VOLUME 59, ISSUE 4 SUMMER 2022
your why Remembering
ISNA Annual Conference PREVIEW 2022
2022 School Nutrition & Industry Summit RECAP
CALLING ALL contributors!
Hey ISNA Members and ISNA Industry Partners!
Do you have something you want to share with your Indiana school nutrition community? We want to hear from you! Submit an article to be considered for Food for Thought, by following the guidelines below.
Things to remember when writing an article Article Submission Requirements Articles can include pictures, videos/audio, and written word. For the best-looking article layouts, your written content length should be as follows:
2022 Submission Deadlines Summer Issue: May 13, 2022 Fall Issue: August 12, 2022 Winter Issue: November 18, 2022 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:
400-450 words for single page articles 800-900 words for a spread
Videos should be submitted in MP4 format or a link provided if already uploaded to either Vimeo or YouTube. Please note your privacy settings must be set to public in order to use. You may embed photos into your document, but please upload the photos to the submission form separately as well. All written content should be submitted as Word or Google docs (no pdfs please)
Summer 2022: Comm. & Marketing Fall 2022: Administration Winter 2022-23: Nutrition Spring 2023: Operations
click here TO SUBMIT YOUR ARTICLE!
DESIGN QUESTIONS: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTENT QUESTIONS: email@example.com
2022 isna annual conference PREVIEW PAGE 14
SUMMER 2022 EDITION
4 6 6 8 10 12 32 33 36 37 38 43 44
Letter From the President
Mark Your Calendars
2022 sna/isna award winners PAGE 16 LAC: is it worth the investment? PAGE 24
Social Media Post Inspiration
ISNA/IDOE Certificate Program Schedule
One Member’s Journey to Career Advancement via the ISNA/IDOE Certificate Program
destination: leadership NLC 2022 RECAP PAGE 20
ISNA Executive Board
Traveling Chef: Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits Through Promotions
A Letter to Our Heroes
building the future for our profession by becoming a preceptor - Nutrition Research
Hometown Grant is Open!
SNA Training Zone: Back to School Webinars
2022 school nutrition & industry summit RECAP
State Agency Happenings
Standardized Recipe Exchange
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 Sheri Shipp, RD P.O. Box 915 Brownsburg, IN 46112 (317) 852-1985 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Fall Issue is August 12, 2022. Contributions are welcome from the members of ISNA and Industry Partners. Email articles to email@example.com.
PRESIDENT Stacie Light
Warsaw Community Schools firstname.lastname@example.org PRESIDENT ELECT Christine Clarahan, MS, SNS, RDN School City of Hammond email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT Courtney FitzSimons, RD, SNS West Lafayette Comm. School Corp. firstname.lastname@example.org SECRETARY/TREASURER Valarie Miller Center Grove Community School Corp. email@example.com IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Leeanne Koeneman Northwest Allen County Schools firstname.lastname@example.org
Food for Thought is Designed by
FROM YOUR president
It is hard to believe that another school year has ended and we are in the full swing of warmer weather. For me, it seemed like the warmer weather took a long time to get here – but once here, it was warm very quickly. I want to keep this note short; as I am sure, you have some sunshine to get to. With the end of the school year, I hope you are able to reflect on this past school year and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Once again, Indiana School Nutrition Professionals handled this year with grace, fortitude, resilience, and creativity. Simply put, YOU are amazing! Thank you for feeding our future with passion, purpose, and excitement. With summer, ISNA does not slow down. The Professional Development team and committees are in full swing to bring amazing opportunities to all members for the next year. The 2022 School Nutrition Industry Summit in June was another success! Keynote speaker, Kim Stroebel provided some real talk and momentum to keep moving us forward. Peer sharing sessions, IDOE updates, and reconnecting with our industry partners ignited some excitement. Take a look at the Upcoming Events on our ISNA web page. Here you will find Director Certificate Program courses are already scheduled in October and December, with more to follow. Our Professional Development team, ISNA Executive Director, and research committee chairs are outstanding and they strive to provide top-notch education for members. I cannot wait to see what is in the works for our Annual Conference in November! It is sure to be exciting. I challenge you to find an outlet that helps you reset, recharge, renew, and get excited for the upcoming year. I hope that during the summer break, you were able to take either a day, week, or month for yourself to recharge, reconnect, and hit that reset button. For the last year, I have been making it a point to meditate daily in order to keep my sanity. Some days it may only be 10 minutes, other days it takes 45 minutes. It is a time for me to slow down but not stand still. We must take care of ourselves, while taking care of others. This summer, I challenge you to find an outlet that helps you reset, recharge, renew, and get excited for the upcoming year.
ISNA President, 2021-2022
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MARK YOUR calendars!
SNS Exam November 9, 2022 • 8:00am EST Indianapolis Marriott East 7202 East 21st St, Indianapolis, IN 46219
ISNA Annual Conference Call for Sessions! August 2-August 23, 2022
Registration information and link to come! For more information about the SNS Credential,
Building a top notch agenda requires collaboration and input from our members and Industry Partners! Look for an email with a link to complete the Call for Sessions beginning August 2nd!
Annual State Conference November 9 - November 11, 2022 Join us for the ISNA Annual Conference at the Indianapolis Marriott East beginning on Wednesday, November 9th. This year’s
theme, “A Seat at the Table,” embodies the absolute necessity of school meal programs that has been realized by families all across the country over the last 2 years. Administrators, school boards, community members, and most importantly, the children we serve, have recognized that school nutrition professionals do deserve A SEAT AT THE TABLE! More information to come.
Facilities Planning and Management (ISNA/IDOE SN Certificate Program Courses) October 5, 2022 • 9:00am-12:00pm EST Menu Planning Regulations and Concepts (ISNA/IDOE SN Certificate Program Courses) October 5, 2022 • 12:30pm EST Both classes will be at the Central Indiana Educational Service Center • Indianapolis
For more information and to register,
Procurement: Beyond the Basics (ISNA/IDOE SN Certificate Program Courses) December 7, 2022 • 9:00am-12:00pm EST
National School Lunch Week October 10-14, 2022
Human Resource Management (ISNA/IDOE SN Certificate Program Courses) December 7, 2022 • 12:30pm EST Both classes will be at the Central Indiana Educational Service Center • Indianapolis
For more information and to register,
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!
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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
2022 ISNA/IDOE School Nutrition Certificate Program COURSE SCHEDULE
LOCATION FOR ALL COURSES: Central Indiana Education Service Center 3500 Depauw Blvd #2020, Indianapolis, IN 46268
October 5, 2022 *2 in person courses
December 7, 2022 *2 in person courses
Facilities Planning & Management 9:00am - 12:00pm EST Menu Planning Regulations and Concepts 12:30pm - 3:30pm EST
Procurement - Beyond the Basics 9:00am - 12:00pm EST Human Resource Management 12:30pm - 3:30pm EST
Program Enrollment Fee is $25/person Course Fees - $90/course for members, $130/course for nonmembers
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
One Member’s Journey to Career Advancement via the ISNA/IDOE School Nutrition Certificate Program By Tami Scalzo, Food Service Coordinator, Centerville-Abington Community Schools
parked in a church parking lot in the center of our little town distributing meals. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support from my staff. They saw my vision and helped make it happen. There were teachers, administrators, coaches, local authorities and principals that all came together to help get the meals together to feed our students. Fast forward…back to school and finding our new “normal.” I wasn’t sure what that
As I sit here in the airport terminal praying my flight won’t get canceled again I have plenty of time to reflect on my experience and why I am even sitting here. In November of 2019 (pre-Covid) my school district took a chance on me. I was hired to be Centerville-Abington’s Food Service Coordinator. I had been with the corporation for almost six years beginning as a substitute custodian and dishwasher. I then became a cashier at the district’s K-2 building and loved it! While working as a cashier I also helped in the kitchen. Cooking quickly became my passion and I enjoyed being the Head cook for almost 6 years. Then one day the then food service director, Amanda Stout, now Director at Greenfield Central, announced that she was leaving the district. Amanda told me at that time that she thought I should apply for the Food Service Coordinator position. Say What?! I wasn’t sure at first, but with much thought and consideration I did apply and now here I sit at Amanda’s old desk continuing to learn new things about this position daily! Upon taking this new position, my school corporation asked if I would be willing to work at continuing my education in school nutrition. Of course I agreed, especially since it came with a pay raise. This is when my participation in the ISNA/IDOE School Nutrition Certificate Program began. The first two courses that I took were held on the same day in Indianapolis and taught by Becky Landes, Food Service Operation Manager for Manchester Community Schools. She was a wealth of information and such a pleasure to speak with. My thought at the time was, “These courses are great and I can’t wait to take more!” Then, the dreaded phone calls began coming in to myself and other Food Service Directors in the room with me that day. “We are closing indefinitely after school tomorrow,” and “We will assess the situation and go from there.” So, I sprang into action and we were serving quarantine meals by Wednesday out of our school’s “Blue Bus.” Literally, a bright blue bus
“The courses were so rewarding. Every time I finished a course I felt a sense of accomplishment.”
really meant since I had only been the Food Service Coordinator for a mere 3 months prior to closing, but I was ready for the challenge! I then received an email stating that the certificate courses were resuming. My amazing school corporation didn’t hesitate to sign off on me starting the courses again. So, I dove back in. The courses were so rewarding. Every time I finished a course I felt a sense of accomplishment. My kids, husband, coworkers and administration were always checking in on how I was doing. The courses were inspiring and the instructors were awesome. They all knew the material and explained it in a way that made it easy to understand. I finished all 17 courses that the program had to offer, but since I was a director with less than 5 years experience, I was required to take the ICN’s Introduction to School Nutrition Leadership in order to officially complete the requirements. While this 30.5 hour training is typically offered by the Indiana Department of Education a couple of times a year, Centerville-Abington wanted me to
complete it as soon as possible. So without hesitation, my request to take the training was approved by the Assistant Superintendent and our school board and I was off to Mississippi! I was super excited for the opportunity to attend this course at the Institute of Child Nutrition on the beautiful campus of Ole Miss University in Oxford Mississippi. I have to be honest, I was also very nervous, but still excited. The staff at the institute was very hospitable and inviting, making me feel as if they had known me for years. I highly recommend that if you ever have the chance to attend a course in person at ICN, you should DO IT! The instructors were awesome and knew the information well. Any time during the course that there was a question or information the instructors didn’t know, they were quick to put resources together and get us an answer. The training is full of information that I have already put into practice within my school district. It was such an amazing experience to attend a course with so many other Directors from all over the United States and even others from Indiana. A shout out to the other Hoosiers in attendance; Becky Landes, ICN Consultant, Raina Sisson of Northern Wells Community Schools, and Billie Jo Russell from West Washington School Corporation. I may have never formed the relationships I have with these ladies without this experience. Not to mention those that I met and will have to take a vacation to visit! I am incredibly proud to work for Centerville- Abington Schools, the schools that my parents, in-laws, niece, nephew, husband and I all attended and graduated from and now where my nieces and my own kids attend. I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to continue my education and advance my career via the ISNA/ IDOE School Nutrition Certificate Program. It has made me better for the awesome students at Centerville-Abington Community Schools!
CLICK HERE for more information about the ISNA/IDOE School Nutrition Certificate Program!
2021-2022 executive board
President Stacie Light Warsaw Community Schools 574-371-5086 SLight@warsawschools.org Immediate Past President Leeanne Koeneman Northwest Allen County Schools 260-637-8768 Leeanne.Koeneman@nacs.k12.in.us President Elect Christine Clarahan, MS,SNS,RDN School City of Hammond 219-933-2400 CRClarahan@hammond.k12.in.us Vice President Courtney FitzSimons, RD,SNS West Lafayette Community Schools 765-746-0421
Asst. Professional Development Chair Lindsey Hill, RD,SNS South Madison Community School Corp 765-778-2152 email@example.com Membership Chair Nicole Moorhead, NDTR, SNS MSD Decatur Township 317-856-5265 firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Relations Chair Ashlee Shroyer Southwest Allen Co. Schools 260-431-2282 email@example.com Legislative Chair Ben Driscoll SMART Sytems 800-348-0823 firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com Secretary/Treasurer Valarie Miller Center Grove Community School Corp. 317-881-9326 firstname.lastname@example.org Professional Development Chair Amanda Stout, SNS Greenfield - Central Schools 317-477-4107 email@example.com Asst. Professional Development Chair Betsey Willard, RDN Franklin Township Community School Corp. 317-862-2411 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bylaws and Policy Chair Jordan Ryan, RD,SNS Brownsburg Community School Corp. 317-852-5726 email@example.com State Agency Representative Ashley Heller Indiana Dept of Education 317-232-0544 firstname.lastname@example.org
Region Representative Chair/ Region 5 Representative Amanda Worrick,DTR Mississinewa Community Schools 765-677-4423 email@example.com Region 1 Representative Angelica Claiborne Merrillville Community School Corporation 219-650-5300 firstname.lastname@example.org
Region 8 Representative Shenae Rowe, RDN Warrick County School Corp 812-897-1341 email@example.com
Region 9 Representative Vickie Coffey Richland-Bean Blossom Comm School Corp 812-876-7805 firstname.lastname@example.org
Industry Advisory Chair Alison Powers, MBA, RDN JTM Food Group 574-242-0962 email@example.com
Region 2 Representative Lisa Abell NIESC/NWIESC 574-254-0111 firstname.lastname@example.org Region 3 Representative Ashlee Shroyer Southwest Allen Co. Schools 260-431-2282 email@example.com
Executive Director Sheri Shipp, RD ISNA 317-852-1985 firstname.lastname@example.org Financial Secretary Cheryl Speakman ISNA 765-412-0639 email@example.com
Region 4 Representative Claudia Simion Brownsburg Community School Corp. 317-852-5726 firstname.lastname@example.org Region 6 Representative Betty Huddleston Western Wayne Schools 765-478-3326 email@example.com
Region 7 Representative Mary Ellen Gilliam, MBA MSD Wayne Township 317-988-7961 firstname.lastname@example.org
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SNS EXAM 8:30AM WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9 AT THE INDIANAPOLIS MARRIOTT EAST
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SNA & ISNA Award Winners
Amanda Worrick Director of Child Nutrition Mississinewa Community Schools
Ruth Hacha Food Service Assistant Manager East Allen County Schools
Sara Laboube Food Service Employee North Adams Community Schools
Rita Tapp-Webb Operations Supervisor RBB Edgewood Schools
Ginger Macy Site Supervisor Perry Township Schools
Tonia Batesole Food Service Director Porter Township School Corporation
Winners will be recognized at the 2022 Annual Conference in Indianapolis. NOVEMBER 9-11
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By Ashlee Shroyer Food Service Director Southwest Allen Co. Schools
On Tuesday, June 7th, ISNA hosted the 2022 School Nutrition and Industry Summit welcoming all participants with our Keynote Speaker, Kim Strobel. She reminded us how remembering our WHY can help us to reignite our passion, purpose, and meaning in what we do as Food Service Professionals. Here are some WHYs of those who attended:
“To reconnect with staff members.” - Betsey Willard, RDN, Franklin Township Community School Corporation
“My why comes from working with children who truly didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. My why is to work as hard as possible to make sure that every student in School City of Hammond feels comfortable eating delicious food in our cafeterias - that they feel nourished and ready to focus on learning. My why means that I understand it isn’t just about the students - it is about building up my staff so that they are providing the best possible experience for their students.” - Christine Clarahan, School City of Hammond “My WHY is still being able to provide good quality meals for kids, on the rollercoaster ride I call school food service :)” - Betty Huddleston, Western Wayne Schools “Being a lunch lady advocate and being the change in the school nutrition by showing that school nutrition professionals matter and they are contributing to the kids’ education as much as a teacher by teaching the students healthy habits, being a promoter of respect and manners during lunch time, creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for our customers and staff.” - Claudia Simion, Brownsburg Community School Corporation
“Continuing to impact the lives and wellbeing of the community I live in through school meals.” - Ashlee Shroyer, Southwest Allen Co Schools “Continuing to be a child advocate, nurturing our future leaders one meal at a time.” - Mary Ellen Gilliam, MSD Wayne Township “Growing up in poverty myself, my WHY is to feed kids good healthy meals so no kid goes hungry ever. Universal meals made this so much easier for all of us, but….back to eliminating barriers (including the stigma) to get good healthy food to all kids.” - Vickie Coffey, Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corp “As an industry partner, I am so excited to network with customers and colleagues throughout Indiana. Every time I present at a conference, I am able to showcase my personal brand and products in new and different ways as a “soft sale” that’s beneficial for professional development. I encourage all industry partners to showcase your presentation skills at ISNA events! it’s all about collaboration and education!” - Alison Powers, MBA, RDN, SNS, Midwest Regional Sales Manager J.T.M. Food Group
“To reconnect with amazing individuals who can help inspire me to create an amazing program for all of the children in my community.” - Nicole Moorhead, MSD Decatur Township
During the two-day event, participants had intimate contact with industry partners who created an opportunity for open conversations which included: • Planning for equipment replacement and purchases • Procurement of equipment • Preventative maintenance • Major renovations and minor replacements • Innovative food items and how manufacturers plan on meeting the new dietary guidelines • Open forum between IDOE’s Assistant Directors and USDA’s Midwest Regional Office • Strategies on conquering the new sodium guidelines • Returning to “normal” program operations Networking is a key component of all ISNA events, Summit celebrated our collaborative differences through “Indiana’s Got Talent!” , the one and only talent/variety show hosted by the ISNA Industry Advisory Council!
DESTINATION: Leadership The School Nutrition Association welcomed state association leaders to the National Leadership Conference (NLC) in West Palm Beach, Florida. This annual conference is designed to provide state executive board leaders the opportunity to develop essential skills in leading a nonprofit association, network with other state leaders, and gain new insights into becoming more effective and engaging leaders. This year, ISNA was represented by our Executive Director (Sheri Shipp), President (Stacie Light), President-elect (Christine Clarahan), Vice President (Courtney FitzSimons), and Region Rep Chair/Future Leader (Amanda Worrick). Let’s take a look at what they had to say about the impact of this year’s NLC. How does NLC impact ISNA? Stacie: Oh, how I wish COVID had not taken away this opportunity the last 2 years. NLC truly prepares one for a leadership role by helping them with everything from the structure of running a board meeting to working on a plan of action while building on past programs. Christine: SNA knows that in order to have a strong national association (and voice) it needs strong leaders representing each of the state affiliates. NLC is one way that SNA ensures that each state association is provided the
Stacie Light Director of Food Services Warsaw Community Schools ISNA President
Christine Clarahan MS, SNS, RDN Food Service Director School City of Hammond ISNA President-elect
Courtney FitzSimons MA, RD, CD, SNS Food Service Director West Lafayette Comm. Schools ISNA Vice President
information it needs to thrive as a state affiliate. What did you like most about NLC?
Christine: For those of you who don’t know, Indiana is leaps and bounds ahead of just about every other SNA state affiliate out there. It is great to be reminded of that at NLC. Lindsey Hill and Sherri Ship were even able to showcase ISNA’s hard work at one of the sessions.
Courtney: Although it was fun getting to know other states throughout breakout sessions, I’d definitely have to say it was the unstructured time spent with Stacie, Amanda, Sheri, Christine, and Lindsay that I enjoyed the most. These ladies are brilliant and on more than one occasion we were poolside discussing ways to make ISNA even better. I felt on fire for ISNA! The ideas we created and the work we accomplished together was inspiring. I look forward to seeing how these changes impact our efficiency and effectiveness as a board and for our members. Amanda: One of my favorite parts of Future Leaders was completing our DiSC Profiles and digging into what makes us who we are. It was very interesting to see our individual assessments and to learn how to better connect with colleagues whose priorities and preferences differ from yours.
Amanda Worrick DTR Director of Child Nutrition Mississinewa Comm. Schools ISNA Region Rep. Chair/Future Leader
What was Future Leaders like? Amanda: SNA Future Leaders Program was a great experience. This year was a bit different than years past as they decided to do a more blended program with NLC. This allowed Future Leaders to be able to attend the keynote speakers and certain sessions with the whole group but still have a track with only those attending Future Leaders. Future Leaders had 33 attendees from all different states. I was able to make some great connections with a leader in Kentucky and one in South Dakota! It’s so interesting to learn more about how other states operate both their associations and their programs. Would you encourage others to attend as a Future Leader? Amanda: Yes, I would absolutely encourage others to attend the Future Leaders Program! I felt it was a good experience to grow as a leader. I had the opportunity to meet several inspiring SNA board members and enjoyed spending time with fellow Indiana members. We really dug into state planning, brainstormed new ideas for the association and connected with each other! I had a great time and learned a lot!
What is one thing that you took away from NLC? Stacie: One of the breakout sessions was titled: Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes. In order to keep the association moving forward, it is ok to “modernize” some processes. We do not need to revamp everything, just modernize as we move forward. We need to be sensitive to our board members’ time and run meetings efficiently. It’s ok to do a concise agenda and our board meetings are not spent reading reports. One final point: Don’t be an Eeyore in the boardroom, we need cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are FUN and contagious. People will follow FUN. Courtney: I attended a session titled Leading with a Sense of Humor. One thing I wrote down and underlined was “find comedy in the chaos!” I love that! It wouldn’t be Food Service if it weren’t for all the chaos we experience day in and day out. We still have to get the job accomplished regardless of how we respond to it, so why not choose happiness and keep a positive outlook? I always say you spend too much of your life at work not to enjoy it. Let’s find ways to laugh and release those endorphins!
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LEGISLATIVE ACTION CONFERENCE: Is it Worth the Investment? BY COURTNEY FITZSIMONS MA, RD, CD, SNS FOOD SERVICE DIRECTOR WEST LAFAYETTE COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION
Wow! Legislative Action Conference. What a whirlwind. Not only was I a first-time LAC attendee, but it was also my first time in Washington, D.C. What a beautiful, powerful city rich with history and strength. As I sat reflecting on the days that I was away at the conference, it was easy to feel discouraged. State Board of Accounts was at my door, the demands of my job were competing for my attention, I missed my family and I was just exhausted. Not only that, but there was a real fear about what’s to happen next without the Child Nutrition Waiver extensions. I couldn’t help but ask myself, was it worth it? On the first day of conference, we quickly learned that the U.S. Senate was working on an Omnibus Appropriations Bill that did not contain language to extend the child nutrition waivers that helped our programs stay afloat throughout the pandemic and its effects. SNA compiled a letter and we were asked to reach out to our legislators to advocate for the extension of these waivers. I felt the sense of urgency in the room of nearly 700 school nutrition professionals. We shared this letter with our association, staff, co-ops, and families and within hours Congress received more than 133,000 e-mails. It was amazing to see the momentous support we had from our communities and the impact we made.
After two days of speakers and preparing, it was finally time to meet with our legislators. I was both nervous and excited. In each discussion, my group and I were able to convey the gravity of what we are dealing with day in and day out with a 20-40% increase in food and supplies and a 20% increase in labor costs. We shared our experiences of stockouts, labor shortages, and financial burdens. We pleaded for their support in extending the waivers. Although we were met with empathy and admiration for what we do, it was clear our Indiana legislators were not going to support these waiver extensions in the omnibus. It was hard not feeling deflated walking back into my district Wednesday morning. Drained from the trip, both physically and emotionally worn out, with essentially nothing to show for it. I needed some encouragement, a pick me up, so I reached out to the amazing group of people I spent the last several days with. With
“Millions of kids count on us and if we don’t fight for them, who will?!”
one text, Shenae Rowe perfectly summed up the entire experience and why it is important to do what we do. “I think it is always worth it. We don’t see the change immediately or the results of our efforts, but because of what we do each year, we DO make change happen. We educate them about school nutrition when no one else does. We are the experts and they need to hear from us. It can easily be discouraging, but there is so much more we can do. We need to reach out to them more often, reach out to our state legislators and make the change happen. We cannot give up or feel like what we do isn’t important. If we hadn’t fought all these years, we wouldn’t have had the flexibility, the waivers, more commodity entitlement, and the list goes on and on. If we don’t do it, who will? So take some deep breaths, and get back on the horse. Our kids need all of us to fight for what is right.”
So back to the original question, is LAC worth the investment? Yes! A million times, Yes! No matter what comes our way we’ve proven time and time again that nutrition professionals are resilient. I don’t know what next year holds for us, but I am confident that kids will be fed no matter what and we will ALWAYS make ourselves heard. And while I can’t necessarily say whether or not this is my favorite conference, I can say with 100% certainty that LAC is absolutely the most important conference to attend. Millions of kids count on us and if we don’t fight for them, who will?!
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ISNA NUTRITION RESEARCH COMMITTEE
BUILDING THE FUTURE OF OUR PROFESSION BY Becoming a
Preceptor By Alison Powers MBA, RDN, SNS Regional Sales Manager, J.T.M. Food Group ISNA Industry Advisory Chair
Most foodservice directors wear many hats throughout the day. Between USDA regulations, supply chain issues, and labor shortages, the daily to-do list is constantly growing. It is incredibly challenging to look beyond the day-to-day obligations and think about succession planning. Did you know that approximately 30% of school nutrition professionals will be retiring in the next five to ten years, per recruitment statistics from SNA of Ohio? This statistic was determined prior to the pandemic, which has prompted a 10% drop in employment in the hospitality industry since February 2020 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022). Unfortunately, the odds are likely that our labor shortages will only continue to get worse. While there may not be an immediate solution to the national labor shortage in the foodservice industry, implementing some key strategies now can develop a sustainable solution. Did you know that succession planning should begin three to five years in advance of a change? For the many child nutrition personnel considering retirement, it is crucial that their teams are aware of their plans so they can begin preparing their successor. For employers, it is key to have regular personnel reviews and encourage staff to be vocal about their career goals to anticipate necessary changes. Why is there a Labor Shortage? While most of America’s workforce was working from home during the pandemic, they were also given time to re-evaluate their professional and personal priorities. What followed is known as
the Great Resignation. Many used this time to take online courses to advance their careers. Others simply found other, better-paying jobs. In addition, we had many of our Baby Boomer population consider early retirement. According to CNN Business, 6.5 million workers were hired in January 2022 and 4.3 million workers quit their jobs. With a low unemployment rate and almost every business advertising “help wanted”, it is very difficult for a business owner to hire and retain new employees. Where do we find our future talent? The future of our labor force is with the Gen Z population. These consumers and employees are very socially responsible and mission-driven in motivation. Seeking a position with growth and development opportunities, child nutrition is a career that offers continuous professional development opportunities at the local, state, and national levels. School foodservice is full of selling points; we can market our mission of nourishing and developing our nation’s youth through child nutrition wellness initiatives. Lunch is a daily advertisement Still, with limited hours in the day, what can we be doing to promote the career path of child nutrition? While the pandemic brought incredible hardships, it also was the first-time school meals were sent home so the entire family could observe their quality, nutritious composition. The school lunch period is our first opportunity to educate
and engage our future workforce. Each child nutrition employee has an opportunity to “sell” this career path to each student, parent, and teacher that walks through these serving lines daily. Re-imagining the business standard If the current workforce is looking for something flexible and rewarding with the potential for advancement, it is essential to include these details in marketing strategies. Are there opportunities to give staff more hours with catering, food preparation, or special projects? Is it possible to develop a job-sharing system so two people can cover one position? Is it possible to share employees across departments? This labor crisis is far from over, so it’s time to identify creative solutions. What can I do now? While working on summer projects, begin to think about areas to streamline for SY 2022- 2023. Is there a job that seems obsolete with our new menus? Is there a staff member that is underutilized for their talents? Can your industry partners offer insights as to the future of equipment, food manufacturing, and consulting resources? Consider automation One big topic of discussion with every manufacturing company is automation. While there are often some upfront costs with equipment upgrades, the savings in labor costs will be the long-term benefit. Does your operation have the budget to consider new equipment that can create efficiencies in your kitchen? Are your menus optimizing your labor? Conduct a cost analysis to make sure your money and talent are put to the best use. Build your talent pipeline There is no better positive reinforcement than to offer professional development and career advancement to your employees. Building your management team from within creates consistency and loyalty while decreasing turnover.
Become a preceptor For a long-term labor solution, consider working with your high school students by participating in career fairs and offering mentorship to trade programs, culinary clubs, and business classes within your district. Developing a relationship with surrounding colleges and universities can develop a personnel pipeline for your district. Network with your local undergraduate nutrition, consumer sciences, and culinary arts programs to educate students on career possibilities within child nutrition. If you’re new to being a mentor or preceptor, reach out to your colleagues that have done this before. Using a basic template for onboarding interns can help take the guesswork out of a new project. Consider this two-week dietetic intern schedule from Audrey Banich at Franklin Township Schools in Indianapolis, IN. Some students have 2-week, 4-week, and 6+ weeklong rotations, so it will vary depending on the institution. Just keep in mind that you are the director, and you dictate how, when, and what duration you’re willing to serve as a preceptor. One best practice is to interview students prior to taking them on as an intern to determine the best fit for your operation. Starting a new project is always daunting, but one with measurable goals, sustainable systems, and a labor solution can be the most rewarding and beneficial to your program. Consider becoming a preceptor to enrich students’ lives and your program! IUPUI Dietetic Internship Class of 2022
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