My First School Nutrition Association Experience

I had the pleasure of attending my first School Nutrition Association event at the beautiful Pinehurst Resort last week, and boy was it a blast! Being new to the school nutrition industry and a new SNA Member, the SNA of North Carolina Industry Seminar seminar gave me insight as to what the industry is all about. From empowerment to emerging issues, here’s a dive into my experience at the SNA of NC Industry Seminar. 

The SNA Community 

Walking the halls, attending the cocktail hour, and the informative Innovation Stations, it became very clear that we are all part of the same goal at a conference – to increase the availability of quality meals through education and advocacy! Exactly like the SNA motto states. During my time at this seminar, the sense of community was indescribable. We are all here for the betterment of our children. Whether that be your own child eating school lunch or if you are an educator, together, we are a community. 

Sense of Family 

As soon as Liz Roesel and I walked through the door, we were greeted by such welcoming colleagues. Liz has been in this industry for a while, so she knew practically everyone in the room. However, everyone that I had the pleasure of meeting made me feel a part of the SNA family immediately. You can kind of tell the first-timers as we all walked around nervously, but there was no reason to be nervous. Everyone greeted each other with a smile, and it was very clear that these relationships were established through the love of school nutrition. I’m so excited to start forming connections and be a part of this family!

Have we not met? Check out this video Liz and I made from this conference introducing us and how we plan to help school nutrition programs.

Emerging Issues 

My first session was Emerging Issues with Ken Woodburn. This gave me a greater awareness of the different challenges that each district faces. I didn’t realize there is so much that goes into providing students with healthy nutritious meals. Forecasting, bid processes, cycle menus, commodity orders, K12 Procurement Alliance – these are all words that I wrote down with question marks beside to find out more information. But Liz was a great help! There was also a panel discussion that was very interesting. The panel consisted of industry professionals and school nutrition directors, and it was very eye-opening to see their different perspectives. I am eager to learn from every professional that I can. 

“Let’s Get Engaged” by Roxi Bahar Hewertson 

This session was so much fun! I think I can speak for everyone in the room that Roxi Bahar Hewertson kept us on our toes and made us better listeners in the process. During this time, I really had to step out of my comfort zone and walk up to strangers and ask if they wanted to be partners in the different exercises. This is something I am not used to, however, I went feet first and met some pretty awesome people along the way! I was even matched with a broker and was able to ask her some questions I had on my “questions to ask later” list. If anyone has the opportunity to listen to Roxi Bahar Hewertson speak, I would highly recommend it! 

Innovation Stations

The Innovation Stations were informative sessions that I thought were very exciting. Every industry vendor approached solutions for K-12 in different ways and as a marketer, I love their creativity behind it all. Some had slides with eye-catching facts numbers attached to it, while others were more on the anecdotal side. Either way, these industry representatives knew exactly what they were talking about. I caught myself thinking “Wow, I need these chicken nuggets in my life. I need to get these in my home ASAP.” I was convinced that these chicken nuggets are for me! I have a new admiration for my fellow industry representatives and learned more about how we can serve districts in every 20 minute round. 

I look forward to my next SNA event, as there is still so much to learn! However, I am hopeful that very soon I won’t be writing down question marks beside industry terms I don’t know, but instead be able to talk with confidence among the other industry professionals. 

Be sure to check back in a couple of weeks to read my next blog on my experience at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, CA! We look forward to bringing back the latest marketing trends to the school nutrition industry.

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