Opportunity Awaits! Get involved with ISNA this Spring.
SUMMIT s c hoo l Nutrition & Industry . I . S . N . A .
This 2-day event will once again focus on QUALITY professional development and networking to benefit BOTH school nutrition operators and our valued Industry Partners. June 15-16 Monroe County Convention Center Bloomington, IN
A block of rooms will be available for reservation at The Courtyard by Marriot
MAKE YOUR RESERVATION HERE
Make Your Reservation by May 3, 2023
CHECK HERE TO REGISTER AND VIEW AGENDA
FFT SPRING 2021
Your Guide to Procurement & Buy American
PLUS Professional Development Quiz!
SPRING 2023 EDITION
4 5 7 8
Letter From the President
Food for Thought Article/Adverstisement Submissions
National School Breakfast Week Photo Highlights PAGE 34
Mark Your Calendars
- Operations Research Committee
ISNA/IDOE Certificate Program Schedule
Legislative Action Conference Recap
12 14 20 24 38 39 40 41
ISNA Executive Board
Top 4 Reasons for Attending a National Conference - Nutrition Research Committee
LEAD to Succeed Overview
“Capturing Student Feedback”
- Comm. & Marketing Research Committee
PLUS Professional Development Quiz! PAGE 26
“5 Ideas to Reduce Unpaid Meal Debt”
“Kids Feeding Kids”
“Merrilville Schools Open Pirate Pantry”
“Golden Spatula Award”
All ISNA members are also proud members of the School Nutrition Association. SNA Office 2900 S. Quincy Street, Suite 700 Arlington VA 22206 Phone: (703)824-3000 FAX: (703)824-3015 www.schoolnutrition.org SNA Shop www.schoolnutrition.org/ sna-emporium Indiana SNA Office Cory Martin P.O. Box 915 Brownsburg, IN 46112 email@example.com
Food for Thought is published four times a year by the Indiana School Nutrition Association. Articles in Food for Thought represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy of the Indiana School Nutrition Association nor does acceptance of any advertisement imply endorsement of the product(s) or service(s). Copy deadline for the Spring Issue is June 20, 2023 Contributions are welcome from the members of ISNA and Industry Partners. Click Here to Submit an Article
PRESIDENT Christine Clarahan, MS, SNS, RDN School City of Hammond firstname.lastname@example.org PRESIDENT ELECT Courtney FitzSimons, RD, SNS West Lafayette Comm. School Corp. email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT Amanda Worrick South Madison Comm. Schools firstname.lastname@example.org SECRETARY/TREASURER Valarie Miller Center Grove Community School Corp.
Food for Thought is Designed by
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ASSOCIATION NEWS SPRING 2023
FROM YOUR president
As I write you all this letter it is the second day of my district’s Spring Break and I am finally feeling like I’m leaving the I’m-drowning-in-work-and-will-never-not-be-drowning- ever-again stage…and let me tell you – I was stuck in that phase for a loooooooong time! Every spring I marvel at how much of a difference the extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day makes, how refreshing it is to walk outside and see new flowers poking out of the ground, and new leaves sprouting on the trees. SNA’s Legislative Action Conference is perfectly placed right before Spring hits. Advocating for our future is a very inspiring feeling. While I am very anxious about how the USDA will finalize whatever nutrition standards are coming our way – it is a little weight off my shoulders to know that I (and hundreds of others) have taken action to make sure our voices are heard. As you start thinking about summer, don’t forget to register for our 3rd annual ISNA School Nutrition and Industry Summit that is happening June 15th & 16th in Bloomington!
ISNA President, 2022-2023 Christine Clarahan
Request to Join Today!
upcoming submission deadline:
JUNE 20, 2023
click here TO SUBMIT AN ARTICLE!
VIEW ARTICLE SUBMISSION SPECS HERE
click here TO SUBMIT AN AD! VIEW AD SUBMISSION SPECS HERE
2023 Submission Deadlines:
Attention ISNA Industry Gold and Silver Partners!
Summer Issue: June 20, 2023 Fall Issue: September 8, 2023
Silver and Gold partnerships include a quarter-page ad in every issue of Food for Thought! If you would like to upgrade to a half-page or full-page ad, please contact email@example.com
Research Committee Articles Each of the 4 research committees need to include a 10-question quiz with their article once a year according to the following schedule:
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MARK YOUR calendars!
ISNA School Nutrition & Industry Summit June 15-16, 2023, Bloomington, IN Click Here for more information
National Leadership Conference April 27-29, 2023, Louisville, KY Click Here for more information
SNA Annual National Conference July 9-11, 2023, Denver, CO Click Here for more information
School Lunch Hero Day May 5, 2023 Click Here for more information
Food for Thought Summer Issue Submission Deadline May 12, 2023 Submit Ads HERE Submit Articles HERE
SEE PAGE 9 FOR CERTIFICATE PROGRAM COURSE SCHEDULE!
Congratulations Silver Leadership Award Winner, Chrisine Clarahan!
CLICK HERE to learn more about FAME Awards!
Take the First Step Toward Your Future With the ISNA/IDOE School Nutrition Certificate Program
The Indiana School Nutrition Association and the Indiana Department of Education have joined forces to create a program that will add value to the School Nutrition Profession in the state of Indiana. The program is designed to be completed within two years and is comprised of 17 targeted courses. Meets USDA requirement for State Recognized Certificate Specific information on Indiana requirements Best practices for key functional areas
Marketed to School Superintendents and Business Officials as the certificate to look for when hiring. Networking with peers
“I would especially recommend [the ISNA/IDOE program] you will learn something new and get inspiration to take back and implement positive changes to your program! I appreciate the thought that went into planning the sessions to break things up into manageable chunks of learning material!” Amanda Worrick, Director of Child Nutrition Mississinewa Community Schools “This program is geared toward providing a new Food Service Director (or one that has been around for a while) the tools they need to be more efficient in their program. The material provided covers all areas needed to be more confident in making decisions. I have enjoyed [the program] and learned so much.” Betty Huddleston, Director of Food Services - Western Wayne Schools “I have to say, I was hesitant about taking the time out of my busy schedule to take the ISNA/IDOE certificate courses, but I’m so glad I did! I’ve been in my position for nearly 20 years and every time I take a session, regardless of the topic, I learn something new! The courses are beneficial for all Nutrition Services management positions and will meet their continuous learning and improvement goals. ” Vickie Coffey, Nutrition Services/Healthy Schools Director - RBB Edgewood Schools
For more information visit www.IndianaSNA.org
2023 ISNA/IDOE School Nutrition Certificate Program UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
LOCATION FOR ALL COURSES: Central Indiana Education Service Center 3500 Depauw Blvd #2020, Indianapolis, IN 46268
Program Enrollment Fee is $25/person Course Fees - $90/course for members, $130/course for nonmembers Advanced Menu Planning and Production Strategies 9:00am EST Creating and Implementing Your HACCP Plan 12:30pm EST December 6, 2023 In person
April 12, 2023 In person Financial Planning and Reporting 9:00am EST Procurement - Beyond the Basics 12:30pm EST
October 4, 2023 In person Marketing Your School Nutrition Program 9:00am EST Menu Planning Regulations and Concepts 12:30pm EST October 11, 2023 Virtual Program Accountability and Ethics 12:30pm EST
May 3, 2023 In person
School Nutrition Program Expense Basics 9:00am EST School Nutrition Program Revenue Basics 12:30pm EST
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
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2022-2023 executive board
Membership Chair Mary Ellen Gilliam, MBA MSD Wayne Township
Public Relations Chair Ashlee Lewis Southwest Allen Co. Schools
President Christine Clarahan, MS,SNS,RDN School City of Hammond
Legislative Chair Ben Driscoll SMART Sytems
Immediate Past President Stacie Light Warsaw Community Schools
President Elect Courtney FitzSimons, MA,RD,SNS West Lafayette Community Schools
Bylaws and Policy Chair Patrick Ryba-King School City of Hobart
State Agency Representative Ashley Heller Indiana Dept of Education
Vice President Amanda Worrick,DTR Mississinewa Community Schools
Industry Advisory Chair Christie White What’s 4 Lunch
Secretary/Treasurer Valarie Miller, RDN Center Grove Community School Corp.
Executive Director Cory Martin Mission Control HQ
Professional Development Co-Chair Amanda Stout, SNS Greenfield - Central Schools
Executive Director Team Calleigh Smith Mission Control HQ
Professional Development Co-Chair Vickie Coffey Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corp.
Professional Development Co-Chair Amanda Lambrechts, MS, RD, LN Perry Township
Financial Secretary Cheryl Speakman ISNA
Region 5 Representative Dana South Oak Hill United School Corporation Southwest Allen Co. Schools Region 4 Representative Ivan Balicky West Lafayette Community Schools Region 1 Representative Angelica Claiborne Merrillville Community School Corporation Region 2 Representative Sue Aikman New Prairie United School Corporation Region 3 Representative Ashlee Lewis Region 6 Representative Betty Huddleston Western Wayne Schools Region 7 Representative Erin Coleman Perry Township Schools Region Representative Chair/ Region 8 Representative Shenae Rowe, RDN Warrick County School Corp. Region 9 Representative Daniel Williams Mooresville Consolidated Schools
The mission of the Indiana School Nutrition Association is to provide education, programs, and services for members which promote quality child nutrition and to support the mission and values of the School Nutrition Association, Inc.
BY VICKIE COFFEY SNA LEAD TO SUCCEED TRAINER RBB EDGEWOOD SCHOOLS & TARRAH WESTERCAMP, MS, RDN, SNS SNA LEAD TO SUCCEED TRAINER WESTERCAMP CONSULTING
The School Nutrition Foundation’s LEAD to Succeed initiative provides training and workforce tools that have been developed specifically for school nutrition professionals seeking to Learn, Educate, Advance and Develop in the school nutrition field. LEAD to Succeed was made possible through a $2 million grant from the USDA and developed with a team from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business . The initiative addresses workforce development needs for school nutrition professionals in the areas of Personal Management and Communication, and Marketing and Customer Service. Thanks to the USDA grant, these high-caliber professional development tools are open to SNA members and non-members, and are available at no cost for all.
LEAD to Succeed Communication for Impact Series improves communication, marketing, and customer service skills and encompasses several learning modules including, Your Conflict Style Inventory, How are Your Listening Habits, Navigating Difficult Conversations, and many more. Training may be requested by state associations and state agencies. Reach out to ISNA or IDOE to get a training scheduled near you.
“The LEAD to Succeed workshop was an eye-opening experience, both personally and professionally. After the training, I find I am less reactive when communications don’t go the way I expected. I reflect and think about what I could have done differently. It has shown me options for responding that are new and different than my default modes of communication. Additionally, Vickie & Tarrah were excellent trainers. They were extremely professional, knowledgeable, and created a positive learning environment. From beginning to end, everything about LEAD to Succeed was fantastic!”
“LEAD to Succeed’s four leadership topics, conflict management, listening skills, leadership principles, and communication skills, are essential for today’s leaders.”
Matt Tomrell , Food Service Director Monroe County Community School Corporation
“Even with being in school foodservice for over 30 years, and a manager for 15+ years, the Lead to Succeed training made me stop and re-evaluate how I handle conflict and taking the time to listen to each staff member’s feelings about things that come up. When each person feels valuable and part of the team, they are more open to work through tough situations that arise.”
Becky Landes Food Service Operations Manager Manchester Community Schools
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Brenda Beverly, Elementary Cafeteria Manager Jac-Cen-Del Community Schools
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ISNA OPERATIONS RESEARCH COMMITTEE
Procurement & Buy American BY AMANDA STOUT, SNS DIRECTOR OF FOOD SERVICES GREENFIELD-CENTRAL COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION
Tis the season for procurement! As Indiana school nutrition programs wrap up the USDA Foods Annual Pre-order (Forecast) Survey, programs may now be turning attention toward procurement of other goods and services for the new school year. Because child nutrition programs receive large amounts of federal dollars annually, these programs are subject to federal procurement standards. Procurement is defined as the over-arching strategy to obtain goods and services. Obtaining the most economical purchase by looking at affordability, quality, market conditions, and ethics are all things to be considered as it promotes free and open competition. Government-wide procurement regulations are published in 2 CFR 200.318-326 and are available for program operators to access during any type of procurement conducted. School nutrition programs are required to have written procurement plans on file outlining purchasing thresholds, procurement methods and procedures for each level (formal or informal), as well as a written code of conduct. The procurement plan may also include committee information, and timelines for advertising. The school nutrition programs’ procurement plan will be reviewed by the State Agency during the Administrative and Procurement Review processes, which are done consecutively. Another key feature of the procurement plan includes writing in Buy American language.
The Buy American Act of 1933 requires the federal government to buy American–made iron, steel, and manufactured goods wherever possible. A product is defined as American– made under “Buy American” if over 51% of the final processed product (by weight or volume) consists of agricultural commodities grown domestically. The Buy American provision requirements were added as part of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 1998. Its goal is to support American agriculture and serve children nutritious meals. Within school nutrition programs, the Buy American provision applies to food only. There are limited exceptions to the Buy American provision. This allows for the purchase of foods not meeting the “domestic” standards in instances where the use of a domestic food is not practical. Two examples of this include 1. not enough quantities are produced in the USA of a specific food item, and 2. procurement efforts reveal a higher cost of the USA-produced food item than that of an item produced by foreign countries. During the on- site portion of an Administrative Review, the State Agency will perform a walk-through inspection and check product labels in dry, cooler, and frozen storage spaces to confirm Buy American compliance. You may also be asked to supply documentation from vendors and company representatives.
Here are a few tips to further assist with Buy American regulations within your local school nutrition program: • Just because a company is headquartered in the USA does not mean that all (or any) of its products comply with the Buy American requirements. • Remember that the definitions apply to the product and its processing. Read labels and other manufacturer’s documents carefully to identify the country of origin. If you are unsure, reach out to a company representative and ask. • Be cautious of labeling that says “processed/packed” in the USA versus “grown/produced.” • Be aware that product labels such as “USDA Approved” or “California- style” does not automatically mean the items are American-grown. • Review and update standard operating procedures (SOP) related to storage to include documenting domestic purchasing compliance. • As a best practice, communicate your Buy American questions with your IDOE field specialist. Resources: https://www.agc.org/industry-priorities/procurement/buy-american#:~:text=The%20Buy%20American%20Act%20of,materials%20 originated%20in%20the%20US. INDOE, https://www.in.gov/doe/nutrition/procurement/ Quiz CLICK HERE to take quiz online for 1 CEU! Professional Development
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ISNA COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING RESEARCH COMMITTEE
Capturing Student Feedback
BY AMANDA LAMBRECHTS, MS, RD ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF CHILD NUTRITION PERRY TOWNSHIP SCHOOLS
When it comes to planning a school nutrition menu, the tastes and preferences of your student population are some of the most important factors to consider. As you know, our food only provides good nutrition if the kids actually eat it. Gathering student feedback can ensure that you are nourishing young minds and not the garbage cans lining your cafeterias. Here are three ways you can gather feedback from your customers — the students.
Sampling food products with students is one of the best ways to gather feedback on the spot. There are a couple of ways you can approach a student sampling. First, you can order special items and serve them in small cups with your already scheduled menu items on the serving line. This is a simple way to let the kids try a small taste of a potential new item. A second option is to invite a vendor to your school to serve samples in the cafeteria. This helps build relationships with industry representatives while also taking some of the burden off of your kitchen staff. Additionally, since the brokers are the experts on the products, they can help provide students with a more detailed background on the products you are testing. A third option is to switch up your menu and trial the product as a special menu item for the day. Instead of making samples in addition to your scheduled menu items, replacing them with the sample allows students to try a full portion of the Student Samplings
food products. Substituting a menu item with your sample also allows for a shorter-staffed kitchen to sample foods without creating additional work outside of the regular menued food. Once you have selected how you will be distributing the samples, you will need to determine how you will collect data. A simple way to gather feedback is by designating one trash can near the sampling as a “like” bin and another as a “dislike” bin. At the end of your meal service, you can visually see how the food was received by looking at each trash can’s consistency. If you want more detailed feedback from older students, you can also invite students to participate in a brief survey. If cell phones are allowed at the school, you can create fliers with QR codes for students to scan immediately. A free and easy way to make surveys is by using Google Forms which can populate results into a spreadsheet.
Speaking with Classes
In addition to student sampling surveys, you can also send out more comprehensive surveys. While sampling surveys capture feedback on a specific food item, a longer survey can gather more detailed information about the types of foods students desire. You might consider first having students evaluate the current menu. They can choose both their favorite and least favorite entrees. This will allow you to determine which items you may want to replace with newer items. Next, you can provide a list of food items you are considering putting on a future menu and allow students to vote on which ones are desirable to them. Finally, make sure you allow room for students to type in their own requests and ideas for menu items. Student Surveys
A final option for capturing student feedback is to visit with classes in person. At the secondary level, there may be some health and wellness classes that you can reach out to and speak with. Not only will this allow you to gather feedback on student preferences, but it will also allow you to educate on the programs your district offers. Often students do not understand the intricacies of the school lunch and breakfast requirements. Providing students with more background information can also make it easier for students to understand why certain entrees and sides are more feasible for schools than others. Meeting face-to-face with students also gives you the opportunity to build relationships with students. Students want to be heard and providing a forum for students to voice their desires helps build their autonomy. There is no single form of gathering student feedback that is better than the other. Often there are multiple ways school nutrition departments can gather information. However you choose to gather student feedback, hearing the voices of your student body is invaluable in creating a more positive dining experience.
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5 Ideas to Reduce Unpaid Meal Debt in Your District
BY SAMANTHA MURILLO FORMER STATE AGENCY CONSULTANT & PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER LINQ
Since the end of the federal waiver for school meals, districts have reported growing levels of unpaid meal debt. According to a nationwide survey from the School Nutrition Association, current unpaid meal debt stands at $19.2 million. If your district is facing this challenge, here are five ideas that may help. 1. PARTNER WITH YOUR PTA Your PTA is a valuable resource for helping to raise funds. Leveraging the PTA and other community relationships to create a contribution fund can help pay down unpaid lunch debt throughout the school year. 2. INVEST IN THE RIGHT NUTRITION SOFTWARE Your nutrition software can be instrumental in collecting contributions to fund school meals— including providing an easy way for the school community to support students in need of nutritious meals. Check if your nutrition program has a feature that allows families to contribute additional funds to Feed It Forward. If your current nutrition software doesn’t include that feature, consider creating an optional “Feed It Forward Fund Fee” through your payment platform. 3. CONDUCT DIRECT CERTIFICATION THROUGHOUT THE YEAR Run direct certification throughout the year to identify any students who have become eligible
for school meals. Direct certification is the process of certifying students eligible for free meals based on participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). 4. GET CREATIVE WITH COLLECTING MEAL APPLICATIONS Find creative ways to encourage families to apply for free and reduced-price lunches. Include reminders for how to submit meal applications in weekly newsletters. Set up stations during parent- teacher conferences to answer questions. The greater the outreach, the higher the likelihood you can identify those students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. 5. REEVALUATE YOUR NUTRITION OPERATIONS Consider your current school meal operations. Your district may be eligible to participate in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP). CEP allows participating schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students for a 4-year period. To qualify, you must have a minimum Identified Student Percentage greater than or equal to 40 percent. The Identified Student Percentage is the portion of students certified for free meals without the use of household applications.
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ISNA NUTRITION RESEARCH COMMITTEE
Top 4 Reasons for Attending a National Conference
A recent attendee’s experience at SNA’s School Nutrition Industry Conference.
BY KAYLA MCDANIEL, MS, NDTR K12 SALES SPECIALIST MENULOGIC K12
Have you ever experienced the vibrations of inspired energy from those surrounding you? Every room at the School Nutrition Industry Conference in San Diego, CA in January felt like this. The logistical gods were against me attending — but it was important to me to make it work. The conference marked the sixth week of my maternity leave and being thousands of miles away from my newborn for a week was something I couldn’t even begin
everyone is used to and reinvents the “Fourth Option.” You better believe I went right to buy his books for more inspiration! The schedule at this conference is packed with high-quality breakouts and specialized sessions with a targeted purpose. Hot Topics Sessions and District-Size Specific brainstorming sessions allowed you to get in a room buzzing with knowledge and bounce things off your peers. There were also USDA Listening Sessions scheduled: one for industry and one for operators. These can be a bit intense as burning issues and concerns are addressed head- on. But it can also be pretty therapeutic and validating hearing that you’re not the only one experiencing the challenges on your plate, and it feels good to have the USDA as the sounding board. In the Innovative Solution Sessions, attendees have the opportunity to hear a 60-minute presentation from companies that are thinking outside the box as they present to you new products and relevant solutions. These sessions offer an incredible opportunity to learn about a company at a deeper level. Not only can you learn about the actual product or service, but understand the backstory and real-world applications for your program. Live Q&A engages
to fathom. I did not want to miss this conference. In my mind, I could not. What is it about SNIC that lured me across the country with a few weeks remaining on my maternity leave and my six- week-old baby in tow? Opportunity for Inspiration, Problem Solving & Collaboration
As a pre-conference opportunity, a tour of San Diego Unified School District operations was offered along with a delicious meal prepared by their incredibly talented chef, Chef Juan Zamorano, and his team. The keynote speaker, Kaihan Krippendorff blew me away and his session was the talk of the crowd from day one. He presented that true innovation occurs when someone shakes up the norm by stepping outside the same three options
perspectives from small and large districts to generate brainstorming and creative problem- solving. As a participant, it was such a rush to engage with highly intelligent, forward-thinking attendees. Whether you’re an operator or an industry partner, it is so invigorating to unite within the passion, purpose, and organizational goals that help grow and develop school nutrition programs. Continuing the conversation, Vendor Tabletop Showcase offered more engagement on a one-on-one basis. SNIC is known as the most collaborative national SNA conference of the year. Industry and program operators come together to seek solutions to the relevant challenges experienced day in and day out. Of course opportunities for this type of collaboration are at state events, but there’s something even more magical to experience at the national level. National conferences are also a great place to get ideas to take back with you for those state conferences! Opportunity for Personal Growth Not every organization affords the opportunity to attend national conferences. Do your research and justify your participation if you find yourself in this scenario. Thanks to the unexpected change last year in my career trajectory, I was not only able to attend SNIC 2023, but to also attend as a presenter! If you feel that there is a topic you are passionate about and feel led to lead a conversation, I urge you to submit a proposal for your own session. One great way of supporting attendance is by being a presenter yourself. Personally, by stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing past the symptoms of imposter syndrome, this conference signified an exciting achievement in my career an opportunity for even more growth thereafter. A personal goal of mine is to pass the SNS exam and add the credential to the alphabet soup at the end of my name. Prior to SNIC during the pre- con day, the SNS exam is offered. Usually, this test
is offered at your state conferences as well. Also don’t forget that attendance at these conferences and participation in the sessions is an opportunity for you to earn your continued education credits, as required by the FNS Professional Standards. Opportunity for Adventure If it’s in the budget, this could be a great adventure and team bonding experience for your work family as well. The bond between a director and their administrative or supervisory team could strengthen exponentially following attendance together. The memories formed during your travels together carry on and strengthen your relationship, bringing you closer as a unit upon return to the homefront. Session rooms are buzzing with inspiration and the peer pressure of passion will undoubtedly influence the most disinterested team member in all the best ways. My mother ended up accompanying me to San Diego to help me with my son. Their attendance was an out-of-pocket expense that I chose to make in order to grow personally and professionally. I’m incredibly grateful that she was able to be there with me. Let’s be real, though - it wasn’t too hard to convince her to let me “drag” her oceanside and “make” her cuddle her new grandbaby while I worked. During the day she hung out in the hotel room and every 2-3 hours met me in the lobby when the baby needed to feed. It’s not ideal to have familial obligations during any conference. The reality is that you might be forced to choose between spending time with your family or travel buddies and actually attending sessions or networking opportunities outside of the conference schedule. But, if I didn’t have the blessing to have them tag along, I wouldn’t have been able to entertain the possibility of attendance at all. Opportunity for Community & Friendship
It’s pretty incredible to think about the fact that you literally have something in common with the hundreds of attendees sitting at the tables in each session at SNIC. The extroverted introvert I am loves to make new friends from all over the country at these conferences — but is shaking in my boots as I approach them. I usually pick a table in a session where there’s an empty seat or two in between each person. I’ve found this usually means each individual is from a different place. There’s no icebreaker necessary when we are all there to learn how to raise the bar on school nutrition. By the time we’ve learned each other’s names and where we are from, the session starts. The next thing you know, the speaker gives a mic drop moment and you and your new friends are enthusiastically saying amen, nodding (or maybe even clapping!) in unison. I love connecting on LinkedIn with my new friends in the industry. Staying connected allows for a resource outside my community with generally a much different perspective and set of experience to call on when I need council. Additionally, I’m always sure to “like and follow” their business or district Facebook and Instagram pages. Not only are these great ways to stay in touch, but I find that this is the best way to support my friends in the things they are doing in their stomping grounds, and they usually do the same for me as well! I’ve found that as I make more friends outside of my home state, I’ve really looked forward to the next opportunity I’ll get to see them at the next national conference.
Going into day one, I was out of practice forming full sentences and dangerously behind on proper sleep. I hope that sharing my personal experience attending SNIC this year presents some inspiration to reflect on the barriers that you perceive to be holding you back and consider creative ways to make it happen! Leaving San Diego, I felt reignited and anxious for my return to the grind. There was a fresh beat to the pulse of the school nutrition community and a taste of “innovation” in the air. Next year SNIC will be in Orlando, Florida on January 14-16, 2024. Mark your calendars now and start thinking about how you’re going to get there! Trust me, it’s an experience you can’t miss. Resources: https://schoolnutrition.org/careers-training/certificate-credentialing/ credentialing/ https://www.fns.usda.gov/cn/professional-standards Quiz CLICK HERE to take quiz online for 1 CEU! Professional Development
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LEGISLATIVE ACTION CONFERENCE MARCH 2023
SNA’s 51st Annual Conference took place March 5-7 in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Nearly 800 school nutrition professionals, industry partners, and various other supporters from around the country came together to advocate for what they care most about, our children. Besides the seasoned veterans of LAC, an eager group of first- timers joined the fight. After I became a member of ISNA, I quickly became more aware of challenges in the school nutrition world beyond my daily job at West Lafayette Community Schools. So, when the opportunity arose to run for Region 4 Representative, I saw my chance to get more involved. As a member of ISNA’s executive board, I was eligible to apply for an LAC scholarship. I was definitely intimidated by the importance and magnitude of this conference. However, according to my peers it was the place to be, so I applied and eventually received the honor. After landing in D.C., I and 2 of my fellow school nutrition colleagues were welcomed by pleasant weather and a great feel of the capital. As the day went by, we met with the majority of our We won’t stop till we get what we want!
BY IVAN BALICKY ASSIST. FOOD SERVICE DIRECTOR ISNA REGION 4 REP. WEST LAFAYETTE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
Indiana team. It felt comforting to recognize familiar faces far away from home. Everyone was excited and looking forward to the conference. The opening session clearly set the tone of what was at stake. After almost 3 years of the pandemic, ongoing acute supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and inflation pressures, our job has become more difficult than ever before. School meal programs have always operated on extremely tight financial and human resources. Overly complex federal regulations divert those resources from the one mission above all, to serve students. SNA’s 2023 Position Paper summarized the challenges we were presenting to Congress. I and 800 more people at the conference felt immense urgency as critical pieces of legislation were about to expire or be placed in effect in the very near future, neither instance benefiting our nation’s kids. After two days of awesome speakers, inspiring stories, and a lot of preparation, the time had come to “Charge the Hill.” I had heard that line several times before; now I was about to join. Led by our fearless captain Ben Driscoll, our Indiana team did just that. Our passionate and dedicated group met with our elected officials or in most cases,
their staff. We shared our stories, challenges, and burdens. We kindly asked for their support. Being realistic, we emphasized what we thought was most reasonable to ask for… We are yet to see what is to come. Hill visits with our Indiana legislators did not feel very encouraging. It was very eye-opening. As a first-generation immigrant, I tend to observe and compare what I saw growing up to what we do in the States. One would think, school meals are just a great thing all around the world and no one would have any issue supporting them. Surely not in a country as big, powerful, and resourceful as the USA. In reality, support for school meal programs has become a partisan and polarizing topic. The recent success of passing universal free meals in California and Colorado gives us hope for the future. A handful of other states are in the process of getting there. Our Indiana team returned home full of ideas on where to go from here. Ultimately, we will keep fighting for our children. All we want is to feed our kids. Just let us do it. We won’t stop till we get what we want!
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National School Breakfast Week 2023 HIGHLIGHTS
Students at Jefferson Elementary School Hammond, Indiana
Student at Hess Elementary School in Hammond, Indiana
A student from Wallace Elementary School in Hammond, Indiana.
O’Bannon Elementary School in Hammond Indiana has the Breakfast Crew out including the school’s principal!
Students at Irving Elementary School in Hammond Indiana (School City of Hammond)
Jane Ball Elementary School Students in Cedar Lake Indiana (Hanover Community School Corporation)
Merrillville Community School Corporation’s Director of Food Service - Angelica Claiborne - hosted Dr. Vista Fletcher - the USDA Midwest Region Administrator!
Beautiful display at LaPorte Community Schools
Students at Jefferson Elementary School Hammond, Indiana
AWESOME display at Merrillville Community School Corporation
Superintendent of School City of Hammond joins in as a Special Guest Server at O’Bannon Elementary School.
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