News & Opinion > PRO >

Tackling the Toughest Issues Facing School Nutrition

2010 Child Nutrition Industry Conference

By Amber Hensley, Guest Editor

The Food Channel is in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., this week, covering the annual Child Nutrition Industry Conference (CNIC) hosted by the School Nutrition Association (SNA). School nutrition professionals and industry members from across the nation will gather this week to share ideas and discuss tough issues facing the school foodservice industry today, all with the vision of the SNA in mind—healthful meals and nutrition education to all children.

Check back with The Food Channel all this week for continuing coverage of the CNIC from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., including real-time Twitter feed updates at Twitter.com/foodchannel.

Day 1 Coverage. School District 101: A Day in the Life of a Big City Chief Operating Officer

Day 2 Coverage. Appearance by The Lunch Box Project founder Chef Ann Cooper

New Products for School Cafeterias

This year’s conference theme is Improve Your Bottom Line and Maximize Your Resources. ‘The conference will provide fresh ideas for making school nutrition operations more productive and profitable and provide tips for streamlining business practices, increasing efficiency and stretching the budget,’ said SNA president Doris Rivas, MS, RD, SNS and executive director of food and child nutrition services for the Dallas Independent School District in Texas.

Photo by Jim Ezell, courtesy of SNA

‘As reflected in the conference theme, school nutrition programs struggle with tight budgets and limited resources,’ said Rivas. ‘Under the National School Lunch Program, the federal government reimburses schools $2.68 for each free lunch served to qualifying students, but the national average cost to prepare a school lunch is $2.92. As school nutrition programs work to offer students even more nutritious meals with more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, it is critical for Congress to increase funds for school meals during Child Nutrition Reauthorization this spring.’

The Food Channel conference coverage will include:

Opening General Session: A Day in the Life of a Big City Chief Operating Officer
⋅ Speaker, Michael Eugene, Chief Operating Officer, Orange County (Fla.) Public Schools will share insights that will help operators and directors navigate ‘the system.’

FAME Awards, presented to outstanding leaders, recognizing them for achievement, innovation and service sponsored by Basic American Foods, Schwan’s Food Service and Tyson Foods.*

UPDATE: Fame Awards presented

New World Expectations: No Hormones, No Preservatives, Go Green and Turn a Few Cartwheels!
⋅ Keynote Speaker: Ann Cooper, Nutrition Services Director, Boulder Valley (Colo.) School District and Founder of the Food Family Farming Foundation’s Lunch Box Project
⋅ Panel: Jody Houston, SNS, Food Services Director, Corpus Christi (Texas) Independent School District; Barbara Jirka, PhD, SNS, Senior Brand Manager K12, Tyson Foods; Jean Ronnei, Nutrition & Commercial Services Director, Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Schools; Dr. Janey Thornton, SNS, Deputy Under Secretary, USDA/FNCS
⋅ Session will focus on what operators, industry and government regulators are facing in the

*“New World Expectations” of school nutrition programs.
Learning from America’s Giants: Effective Strategies for an Efficient Supply Chain*
⋅ Speakers: Patrick Davis, VP of Market Sales Development, McCain Foods; Johnny Hughes, VP of Non-Commercial Sales, Tyson Foods; Vince Varjabedian, Food Service Sales Manager, Borden Milk Products
⋅ Manufacturers representing chicken, beef, milk and potatoes are focused on enhancing the efficiency of providing foods to America’s school children.

Innovation Stations
⋅ This series of sessions will introduce school nutrition professionals to a variety of innovative products and services recently introduced in the school market.

Check back to see additional CNIC articles posted throughout the week or follow on Twitter at twitter.com/foodchannel or on Facebook.