This post is sponsored by the School Nutrition Association. All opinions are mine alone.
Last month I had the opportunity to attend the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference in Las Vegas. At this conference I learned so much about the school lunch program nationally but also locally. Going into this event I had no idea what to expect nor did I have any idea how much I would learn.
What’s Cookin’ At Your School?
Let’s back up and review exactly what this conference was all about.
WHAT IS THE SCHOOL NUTRITION ASSOCIATION?
The School Nutrition Association is a national, nonprofit professional organization representing more than 58,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. SNA’s purpose is to have well-nourished students who are prepared to succeed. Every student has access to nutritious meals at school, ensuring their optimal health and well-being. SNA empowers and supports school nutrition professionals in advancing the accessibility, quality and integrity of school nutrition programs.
After attending the School Nutrition Association National Conference I now have a whole lot of respect for those lunch ladies and nutrition teams (yes TEAMS!) that work hard at making sure there are nutritious meals provided for our school children. I honestly had no idea HOW much thought was put into a school’s nutrition plan.
My Local Nutrition Team – Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Yesterday I shared that my kids went back to school this week. This school year is going to be way different for our family because we are entering the world of public schools, we are super excited for the great opportunities but also a little overwhelmed with what to expect. When I attended the I had the opportunity to meet some of my local school district nutrition team – I was so excited to do this because I knew that the whole lunch time experience would be way different at our new school and I wanted to know it all!!
Meet Molly Brandt – Director of Nutrition Services with Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Molly was so kind and I was able to meet two other team members who were also fantastic. The team took me around the giant exhibit hall and showed me some of their favorite vendors and items they are excited to be adding to their nutrition plan. It was really great to not only connect with this local team but to hear what they are working on for our schools. Over and over I heard all three of them that they are in this “business” to make sure kids are fed, learn about healthy food decisions and excited about their meals. Totally kid focused.
More about Adams 12 Five Star School Nutrition Services:
The district department is comprised of over 10 food service and nutrition professionals. Adams 12 Five Star Schools participate in the National School Lunch Program, National Breakfast Program, After School Snack Program and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. All of these programs are striving to help students develop sound nutritional habits by exposing them to a variety of foods every day. They offer many choices and provide healthful fruits and vegetables daily.
As you can tell, Molly and her team are super busy making sure that all of the programs available are working great for the students and schools. What I loved about Molly was that she never talked about restricting foods – instead she said they use the “Go, Slow, Whoa” program. Have you heard of this? It makes so much sense for adults but also for kids of all ages.
“Go, Slow, Whoa” Program
Go, Slow, Whoa (GSW) is a program designed to help students and parents make healthier food choices. Students are taught how to make healthier food choices by identifying foods as belonging to one of the three categories: GO foods, SLOW foods, and WHOA foods. Go, Slow, Whoa is a simplified way of helping children identify foods to eat everyday. GO foods are good to eat anytime. SLOW foods should be eaten sometimes, at most several times a week. WHOA foods should only be eaten once in a while or as special treats.
I had no idea how much thought and taste testing goes into planning the school lunch menus. Once example was pizza – pizza is a must have for school lunch but this team wants the pizza to be the most nutritious as possible for the students but also delicious. I was excited to taste the crust they use and guess what? It was so good and way healthier than the crust we buy.
Once I had this experience I was really excited for my kids to experience a school lunch program at their new school. I could tell that the nutrition team puts so much thought and care into what they are providing and planning for the students. I love that, as a parent that makes me feel great sending my kiddos with lunch money to school.
My day at the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference went too fast. I honestly could have spent a few days there and still not felt like I got all the information. While this is a conference for nutrition professionals and school administration I am so happy I went. I feel like it is a great way for parents to understand that the folks working at the schools truly care and put HOURS of work and planning into those meals.
We often talk about parents being more involved in their schools, jumping into the world of school nutrition would be quite eye opening to many parents out there. Take time to learn about your school and what goes into their programs. My experience at this conference shows me that any of these professionals would gladly sit down with you and discuss their goals, needs and wants.