Viva Las Vegas - Viva ANC

About the District Director Section meeting

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Hi! I’m Micheline Piekarski, the District Director / Supervisor Membership Section Chair. I’m very excited to be joining you all in Las Vegas for ANC. This year’s conference promises to be better than ever, with great education sessions and a fantastic exhibit floor. To find out more, please visit the ANC website.

I want to tell you about this year’s District Director / Supervisor Section meeting at ANC. It will be held on the last day of the conference, Thursday, July 2nd from 8:15-9:15 AM. This year’s meeting will focus on an issue facing everyone who runs a school nutrition program - rising costs. The meeting’s panelists are three directors who run outstanding programs:

  • Joyce Akins, SNS, school nutrition director for Lowndes County School District, GA
  • LaNae Potter, SNS, school nutrition director for Garvey Unified School District, CA
  • Paul Yettaw, SNS, school nutrition director for Lakeview School District, MI

These three panelists will discuss how they keep their school nutrition programs fiscally sound, particularly during difficult economic times. I certainly hope you will be there to listen and learn from these outstanding directors.

One of the great things about a blog is that we can start the discussion before the meeting beings! What do you want to learn from this meeting? Let us know by commenting below!

Win Big at ANC 2009

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Are you looking to make even more of your ANC educational experience? Earn up to 8 more CEUs by registering for one or more pre-conference workshops. The extra day spent in Las Vegas is well worth the time and the cost. Not only do you get a chance to learn from some of the nation’s top experts in school nutrition, but you also gain in-depth knowledge on critical topics. Pre-conference workshops are certainly one of the best ways to “win big” at ANC 2009!

This year’s topics are: 1) “The HealthierUS School Challenge”- more and more schools are taking the challenge and you don’t want to be left out!  2)”Working with the Media”- School meals will continue to be in the news, 3)“Handling Food Allergies”- learn about the most up-to date research,  4)“Financial Management”-the economy will demand our expertise, and 5)"Becoming an SNA Certified Trainer"- required for all new Certification trainers . For complete information, check out our ANC website.

Have you already registered? No problem at all—you can still add a pre-con registration to your ANC registration. You can even register onsite, though SNA recommends that you do register in advance if at all possible. Pre-conference workshops do have limited space.

Is there any one of these pre-cons you are particularly excited about? Let us know by commenting below!

What does ANC mean to you?

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What does ANC mean to our members? Education, new food products, and friendship.  Find out more by reading some of the postcards we received as part of the ANC 2009 Postcard Sweepstakes.

“ANC 2008 Philadelphia - This was my first ANC.  It was fantastic!!!  One of my favorite classes was on Introducing New Foods – Great Grains.  I love to see kids try new foods, and sometimes they actually like the new item and incorporate it into their diet.”

Sabrina Jewell, Henderson County, KY


“I love going to the conferences.  The one I have enjoyed the most so far was last summer in Philly.  I have attended several conferences; state and national and they seem to get better each year… can’t wait for Vegas! 

I am an elementary cafeteria manager and I love my job and most of all the children…you meet a different one everyday…they change your outlook on life.  Hope to see everyone in Vegas, 2009!”

Elizabeth Jones, Oldham County, KY


“My most memorable child nutrition moment was my first ANC in 2004.  I was a 24 year old, fresh out of college CN Director taking on the world and all of those in it who attempted to bring harm to child nutrition!  When I stepped into the first general session I was so overwhelmed with joy.  Before me was an army of “Child Nutrition Superheroes” geared up to fight right along side me!  It was awesome!

Leuna Johnson, Assumption Parish, LA


“Chicago (2007) was my first ANC.  Until going there, I didn’t realize how many dedicated people there are making sure kids get nutritious meals.  You could tell they all really cared.”

Debbie Taylor, Great Falls, MT

What does ANC mean to you? Share your thoughts here…

It’s No Gamble: Come to ANC and Win Big!

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As your ANC Steering Committee Chair, I have had the privilege to help plan this year’s action-packed ANC! Some of you may be on the edge “should I go or should I stay.” Well, I’d like to remind you that, as the saying goes, you can't WIN if you don’t PLAY! This year’s conference is a sure bet for finding winning solutions for your school nutrition program! Forget about the gaming tables on the Las Vegas Strip, ANC will feature the hottest “games” in town with seven program tracks to choose from:

  • Financial Management/Operations
  • Hot Topics
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • Nutrition
  • Professional Skilling Building
  • USDA/Commodities

Within each of these tracks you’ll find a wide variety of individual education sessions, including these winners:

  • Pssst…Gossip in the Kitchen
  • Ten Feet Tall & Bulletproof: Top Traits of Leaders
  • Stirring the Pot…Pet Peeves that Raise Our Boiling Point

Also, be sure to stay tuned for announcements on Hot Topic sessions that will address charge policies, equipment, indirect costs, and much more. If you need a little head start on your learning, consider registering for one of the Pre-Conference sessions. They promise to give you in-depth, insider information on some the more complex issues facing child nutrition. Here are just a few we have lined up:

  • Financial Management: A Course for School Foodservice Directors
  • Solving the Food Allergy Puzzle
  • Step Up to the HealthierUS School Challenge

Walk down the ANC “Strip” and you’ll come across the Child Nutrition Showcase, featuring recent research and best practices in child nutrition. There is a roulette of ideas to see as you make your way around the different displays.  

What happens in Vegas comes back with you from Vegas! So don’t just sit there—start looking through the information on and let me know what looks like a sure bet for you.

Peggy Eller
ANC Steering Committee Chair

Things to do in Vegas

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Hi, my name is Debbie Engels, and I am a Technical Support Trainer for Clark County School District here in Las Vegas.  I've lived in Las Vegas for many years, and people are always asking me what there is to do here beside gambling.   There are so many popular things to do, and many of these are available away from the Strip.  Activities extend well beyond sitting in front of a slot machine all night!  However, if you prefer to stay on the Strip, there is more to do than spend hundreds of dollars on shows.  For example, in front of the Bellagio Hotel there are beautiful fountains that dance about every half hour, and are accompanied by music and a light show.  Personally, I enjoy just walking down the strip and through the extravagant malls and observing the eclectic decor.  On the other hand, if you're feeling more adventurous and don't mind spending about $200 per person, check out the all new "Dinner in the Sky" attraction, where you can dine on a "sky car" that is suspended 180 feet above the Strip.  You can enjoy cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, a champagne toast, amazing entrees, and a souvenir red carpet photo -- all while rotating 180 degrees in your sky car. Other popular Strip attractions include the many shows available at each hotel, art galleries and especially the Bodies Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel, for those who feel like learning more about their own body.  Don't forget to go down by the "older" strip and check out the Fremont Street Experience too!
As you can tell, attractions on the Strip are almost infinite.  But in my opinion, I think the best Las Vegas attractions are away from Las Vegas Blvd.  When you look out your window at the dry desert landscape, it's hard to imagine that this entire city was once home to natural springs and an abundant water source.  As a result, the Springs Preserve was built to teach people about Las Vegas' past and get them to start thinking about the future and start their own conservation.  It's about 180 acres and features trails, galleries, a theater, and even an interactive children's exhibit.  On the other side of town you can go to the Big Dig, which I hear is very fun since you can relive your childhood dreams and get dirty by playing all day in a big sandbox!  You can operate a real bulldozer and dig trenches, bulldoze big piles of dirt, and even stack cars on top of each other.  But if you don't feel like getting dirty, you can check out Mount Charleston, the Atomic Testing Museum, take a ride at the Mini Grand Prix, or even take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.  Whatever you decide to do while here at ANC, you definitely won't be bored!
Have you started making plans? Share them here…
Debbie Engels
Local Arrangements Chair
Tech Training Specialist
Clark County SD

Dear Boss: Send Me to ANC Las Vegas!

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Your district, like many others, is likely looking for ways to reduce costs and to ensure that the money it spends to meet students’ needs goes as far as possible. But professional development is important, too, and this year’s ANC in Las Vegas promises to provide bang for the buck.

So, why not ask your supervisor to send you to ANC to ensure that you’ll gain valuable ideas and suggestions to bring back to your district? Tracks in financial management, as well as sessions on other hot topics, such as Farm to School and the 2009 reauthorization, will provide you with cost-effective essential training and knowledge that can also be used back home.

The letter in this blog entry, attached in Word, is a template for a letter you might consider submitting to your supervisor to let him/her know about how important it is that you attend ANC Las Vegas, especially in these difficult economic times as school nutrition professionals work together to provide healthy meal options for all students. Feel free to tailor the information as suggested to your and your district’s own needs.

Related Links

ANC Supervisor letter (Word .doc)

Navigating ANC for the First Time

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Looking over the more than 80 quality education sessions listed on ANC 2009 section of, I am amazed at how much information can be packed into just four days….and yet I am told that more sessions are still being added! In fact, just this week a new session entitled, “Give Me the Money! – Grant Writing 101,” was added to the Professional Skill Building track. As the nation’s economy struggles to recover, securing grants for our programs is more important than ever. If you haven’t done so already, I’d suggest you look over sessions now to start mapping out a schedule that addresses your individual needs. There's no way I’ll be able to get to all the sessions on my tentative agenda, which is why I’m relieved that so many of my team members from Onalaska School District in Wisconsin will be joining me in Las Vegas. With our combined effort I’m sure we can get to nearly ever session!

Speaking of the Onalaska team, the kitchen supervisors from the district will be first timers to the ANC experience. They are excited to experience a professional conference and already have started planning for the sessions they would like to attend. They want to meet with me to help them put together a plan so they can experience all there is to offer. I still remember my first ANC and so I’m excited to share this experience with them.

Attending the ANC for the first time can be a bit overwhelming, so be prepared to pace yourself. Use the event website to set priorities ahead of time. To maximize your attendance, my best advice is to ask questions, share ideas, network with other attendees, learn as much as possible and, most importantly—have a good time!

Is this your first time attending ANC? What are you most looking forward to? And for all of you conference veterans, what advice can you offer for first-time attendees?

Katie Wilson
SNA President


Why ANC 2009 is in Las Vegas

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In recent months, SNA has received a few inquires from members asking why the Association is holding its 2009 Annual National Conference (ANC) in Las Vegas, given its glitzy and glamorous reputation, one that is at odds with the troubling realities of today’s economy. I would like to take this opportunity to address these concerns.

A couple of years ago, few would have questioned attending a conference in Las Vegas, as the city has taken pains to showcase itself as much more than a haven for gambling enthusiasts. It now has a reputation as both a family vacation destination, as well as a legitimate place to do business. The city has grown to become one of the largest and most affordable cities to host conventions, with more than 9.8 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space citywide and 140,500 hotel rooms. Unfortunately, the slowdown in the economy has understandably caused some of you to give pause about SNA’s choice of this location.

If you had a chance to read your February issue of School Nutrition magazine, I’m sure you were amazed to discover just how much time and coordination goes into planning ANC. In fact, SNA typically selects the location seven to nine years out. So, you may be surprised to hear that the original location for ANC 2009 was actually Salt Lake City!

Although SNA had signed contracts to hold its conference in Utah’s state capital, three years ago, in 2006, the Salt Lake Convention & Visitor’s Bureau broke that contract in order to host a larger national association the same week. The city did not have sufficient hotel and meeting space to support both organizations simultaneously, and after contact from SNA’s legal counsel, it agreed to a financial settlement to pay for the expenses SNA would incur in trying to find a new host site with much less lead time.

This situation left SNA’s management team scrambling to identify and contract conference space in another city in the West, a requirement dictated by the Association’s bylaws regarding conference rotation across the United States. This was not an easy task given such constraints. ANC is simply too large to be hosted in many small and mid-sized cities.

Fortunately, SNA was able to secure exhibit, meeting and hotel space—all under one roof—at the Mandalay Bay Resort. While the mid-July dates when ANC is normally held were not available, the earlier June 29-July 2 dates were deemed a reasonable alternative by SNA leadership representing both operators and industry.  

That brings us to where we are today. I am really looking forward to ANC in Las Vegas. Given its own economic struggles, the city is opening its arms to welcome us. The Mandalay Bay has dropped its rates to make it more affordable for ANC participants to attend. I’m seeing news reports almost every day about airfares going down, too. This could turn out to be one of the most affordable ANCs of recent years!

Keep reading this blog—in the days to come, we’ll be posting more information about ANC education sessions, general session speakers, the Final Event and much more about why you can’t miss THIS ANC.

Have you been to Vegas? What are some of your favorite aspects of the city? Share them in the comment section below.

Katie Wilson
SNA President

New to Blogging? Learn How to Comment

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So, let's say you read something here on the Viva Las Vegas, Viva ANC! Blog that you’d like to comment on. How would you go about doing that?

Begin by reading what's already been said—a good comment will build on what the post author has written, as well as previous comments. These “virtual conversations” are a great opportunity to share with and learn from a much wider network than you typically have access to in person.

Log in to the website—after reading what others have said, log in to the website to comment. If you are already logged in, look for “Comment” field at the end of each new post. Your first and last name will be displayed along with your comment. Although anyone can view your comments, only SNA members have the ability to participate in the discussion.

Add to the conversation—now it’s your turn to comment. This is where you can share your thoughts and speak your mind. Aim to go beyond comments like, “Nice post,” and instead share your insights, experiences and ideas to the conversation. This will help to stimulate the discussion and may even lead to you building connections and relationships with your school nutrition peers, with whom you can meet up with while at ANC. Please respect the community-building aspect of this blog and confine your comments to appropriate feedback. Inappropriate comments will be removed.
Follow the conversation—be sure to check back on the blog regularly for important ANC updates and tips, and to keep track of what’s happening with the conversation.


The Value of Attending ANC 2009

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Because budgets are tight for everyone and training for school nutrition professionals of all levels is more important that ever right now, SNA has been working with the official ANC hotels to make attendance more affordable for SNA members and exhibitors. I’m pleased to report that new rates are $119 per night for Mandalay Bay, $149 per night for THEhotel, and $59 per night for the Luxor.

ANC is the one event I make sure is on my calendar every year. I find that it benefits not only my career, but also my program and the students we serve each day. Here are just a few reasons why I continue to find value in attending ANC year after year.

- The wide variety of education sessions. This year’s sessions will address everything from charge policies and behavior-changing nutrition education, to food allergies and financial management during tight economic times.
- The exposure to a full array of vendors and products all under one roof. The ANC Exhibit Hall allows me quickly compare products and resolve issues with vendors.
- The opportunity to meet professionals who represent districts from all corners of the country—friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise ever met. At ANC, I often work through operational problems and issues I’m having simply by talking with peers.

For those of you who are regular ANC attendees like me, why do YOU come back year after year? Share your thoughts below!

Katie Wilson
SNA President

Welcome to the Viva Las Vegas, Viva ANC! Blog

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Good news! I’m happy to announce that the Early Bird registration deadline for SNA’s 2009 Annual National Conference (ANC) has been extended to April 30, 2009. It's a good thing, too, because this year’s conference already is gearing up to be one of the best events we’ve ever held. To make this event a success, I’ve been working with an incredibly dedicated ANC Steering Committee that includes Chair Peggy Eller, Co-Chair Jody Houston, Local Arrangements & Hospitality Chairs Deborah Engels and Susan Hoggan, as well as Board Advisor Dora Rivas and Industry Advisor Pat McCoy. 

In the coming weeks, the steering team and I, along with other Association leaders, will be giving you a sneak peek into this summer’s event via this “Viva Las Vegas, Viva ANC! Blog.” Our goal is to share insights and provide you with everything you need to know so that you arrive in Las Vegas ready to learn. Therefore, I encourage you to drop in, add your comments and return frequently to see new posts and make new comments.

I’m so excited share four learning-packed days with you. We certainly did receive lots of your postcards at SNA Headquarters as part of the ANC sweepstakes, so I know I'm not the only one counting down to June 29th.

So whether you’re an ANC veteran or newbie, let’s hear it: Why is ANC a priority for you this year?

Katie Wilson
SNA President

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