead, Jeff said, “if our company continues to focus on knowing customer’s business deeply and concentrates on transformational solutions, we will be successful.”
If you didn’t get the chance to attend SNIC 2019, it’s a great opportunity to network with other districts and vendors to learn about the innovative things they’re doing. Jeff said that his favorite part of SNIC every year is “meeting people who are genuinely interested in supporting kids and dedicated to helping the industry continue to evolve in that pursuit.”
Want to learn about the exciting innovations Meals Plus and our partners are serving up? Check out our regional user conferences at LINQuest 2019 in Anaheim, Houston, Charlotte, and Columbus. Click here to learn more about LINQuest 2019. Registration is now open!